JJ EP

‘Somewhere Between Lost and Found’ is The Jigsaw Jam‘s first EP with a new, expanded line-up of six members. Despite their multiplying ranks their first EP as a sextet is something of a disappointment.

Never short on dew-eyed innocence and sentimentality, built on a solid foundation of technical competence, it is remarkably reluctant to spark into life, and wouldn’t be seen dead with even the tiniest bit of an edge.

Jasmine’s Jig, is the highlight of the record. The composition as a whole is quite impressive, even if it never falls prey to accusations of virtuosity. It recalls Kila in some of their more conventional moments, and while it never blows you away, it has a certain power thanks to its use of fiddle and guitar.

Other tracks do less to endear themselves. On Ag Caint and We Have Done, the group aim for the slow, tender love song aesthetic, but never manage either the sincerity or the passion of the finer examples of the form.

Ag Caint in particular jars. Lyrics such as “No one about/No one around” sound plenty lovely and nice before an impromptu switch into Irish leads the whole thing in the direction of outright kitsch. These tracks manage the dual feat of being slightly catchy and totally unmemorable at the same time. Man in the Moon, a cover of a song by Céide, does indeed raise the bar before the EP’s close, with repetitive yet enticing vocals and a surer sense of where it’s going. But it isn’t enough to save it.

In a technical sense, there’s little wrong with the EP. Production and recording are all up to scratch, and the skills of the band’s playing are never in question.  It’s all very nice and polished and as edgy as Eoin McLove, but it becomes fairly hard to rouse yourself to care for what they are doing. Brenda Weir and Shane Davis are fine singers, but their lyrics and tunes seem to belong in a schmaltzy nursery rhyme or the end credits to a mid-budget children’s film.

The band occasionally refer to themselves as being engaged in the business of ‘folk n’ roll’. While it should seem obvious that the rock community would feel little affinity with the stylings of this group, you wouldn’t think the contemporary folk scene consider them to be brilliant bearers of that musical torch either.

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