You really don’t have too many bands that are below a certain age that play jazz. The band The Precious Penny Pluckers comprised of Nicola Cockburn (vocals), Corry Fleming (guitar) and Martin Rowbottom (guitar) from Scotland are a refreshing breath of talent and an exception to the rule with their EP Yonder approaches the great machine. The trio doesn’t just play jazz but a specific kind. This is Django Reinhardt inspired guitar playing that infuses traces of blues, gypsy music and more that is delightful to the ears. You hear songs that don’t sound too far off from something that Tom Waits would sing to songs that you hope to hear from a talented street musician.
Back before people were dancing to rock music or EDM they were moving their hips to something that sounded similar to “Not a Dollar.” The guitars are clean acoustics and one person plays lead while the other takes care of the rhythm. Nothing too complicated but they hit just the right notes and give the song a good amount of swing.
The band switches it up with a slow, style back and forth waltz on “The piers.” Cockburn has a deep, soulful voice and sounds well beyond her years in a good way. The get back into a swinging saloon style jazz tune “The ballad of old sir Henry.” She sings about power and money while telling a tale about Henry. “The cold is a comin'” features some background vocal harmonies from the other members while the closer “The Hangman's Priest” is the only song that uses a modulation type effect on the guitar.
I think the next logical step for the band would be to up the recording quality. Yonder approaches the great machine certainly does not sound bad but does have a DIY consumer gear aesthetic. I would have loved to hear the nuances and subtleties of the vocals and guitar, which could be achieved.
Overall, this is solid start for the band. I wouldn’t mind hearing bass and drums at some point but keeping it simple with two guitars isn’t a bad way to go either.
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