Ocean: Songs For The Night Journey

Jennifer Cutting

Sunsign Records, 2004


REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Sometimes, the best part of this job is when I get the CDs I didn't ask for. Take, for example, Ocean: Songs For The Night Journey, the latest work from electro-folk composer Jennifer Cutting. I had no clue what this was when I popped it in the old CD player, and I was speedily blown away. This is a brilliant piece of work by an artist I want desperately to know more about.

Cutting is a former member of new-folk outfit The New St George, which from all appearances appears to be the best folk band that very few people ever heard. (I'll let you know as soon as I can; I intend to track their work down as soon as possible). Since NSG's breakup in 1996, Cutting has drifted away (you should excuse the pun) from the more acoustic sound of folk, experimenting more with fully arranged pieces of music that still draw on her Anglo-Celtic melodic and instrumental roots. The first fruit of this promising vine is my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Ocean - and it's a doozy.

The musicians alone on Ocean are impressive. Along with former band mates Lisa Moscatiello and Rico Petruccelli, Cutting is joined by members of Steeleye Span (including lead singer Maddy Prior), Ossian, Fairport Convention, and other luminaries from the US and British folk music communities. The CD was recorded over seven years in both the US and England, and is the culmination of large-scale research into ethnomusicology; this is no mistake, as Cutting's is an ethnomusicologist at the Library of Congress. (Nice credentials, huh?)

OK, I hear you ask, so much for the credentials, how's the music? In a word, breathtaking. The simple elegance of tracks like "My Grief On The Sea" and "The Gladdest Breeze" is only surpassed by such acts of sheer musical genius (and not a little chutzpah) such as adapting the "Jupiter" movement from Holst's The Planets to the magnificent "Song For The Night Sea Journey". And the journey across the sea of Cutting's brilliance continues to the triumphant close, an adaptation of Bach's "If You Are Near". This is some potent stuff, folks, and not to be missed.

Jennifer Cutting was a stranger to me when I received Ocean. Now, I want more, and I want all of you to take your own voyage into musical magnificence.

You can find out more about Ocean, including how to order it, here.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2004 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sunsign Records, and is used for informational purposes only.