"Kalahari Rain" is an aggressive, violin-fuelled succinct production masterpiece. This is the kind of
song that separates the men from the boys.
True Americana ambrosia
Turner sings with folk-rock/rootsy brilliance .... a vocalist with radiant soul
.... superb material
Hey Brother is a “powerful slice of folk rock … stands pretty tall … anthemic”
Real Change: "If this is the sound of protest music in 2022 then that is good news"
"Cycle of Life is "a stirring folk rock ballad ... an evocative hymn to the wonder and struggle of life from birth to death"
Cycle of Life: "piece of powerful folk rock ... Interesting song, thought provoking words, looking forward to hearing more from his album"
FUTURE MEETS THE PAST
"Spirit, Soul & a Handful of Mud"
From ACOUSTIC Magazine:
James's spirited performances on songs like the driving "Come With Me", accompanied by sything cello and fiddle, recall the Levellers; great music to jump about to after a few noggins. Things get a bit serious with "Karma Will Track You Down", a scary hymn to doing the right thing, but with it's energy and clear commitment to his faith, this is an intriguing release, and some seriously great songs."
Reviewer: Julian Piper
READ THE COMPLETE REVIEW HERE:
From PAGAN DAWN Magazine:
James J Turner has been around for some while now, tracing his musical roots back to mid 80s indie band The Electric Morning and even further, but it is in his more recent musical incarnation, as a druidic influenced singer-songwriter, that you feel he’s really giving rein to his considerable talent.
Spirit, Soul and a Handful of Mud is a cracking record that in turn crackles with optimism and exuberance — which is a neat trick to pull off considering that it starts off with a friend of his dying.
Part of the way he manages to do this though is by infusing the whole record with his beliefs (he’s a member of OBOD and gigs fairly regularly at their events), leading you across some rather more nuanced spiritual landscapes than you would normally expect. The other way he manages it is via the old classic Route One of the singer-songwriter: by writing some astonishingly good tunes.
The title track, Spirit, Soul and a Handful of Mud, gallops out of the speakers sounding very adjacent toLonesome Jubilee-era John Cougar Mellancamp (and that’s high praise), a glorious concoction of acoustic guitar, fiddle, and Turner’s ever-powerful voice, all coupled on to a suitably foot-stomping and barn-shaking rhythm section.
“If your heart is on the mountain and your soul is in the sea/And your head is in the clouds, you could come with me,’ he sings on the following Come With Me, but by then you’re pretty firmly hooked on for the ride anyway and it’s all a bit of a moot point.
From there the album swings through the many subjects that tend to bedevil the modern pagan troubadour, from activism (“They’d like to put a barcode on your soul”), to freedom from oppression, to spiritual awakening, karma and social justice, ageing, and much, much more.
It does all this lightly too. Turner has a gift for a good lyric — meaningful without ever sounding pious — and when coupled with the exemplary musicianship on show throughout the album, the result is a collection of songs about, well, fairly important stuff, but that sit at the rockier end of the folk spectrum and will slip insidious hooks into your brain and have you humming snatches of them most of the summer long.
‘Like flowers pressed between a page
A moment of beauty in the constant rage
I can’t let go but I know I should
Spirit and soul and a handful of mud’
Reviewer: Andy Stout
From The God of the Hinge:
James J. Turner’s latest album, “Spirit, Soul and Handful of Mud,” opens with the raucous title track, a song about mortality that manages to be joyous, somber, inspiring and sobering all at once, a profound disquisition on the meaning of life packed into less than four minutes and set to a rollicking Celtic-flavored tune.
The title track sets a sobering tone on the nature side of the equation, celebrating rather than mourning the reality of mortality and the earthy nature of human existence. Turner is is confident and well-anchored in a nature-centered pagan spirituality that manifests in his lyrics in various ways. In “Come With Me,” he invites the listener to come with him on a journey, but only “If your heart is on the mountain and your soul is in the sea.” Meanwhile, in “Long Way Around,” he celebrates living a life engaged and aware.
As the rain flows to the stream and sea
Life flows on through you and me
In the sun and sky and the grass and the trees
The very fabric of nature is alive in me
Turning to justice, Turner contrasts the rich and poor in “Heart of Gold.” “Watching You” is about our surveillant society, while “Karma Will Track You Down” he delights in the richly deserved comeuppance of the hypocritical.
