“The Year, She Turns, Jennifer Crook’s magnificent musical almanac…would be very difficult to say which of these tracks are my favourite. Simply adore them all ” Fatea Magazine January 2017
Inspired by the months and the seasons, Jennifer set herself the challenge of writing, recording, and releasing a song a month throughout 2016. “There was no grand plan. I just decided to trust the creative process, and began. Every month presented a new challenge, and a new reason to be grateful for the way these songs and recordings have unfolded.” This album is the harvest of her musical year.
Jennifer’s fourth solo album is a truly independent release. Recorded in Bath, Box, Edinburgh, Devon, and Dorset, the last song was recorded with a bespoke live band only two days before the album was due to be sent off to the pressing house. The final sequence (including the soundscapes linking the songs) was completed in the nick of time by Stephen W Tayler… the same day his most recent production with Kate Bush, ‘Before the Dawn’, was topping the album charts.
Jennifer’s exemplary harp playing features on five of the twelve tracks, and with many former band mates getting involved; talent abounds. However, the real beauty of this album is in the honesty of the recordings and the emotionally alive performances. No time for endless overdubs or re-workings, most of the songs were recorded and mixed in a day. Each song has a different character yet become like old friends soon enough, woven together by Jennifer’s beautifully natural voice.
“A vocalist of sublime power” John O’Regan
The special guests include such prominent artists on the British folk scene as Eliza Carthy MBE, Miranda Sykes and Beth Porter, as well as Charlie Jones (Robert Plant, Goldfrapp), Andrew Cresswell Davis (Korgis, Stackridge), Jennifer’s touring partner Mike Cosgrave and singer songwriter Peter James Millson – who photographed the beautiful cover and track art for each monthly release.
“This album tells so many different stories for me, not only within the songs themselves, but also in the musical history I have shared with many of the artists who contributed to it. Without the right musicians appearing at just the right time, or a word of encouragement when I needed it most, this album may not have come into being. For me it represents a triumph of collaboration and enthusiasm over difficult circumstances and limited resources. Creativity finding a way.”
Five months into the project, Jennifer realised she was going to have to learn to record herself, which is exactly what she did. “That was a steep learning curve! Some months I was really pushing the deadline, yet somehow I managed to catch up so that I was able to send CD’s out to my fans and Bandcamp supporters in time for Christmas. I still marvel at the way it all came together in the end. Really, it was a bit of a miracle, and I am so thankful to everyone who supported me and helped make it happen.”
Jennifer first had the idea to write a song for every month after recording ‘Come September’ for her second solo album Merry-Go-Round which was produced by Boo Hewerdine and featured guest performers like Eddi Reader and Darrell Scott. Bob Harris loved it, and invited Jennifer to perform on his Sunday show on BBC Radio 2.
“I’m really, really loving the new album Merry-Go-Round. It’s beautiful” Bob Harris BBC Radio 2.
Jennifer’s next record centred round her live trio with top cellist Beth Porter and multi-instrumentalist Mike Cosgrave. Following a ‘hugely successful’ (Pledge Music) crowdfunding campaign, ‘Carnforth Station’ was produced at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios by Stephen W Tayler, and was included in The Telegraph’s best folk albums of 2014.
“Jennifer is a rare talent, creating wonderful atmospheric, poetic songs with gorgeous accompaniment – superb instrumentalists and instruments – especially her own harp and of course featuring her beautiful voice. These songs are like short stories, photographs, movies… truly captivating and magical.” Stephen W Tayler (Kate Bush, Suzanne Vega, Stevie Nicks)
Folk Radio UK described Jennifer as “a writer with her own unique set of gifts that melodically and lyrically place her a cut above many of her contemporaries… she has a core strength that brings Blue to mind”, which perhaps goes some way to explain why Jennifer was recently asked to take part in a BBC2 programme paying tribute to Joni Mitchell.
In a career that has led her through the BBC Young Tradition Award, to performing the music for David Attenborough’s ‘The Private Life of Plants’, to touring with Snow Patrol on electric harp, and a myriad of other bands, her first love has always been songwriting. Jennifer has established herself as ‘a class act’ R2, and whilst she brings her arranging skills and many of her musical influences together on this new album, her intention always lies in the hope that her songs will simply connect. As she writes on the sleeve notes, “This is for all our personal journeys around the sun.”
Eliza Carthy – fiddle (May Madness)
Miranda Sykes – double bass & backing vocals (October Road)
Beth Porter – cello (February)
Andrew Cresswell Davis – backing vocals (The March Hare)
Charlie Jones – bass (The March Hare)
Mike Cosgrave – guitars & accordion (May Madness & October Road)
Peter James Millson – guitar & backing vocals (November)
Mark Smulian – fretless bass (January’s Here)
Neville Farmer – backing vocals (January’s Here)
Henry Sears – fiddle & backing vocals (August Moon)
Sue Harding -backing vocals (The Last Day in July)
Jools Scott – piano (Slow Down December)
Emma Hooper -viola (Slow Down December)
Sue Lord -violin (Slow Down December)
Duncan Kingston – double bass (Slow Down December)
Eddie John – drums (Slow Down December)
Recorded by Leon Hunt, Ben Please, Marco Migliani, (Real World Studios, Box) Seb Pecchia (Riverside Studios, nr Bath), Mike Cosgrave, Jennifer Crook, Peter James Million. Eliza Carthy was recorded by Stuart Hamilton at Castlesound.