Dick’s Picks: This week Dick has chosen this wonderful slice of acoustic folk from little known British singer-songwriter Jaki Whitren, when pushed as to why he’s picked this LP our man Dick had this to say, “because she should be mentioned in the same breath as other recently re-discovered female folkies like Vashti Bunyan, Karen Dalton, Bridget St. John and Linda Perhacs, that’s why”, so now you know!, full details of the album can be found here – meanwhile here’s the potted guide to……
Jaki Whitren – who is she?
Born in 1953 in Hampshire, England, Jaki’s family was steeped in music, from a piano playing Grandfather that provided accompaniment to silent films, to a trained cellist Grandmother, a concert pianist mother whilst her father was said to be no slouch behind the drums either – No surprise then that she too would follow a similar musical path….
After having her mind blown, aged sixteen, listening to Van Morrison’s ‘Astral Weeks’, Jaki felt suitably inspired to have a crack at this song-writing lark herself, this is where it gets good, not for Jaki an embarrassing teenage ditty that might be best left forgotten rather this inspired (and personal) acoustic reverie entitled ‘Give Her The Day’ which eventually would find its way onto Raw But Tender….
Raw But Tender
The album itself is a superb blend of folk and blues with elements of country and rock, all topped off with her incredible voice which can range from emotive bluesy stylings through to genuine heartfelt anguish a la Janis Joplin. Fairport Convention members Pat Donaldson and Gerry Conway provide the rhythm section throughout and the arrangements and various instrumental support provided by Rob Young, Ivan Chandler, Albert Lee and Stuart Cowell ensure this is no cutesy amateur, outsider art type affair. ‘Oh Little Boy’ is adorned with a wonderful baroque woodwind arrangement, ‘New Horizon’ is augmented with some deft Banjo and Dobro fills, ‘But Which Way Should I Go’ even finds room for some jazz styled brass stabs and the understated string arrangement given to ‘Give her The Day’ is a thing of real beauty.
Shortly after the album was released Jaki toured as support to jazz fusionists the Mahavishnu Orchestra, she can also be heard supplying backing vocals to the Alan Parsons Project 1977 LP ‘I Robot’, after this her recorded output was just a handful of sporadic recordings made with her husband and fellow musician John Cartwright, an album ‘Rhythm Hymn’ was released in 1982 which added elements of funk ‘n’ soul into the mix – after that very little…..
In recent years there has been a gradual resurgence of interest in Jaki with reissue label Sunbeam putting out a limited vinyl issue of Raw But Tender whilst left-field dance label ‘Emotional Rescue’ reissued the stand-alone 1982 single ‘International Times’ with a slew of re-edits/remixes from underground dance taste-maker Al Usher – perhaps the deluxe vinyl reissue of ‘Raw But Tender’ is just around the corner after all????
In the meantime enjoy this little beauty from the album….