“Contemporary rural music from Shropshire” is Jonathan Day’s synopsis of this new release after many years away. Characterised as reclusive and recondite, sometime busking itinerant and vagabond, he is clearly an interesting character with a profound love of nature and its ethereal, numinous and magical qualities. With the CD attractively graced with his own wildlife paintings, an opening “Canticle” about nature, and pieces like The Heron, The Stickleback and The Shrew, Juniper May, and Yellow Eyed Crow, I imagine him (steeped in the poetry of Ted Hughes, Frances Horovitz and John Burnside) wandering the landscape for spiritual inspiration.
Allegedly many years “in the writing and making” and the outcome of the credited perseverance of Joe Broughton, it was certainly worth the effort. Combining echoes of the Nick Drake period with a very contemporary acoustic sensibility, the album is a delight. Day’s filigree guitar work (supplemented by the playing of Kevin Dempsey and Joe Broughton) is exquisite and beautifully plaited with the vocal delivery of his intense and poetic lyrics. Rich with atmosphere, through skilful production and arrangements, the music at times sparkles and shimmers, then, at others, offers dappling half light and hints of darkness.
The sensitivity of the accompanying musicianship – which also includes Paloma Trigas and Helen Lancaster (violins), Emma Capp (cello) and Chris While (vocals) – is exemplary. Day’s voice is always the keystone. Rich and evocative, deep and sonorous, it reminds me of, amongst others, Steve Knightley, Ken Nicol and even David Sylvian. It is certainly a compelling vehicle for the delivery of this collection of his own intimate material supplemented by an arrangement of Bonny Light Horseman. This is a thoroughly assured and mature work from an exceptional singer, songwriter and composer.

– Kevin T. Ward, Living Tradition