Jason McNiff
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Jason McNiff

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"Tomorrow Never Knows Cover Mount CD"

Jason McNiff is one of the Uk's best-kept secrets.Those familiar with his three albums tend to dub him Americana (or make endless references to Dyaln) but there's something very British about him. For Revolver Reloaded the London based singer/songwriter deconsrtucts Lennon's masterpiece in a manner that, as you can hear as he talks across the end of the recording, is languidly home made.
- MOJO magazine


"Moody but not quite dark"

Moody but not quite dark, Jason McNiff's brand of folky singer/songwriting is something of a throwback to an earlier age in many respects. If you're so inclined, you can hear echoes of several major such talents of the 1960s and early '70s, perhaps most particularly Paul Simon and early Al Stewart, especially in the somewhat breathy vocals. There's some Bob Dylan, too, but McNiff's vocal delivery is simply considerably sweeter than Dylan's, and rather friendlier in tone to boot; some of the songs sound like a less bitter variation on the most acoustic-oriented facets of Dylan's Blood on the Tracks sound. Just because reviewers can easily find vintage names to drop, fortunately, doesn't mean that this compilation -- drawing from the three albums McNiff had previously issued, plus four new recordings that appear for the first time here -- isn't respectable work on its own merits. The songs are consistently thoughtful without spilling into oversensitivity, reasonably tuneful, occasionally haunting, and always tastefully arranged. The acoustic guitar folk-rock base is embellished by enough electronics, organ, and other textures to keep things interesting, the bashing cover of the Italian folk tune "Bella Ciao" being the biggest surprise. - Billboard


"Uk's most under-rated"

UK’s most under-rated americana artist returns with all the hallmarks of a breakthrough album

Jason McNiff’s last album “Nobody’s Son” was Americana UK’s album of the year for 2003, and a more naturally English but successfully authentic take on americana you’d still be hard pushed to find. Three years later and McNiff is back with a collection that immediately dispels the “difficult third album” syndrome that occasionally artists almost mythically fall prey to, managing to sound like an evolution of the sound he’s already set such high standards for without being an actual, to use the cliché, revolution. The album kicks off in subdued form with the title track and some of the most personal lyrics McNiff has yet written, examining the way people’s titles become far too much of an identity marker for who they are disguising all other facets – there’s a sociological essay in there somewhere. And indeed if he doesn’t want to be pigeonholed accordingly (the Dylan comparisons will still come thick and fast mind you), the album provides many twists and turns – despite the English folk arrangements, the songs were written in Southern Spain and Italy (the clue is in the titles) and the sometimes unfathomable lyricism belies the fact that his stories can be listened to again and again, never quite clicking but you always feel like you’re getting somewhere.

The themes are constant – travel and pilgrimage – indeed oil raises its head more than once transforming a substance these days deemed so overtly political into something with an altogether more down to earth function. While the arrangements themselves are perhaps more lowkey than the songs on both albums preceding, “Delia” and “In Our Time” in particular, the melodies are still sweeter than dripping honey and there are some absolute standout tracks that at least rival the elegiac “I Remember You” – “Broken Down” and “Hills of Rome” are both instant classics which highlight both McNiff’s wonderfully evocative voice and sterling guitar work. And despite the more laid back feel of most of the record, there’s also one big chorus track in the form of “Berries” which wouldn’t sound out of place on any of Steve Earle’s nineties output. McNiff is perhaps the most underrated performer on the UK americana scene today but it’ll be a freakish alignment of missed opportunities if this doesn’t break him through into a name more recognised throughout the country. At just eight tracks long, McNiff has recorded a succinct, beautifully arranged and involving album that demands listen after listen but never feels like it reaches so much as its half life. You’ll be spending time with it for that long. - Americana UK


"British folk scene"

The 11 tracks on Jason McNiff’s Nobody’s Son are subtly beautiful. Flanked by members of Grand Drive and the Hank Dogs, McNiff abandons the electric-guitar solo and cymbal crash for a more understated approach featuring a variety of acoustic arrangements and mysterious subject matter.

In a hushed, gravelly voice that assumes a thinner, nasal tone when confronted with an ascending melody, McNiff surrounds much of the album with the dark lyrical themes commonly associated with the British folk scene he came from. Songs like “Weeping Willows Weep” and “Half Drunk” (with the line, “I’m half drunk, you’re half sober / We’ve got nothing to talk about”) sound like they’re borrowed from a distant time and place.

