Folk singer Jackie Oates may be steeped in the English tradition, but some of her songs reflect her own personal experiences.
No more so than with the release of her seventh studio album, The Joy of Living, which follows a deeply personal chapter of the Cheshire-born singer’s life.
It was a time when she gave birth to her daughter, Rosie, five days before her father, who inspired Jackie’s love of music, died unexpectedly from sepsis.
All three were fighting the condition at one time.
“I fluctuated between numbness and intense emotion at the joy and the sadness that had struck me all at once,” she reveals to the public in the sleeve notes to The Joy of Living.
The album was, quite delightfully, recorded in Jackie’s kitchen while a young Rosie played at her feet, which explains an outbreak of gurgling in the background.
Jackie has stamped her calm and haunting authority on a handful of traditional songs in this album, whilst deferring to writers of the calibre of Ewan McColl, Lal Waterson and Davey Steele on others.
One of the highlights, in my opinion, is her plaintive reworking of John Lennon’s Mother, which gives way to the optimism of one of her own songs, Spring Is Coming Soon.
The album ends triumphantly with John Tams’ Rolling Home which includes the voice of her late-dad, snuck from a late night singaround in Scotland, and seamlessly edited in.
Along with the album comes the much-anticipated tour, including a date at the Greystones in Sheffield on Wednesday November 21 when Jackie’s full band will be with her.
It’s another significant step in the career of the singer and fiddle player who grew up in Staffordshire and has been credited with helping to reinvigorate English folk music with her skilful and poignant performances of a variety of songs and ballads. She was brought up in folk festivals as a child and pub singarounds as a student. At the age of 18, Jackie decided against studying music, and moved to Devon – which she has since said is one of her favourite places in the UK – to study English literature at Exeter University. She was based in Devon until 2011, learning to sing by ear and collecting ballads from the area, before deciding to make the move to Oxford.
Since being a finalist in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards in 2003, she has been nominated for 12 BBC Folk awards, winning Best Newcomer and Best Traditional Track in 2009, for her recording of The Lark in the Morning.
There have been collaborations with the Unthanks, the Imagined Village and Alasdair Roberts and Belinda O’Hooley alongside her solo albums.
As if to underline her family’s deep roots in folk music, Jackie’s brother, Jim Moray, the singer, multi-instrumentalist and producer, appears at the Greystones on Thursday November 15. just six days before her own appearance.
*Celtic Fiddle Festival, featuring Kevin Burke (Ireland), Christian Lemaître (Brittany) and Capercaillie’s Charlie McKerron (Scotland) are at the Greystones on Tuesday November 20.
Jackie and her band will be at the Greystones on November 21. Visit mygreystones.co.uk