Performing Arts | The Reconnoisseur

A singer who pushes the boundaries of folk music

To Jim Moray, music has no limits

A singer who pushes the boundaries of folk music

Image: Alan Cole

June 20 2010
David Cheal

The revival of folk is one of popular music’s most fascinating stories in recent years, and no one epitomises its return to favour (and even fashionability) more than Jim Moray. This gifted singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and re-interpreter of folk standards has pushed the boundaries of the genre far beyond what many people would consider to be “folk”: when I saw him on stage in London a couple of years ago, he and his band played traditional tunes such as Early One Morning and Raggle Taggle Gypsies, sung by Moray in a voice of sweet and bell-like clarity, but there were also electrified indie-rock songs and even a rapper.

It was all of a piece with Moray’s wide-ranging approach, and his new album, In Modern History, is a typically broad-minded collection of acoustic and electric songs. He’s young, funny and personable, and on stage he chats affably about the stories behind his songs, so I’m planning to catch him live again, either during his forthcoming summer festival dates or on his tour in September. It’s more than 40 years since Bob Dylan was called “Judas” by one of his fans for playing an electric guitar at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall, and there are still those who struggle with the notion that folk can be electric, too. But to Jim Moray, music has no boundaries, and it’s this that makes him such a captivating performer.

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