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Jim Moray stands against a red background. His face is blurred as he shakes his head. This is the cover art for his new album, Beflean.

Jim Moray announces ‘Beflean: An Alternative History, 2002-2023’

Celebrating 21 years as a professional musician, Jim Moray returns with 'Beflean', recorded at Abbey Road and featuring an all-star lineup.

To many, it must seem like a mere slip of time since Jim Moray, folk wunderkind, arrived fresh-faced from his bedroom studio at the dawn of the century. A shock, then, to find that two decades have slipped away and the artist has announced a kind of ‘Best Of’ collection to mark his 21st anniversary as a professional musician.

Beflean: An Alternative History, 2002-2023 digs into his celebrated past and retrieves a clutch of songs that Moray either loves or feels the urge to revisit, having spent countless gigs and years perfecting them on stage following their original release. And to put the finishing, gleaming touch to the project, he has done so in the hallowed halls of Abbey Road, famously home to recordings made by Radiohead, Kate Bush, and the artists formerly known as Johnny and The Moondogs.

Add to that a host of well-known guest musicians (Jon Boden, Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne, Cormac Byrne, Tom Moore, Archie Churchill-Moss) and a tracklist that glistens with Moray classics (‘Lord Douglas‘, ‘Sounds of Earth’, ‘Fair Margaret And Sweet William’, to name but a few) and it looks like a bit of a treat. It’s out on November 24th, making it a potential stocking-filler for the tradfolker in your life, but it’s available for pre-order today (Bandcamp Friday, as it happens), so ordering it immediately will certainly help the artist cover his costs. Abbey Road can’t come cheap, after all.

The pre-release tracks currently available to listen to on Bandcamp speak of the artist’s usual polished sound, but with a drive and urgency that the constraints of time spent in the world’s most famous recording studio surely bring. The album title, Beflean /be- + flēan/, is an old English word meaning “to strip off skin or bark”, and stripping back certainly seems to be the order of the day here. A load-lightened version of ‘Tyne of Harrow’ [Roud 1553] fair skips along, buoyed by Moore, Churchill-Moss and Byrne, with the kind of melody that you’ll not be shifting from your noggin any time soon. ‘Hind Etin’ [Roud 33] is a more brooding beast, benefitting here from a drums-free approach that allows Boden and Braithwaite-Kilcoyne room for some delightful interplay. And for the eagle-eyed Tradfolk reader, the tracklist throws up a new version of ‘Lord Douglas’ [Roud 23], an early mix of which was debuted on Old Songs Podcast Se2Ep9 back in June.

There’s a sense here that Beflean may be a case of Jim Moray drawing a line under the first part of his career; doing a bit of tidying up before he digs into the coming decades. Whatever they may hold, they’re bound to be worth keeping an eye on. A fascinating artist, the fruits of whose labour is only now starting to seep through in his influence on younger artists (he has just co-produced the new Frankie Archer EP), Moray’s work is undoubtedly due a reappraisal, and this may be the album to spark the resurgence.

Beflean by Jim Moray is out on November 24th, with pre-orders available from the artist’s Bandcamp page now.