Jed Marum, a Boston lad who now calls Texas home, is a storyteller in true fashion of the Seanchaí of old. He traces his heritage and roots back to Kilkenny and Galway. I can easily see him amongst the Bards of old entertaining Kings and commoners alike.
Jed has been performing on the Folk and Celtic music circuit for the past thirteen years. He can be heard regularly on Folk/Bluegrass and Celtic radio programs around the world. He has a keen sense of history and the images that he evokes in his music recall a style that is both Celtic and Americana, yet still uniquely his own. Wherever I am on a Festival ground, I know his set has started from the first note that drifts across the grounds on a breeze.
In "The South Wind," he has woven history and melody together to bring to light a truthful depiction of the War between the States as witnessed and experienced by those silent voices he awakens in each of the sixteen tracks. At turns, it is both poignantly sweet and bitterly cutting. In listening to it, I am carried back to ceilis in kitchens and parlours across Ireland, onto Ships bound for America and deeper into the Southland and Midwest of Missouri, Virginia and into Arkansas. Just as those who came before us, from the Connemara hills and the seaports of Cork, brought their songs of home to a new land and reshaped them to mirror their new experience, so too does Jed.
With "The South Wind," though not necessarily a Celtic CD, Jed Marum brings to this musical history a sense of the Celtic roots that resonate through each song.
"The Rockbridge Artillery" will sound familiar to those Trad folks who enjoy Sean McBride's "Homes of Donegal." "Even as I Ramble" brings a lilt and a sense of a walk through the life of a traveler, no matter where they might venture. The title track "The South Wind," carries me to the wilds of the Beara, where I could see an Old man singing this in front of a banked peat fire of a chilled winter night.
Such are the strong images that each song on this album provoke. Each one, standing on its own merit, will transport the listener along on a journey, sorrowful, sweet, haunting, mesmerizing and will stay with you long after you turn off the CD player. I found myself whistling a tune late last night, only to realize after that it was "Calla's Waltz," an instrumental track that had me envisioning the last waltz in a kitchen or in the front yard of a home that a man may never see again.
"Black Flag/Lone Chimney" is haunting in its simplicity and the stark picture it paints of absolute desecration. "Shines Like Gold" is perhaps my favorite as it sings of a brighter promise, of peace and acceptance. I love the fine banjo work on "Olivia Rose/The Vicar's Daughter." There is just something about a banjo that makes me smile and sets my toes to tapping. Along with the contemporary songs on the album, Jed offers up his take on some favored traditional songs. "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" will take you to church and its reprise will cause your soul to take wing. "Amazing Grace," always a memory and heartstrings puller for me, is haunting here both as a vocal number and again when it is reprised on the Highland pipes on the final track. "Minstrel Boy" always does me in, but especially so on this CD.
I would highly recommend this CD to anyone who is an aficionado of quality storytelling, whether Celtic or Americana. I know it will travel with me where ever I may wander. BD