May whatever Gods there be bless Jason McNiff andhis unpretentious, feelgood acoustic folksyloveliness. Sometimes all you want from music is forit to waft over you like a warm summer breeze,demanding nothing and challenging you only about asmuch as a small kitten might.
Jason McNiff is just such a performer, serving upperfect relaxation music for a Friday night wind-downas you put the office, the bills, the nine-to-five andthe whole bloody world behind you for an evening. Opena box of chocolates, grab a glass of milk and lie backon the sofa to drink it in while you try to stayawake.
Somewhere between a greatest hits collection and asampler album, In My Time contains four new songs -the self-penned Lost My Way and Pilgrim Soul plus hisfirst recordings of traditional offerings Hard Timesand Bella Ciao – along with eight others taken fromhis previous three albums, Off The Rails, Nobody’s Sonand Another Man.
The son of a Polish mother and an Irish father,from Bradford via Nottingham and Middlesex whilehanging around with a sort-of Sex Pistol(occasional bass stand-in Andy Allen, later of SteveCook and Paul Jones’s post-Pistols band TheProfessionals) and the nascent Libertines,his talent lies somewhere between Pete Dohertyat his most tender and Nick Drake at his mostoptimistic, curiously soaked in Americana whileremaining resolutely British.
Hardly surprising then that the kind of venue inwhich you’ll find McNiff is London’s tiny 12 Bar Club,a (not too) hidden treasure that plays host to thelikes of Jackie Leven and Sally Timms.Accompanied by fiddles, an organ and lap steelguitars, McNiff breezes his way through his ownmaterial old and new and yet still finds a way to makethe trad arr intruders welcome. Hard Times is so pareddown and fragile it sounds as if it might break at anymoment while in his hands Bella Ciao sounds more likea love song than an anti-fascist protest from the lastcentury.
All of this makes McNiff the type ofsinger-songwriter you could listen to all day, so farfrom the sensibilities of punk that you wonder whatanyone who ever went within a continent of the genremight want with him, but the delicacy of theproduction teases out his talent rather than submergesit, honing the edges to the sharpness of razor blades.
Music as beautiful as this is there to be savoured,turned down low in a darkened room where it can belisted to with no distractions. Breathe in and enjoy.