Shakespeare's Fool "Songs From The Plays"
USA-based Brit Jason Feddy gained the inspiration for his latest project from his support act at a Californian house gig last year. Said un-named act was reciting verses from William Shakespeare’s plays to an unexpectedly spellbound room of half-cut socialites. This experience led to Feddy dusting down his copy of “The Complete Works..” and searching out lyrical passages and songs that he could write new music for.
The majority of the record sees Feddy’s gravely croon upfront with only his acoustic guitar for company, though the better moments also feature subtle upright bass and some temperate percussion more prominently.
While the whole bard-bothering idea may on paper call to mind a stark and dusty, stately folk setting, Feddy has in fact re-written these songs with the aim of making the bard Rock! So some of these well known pieces now transform into modern (mostly blues-edged) rootsy acoustic rock songs. ‘The Gravedigger’ swings with a melancholy pop edge, while ‘Fear No More the Heart of the Sun’ (Cymberline) has traces of Neil Young to it with its themes of time and brevity.
The album’s highpoint, the jazzy ‘Sigh No More, Ladies’ (from ‘Much ado about Nothing’) turns into a late night conciliatory shoulder to cry on, featuring Feddy’s best smoky melodies. Towards the end the hushed ‘Blessings on You’ and the James Taylor-esque ‘Sylvia’ sound somehow fresh and as if they were written yesterday, which I guess is more of a compliment to the original work than anything Feddy has done to them.
Feddy has set Shakespeare against a simple modern melodic backing that, despite the odd 'hey-nonny-no', makes the source material sound anything but archaic. Whose victory that really is though is for the listener to decide.