Jim Ghedi may be known for his guitar chops, but he’s no stranger to a bit of unaccompanied singing. His interpretation of ‘Ah Cud Hew’ on 2021’s In the Furrows of Common Place was as rough and raw as the coal faces the song laments – no bad thing at all, as he marked out a patch for himself as an idiosyncratic singer of skill and passion. On his latest single, I Am a Youth That’s Inclined to Ramble, he brings the naked voice to the fore again, albeit taking a backseat to the notable talents of his upcoming tour partner, Amelia Baker (Cinder Well).
The title track, largely unaccompanied, is an interpretation of Roud 6897, a traditional song that was collected a mere handful of times, mainly in Londonderry, Antrim, and Derry. Baker learnt it from the singing of Rosie Stewart (Fermanagh) and is one of very few modern singers to record it – surprising, given its haunting melody.
The duo sing ‘I Am a Youth That’s Inclined to Ramble’ in close, intertwining harmonies, their voices naturally suited to one another, lending the song a conversational quality as the two parting lovers long for union once again. However, sparse instrumentation arrives mid-song – a drone, a smattering of a fiddle – introducing a sense of foreboding; an unspoken suggestion that all may not be well in the end.
The stronger of the two songs, arguably, is the ‘b-side’, a powerful recording of the Gaelic traditional song ‘Pulling Bracken’ (Tha Mi Sgith). Again, the duo demonstrates that they have voices that we need to hear singing together more often, coaxing textures from one another that keen and yearn and mold themselves around that earworm of a melody. However, they also show that they work together well as musicians. The song’s accompaniment features a strident Ghedi guitar part, over which Baker’s fiddle etches the song’s striking, barren theme, eventually giving way to ‘Highlander’s Farewell’, an apparently Scottish tune that Baker learnt from a recording of Emmet Lundy, recorded by Alan Lomax in Grayson County, Virginia.
The two songs are fine examples of what Jim Ghedi and Cinder Well might manage in the future. If anything, it’s a tantalisingly, frustratingly short release. Hopefully, their upcoming tour will result in something a little meatier that we can look forward to getting our teeth into.
‘I Am A Youth That’s Inclined to Ramble’ is out now, available from both the Cinder Well and Jim Ghedi Bandcamp pages. Cinder Well supports Jim Ghedi on tour, kicking off mid-march. Tickets are available here.