“I Remember You” is the record’s undeniable darling. Here, McNiff picks up where Mermaid Avenue left off, offering seven minutes of finger-picking nostalgia in an undeclared tribute to
Woody Guthrie

. For McNiff, “I Remember You,” like every song on “Nobody’s Son,” is a show of faith in his music and his audience. While many are compelled to alter their songs in some way to gain wider acceptance, McNiff trusts that his songs are what they’re supposed to be and that his listeners will appreciate them, whether they understand them or not. Historically, confidence like this has done a lot for music, and it does a lot for Jason McNiff on Nobody’s Son. - Paste Magazine


"In My Time"


Jason McNiff has been described as one of the Uk's best-kept secrets-and I'm going to try and expose that secret. I was sent this CD a few weeks ago by his PR; I've played this several times and am absolutely loving it.

In My Time is a mixture of compilation of old stuff and new songs, and originally intended for release overseas but now released in the UK as well. Over the course of twelve songs and fifty minutes, he utterly wins you over with his songs, voice and guitar playing.

Born of Polish/Irish descent, he has released 3 albums on London-based independent labels. He follows in a line of troubadours from the British folk blues of people like Bert Jansch, Richard Thompson and Nick Drake to the great American singer songwriters like Bob Dylan, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and Leonard Cohen. Listening to this compilation is to be utterly won over by his work.

McNiff has spent time travelling in Italy, which has hugely influenced songs on this album like 'Pilgrim Soul' 'Hills Of Rome' and a cover of the Italian folk song 'Bella Ciao.' This anti-fascist folk song was an anthem during the second world War, though he notes in his sleevenotes to the album that it has earlier origins as a work song of the rice pickers of northern Italy. Consider it a cousin of Leonard Cohen recording of 'The Partisan.' I learned 'Bella Ciao' from teaching English to Italian students; he learned it from touring with the Modena City Ramblers. As for the gorgeous 'Woody's Annie Hall' and 'Pilgrim Soul' these songs should be considered classics.

Listening to this album also encouraged me to look through the vinyl, and pick ut Michelle Shocked's classic debut The Texas Campfire Tapes. In his sleevenotes to that album in 1986, Pete Lawrence -the man who held the tape recorder- speaks of meeting a young woman who's spending a lot of time travelling, who has' a gift with words and a turn of phrase unmatched since early Dylan.' In 2008, I feel this applied just as equally to Jason McNiff.

It is time for Jason McNiff to be picked up by the British public and for the critical acclaim to translate into sales and recognition.

***** - Songs Illinois


Discography

Off the Rails ( 2000 )
Nobody's Son ( 2003 )
Another Man ( 2006 )
Hills Of Rome/Tomorrow Never Knows (Single 2006)
In My Time ( 2008 )

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Bio

The son of a Polish mother and an Irish father who was fostered in England whilst keeping his birth name, Jason McNiff was born in West Yorkshire in 1974. Raised in Haworth on the edge of the moors – where they know a bit about turning grit into pearls – in his late teens he bought a guitar and turned rambler, making his way east through Europe into Turkey before finding himself in first Egypt, where he married, and then Israel.
Various jobs and one wife later, Jason and guitar found themselves alone in London, supporting Bert Jansch and releasing 2 albums of supremely melodic, crafted, literate songs and virtuoso acoustic guitar picking. 2000’s ‘Off The Rails’ laid down a confident marker, whilst 2003’s ‘Nobody’s Son’ added critical acclaim (Mojo 4 stars) to an already burgeoning word of mouth appreciation amongst folk fans on the ground and fellow musicians alike. (Coming back from the factory with his first fresh box of Off the Rails records, he ran into Pete Doherty who promptly bought a copy)
Wanderlust surfaced again in the Spring of 2004 when McNiff took off to Cadiz in southern Spain, writing songs for this, album number three, before heading to Rome for further inspiration and a job guiding tours around the Vatican.
‘Another Man’, the ensuing album, was laid down in three live sessions on Jason’s return to Blighty in 2005 - eight related songs; a searching for romance amongst the distractions and demands of the modern age; a kind of modern day pilgrimage.
It is one Jason McNiff has been on all of his adult life, and ‘Another Man’ is his best expression of it yet. With it’s enchanted forays into the English mystic, by way of some deft and beautiful ensemble playing, a sensibility shared with Band era Dylan and Neil Young at Harvest time, ‘Another Man’ saw Jason McNiff recognised at the forefront of a short list of committed, literate English singer songwriters.