As with his previous outings, Turner’s performance is bold, forceful and certain. He shows no wavering of his convictions, presenting instead an uncompromising, consistent set of beliefs.
Musically, the album rocks despite the contemporary folk instrumentation and arrangements. Acoustic guitars, fiddles and whistles shape and flavor the tunes, but the compositions meld styles and influences into a seamless and unique mix.
‘Spirit, Soul & a Handful of Mud’ – James J Turner “...a potent piece of folk rock”
I first encountered the music of James J Turner back in 2012 when I heard ‘How Could We Be Wrong?’ and in my opinion it was: “So right on every level ... music that makes its mark.” And now here comes ‘Spirit, Soul & a Handful of Mud’ due for release 22nd April 2016 ... so although the wait has been a long one, the result is a potent piece of folk rock, with certain emphasis on the rock.
If justice was done, there really shouldn’t be anyone that doesn’t already know this man’s work, but just in case I’ll tell you. Turner writes folk rock from the heavy side ... vocals delivered with a punch that will not be ignored, lyrics with the bite of a junkyard dog and hooks more infectious than a virulent virus. This music will get inside your brain and stay there, wherever you immerse yourself in its grasp ... with a JD or two, rocking out with steering-wheel percussion or simply soaking in its musical muscle. ‘Spirit, Soul & a Handful of Mud’ comes from somewhere vital and visceral with an instinctual, almost primal force you’ll want to share.
The album’s title track ‘Spirit, Soul & a Handful of Mud’ instantly pulls you away from wherever you are, this is gut-level, earthy music you cannot ignore. From there, the entreaty to ‘Come With Me’ pours out its passion, ‘Watching You’ asks its hard questions over scintillating violin breaks, while with its more plaintive vocals ‘Remember Me’ takes a softer more contemplative tone. The steam-hammer blues-rock of ‘Karma Will Track You Down’ launches a warning to the human condition, before ‘Heart Of Gold’ delivers a similar truth through its strong folk essence: “I may be a poor man but I have a heart of gold” and for my money, the soulful ballads ‘Take Your Soul’ and ‘A Game’ simply hit it. There’s not a single point in ‘Spirit, Soul & a Handful of Mud’ where you could accuse Turner of adding a filler track, perhaps that’s the result of a long hiatus between two albums ... consistently outstanding work.
Giving life to the soul of ‘Spirit, Soul & a Handful of Mud’ are James J Turner (vocals, guitar, whistles, mandolin, shruti box) Amy Chalmers (violin, backing vocals) Vicky Mutch (cello) Etienne Girard (bass guitar, fretless bass) Jay Hughes (drums, cajon, percussion) and Henry Priestman (accordion)
Reviewer: Tim Carroll
From: Liverpool Sound & Vision
Mr. Turner wrings out the expanse of refinement and karmic duty in such a way that at times the listener cannot help but feel overawed by the sensation. In tracks such as Watching You, Karma Will Track You Down, My Way Back Home and Take Your Soul, James J. Turner employs devastating anguish with sensitive, almost bloodletting, intimacy; it is a moulded creation fashioned from the very depth of the Earth and from the very centre of his own beliefs. Spirit, Soul & A Handful of Mud is a wonderful album written with unsuppressed joy and the will to offer a hand to wash yourself clean of the corporate mud that sticks to the body, a great delight of music”
Reviewer: Ian D. Hall
READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
(TRANSLATED FROM DUTCH)
It was with more than our usual attention and curiosity that we put the new album "Spirit , Soul & A Handful Of Mud " into our CD players , hoping that the quality of the songs on this album matched those on it’s predecessor (How Could We Be Wrong?). It should be said that this musician from Liverpool is still getting better and stronger over the years, because this new album exceeds our already quite high expectations many times over. James J Turner’s has a trademark powerful voice, and his songwriting skills deserve extra kudos . This is an absolutely fine album which more than deserves your attention.”
REVIEWER: FREDDY CELIS
James J .Turner is a singer-songwriter with heavy folk influences, as is also underlined by instruments such as the violin, mandolin and accordion. Or is it the other way around - a folksinger in the singer-songwriter tradition? Folk that rocks in places too. It doesn’t matter too much, since Turner treats us to a dozen new self-penned tunes of his very own brand. Some you can sing along to (“Watching You”, with a chorus reminding me of ‘hey you, the rock-steady crew’...), some you can folk-dance to (“Heart of Gold”) and many meant to sit down and listen to - you can still decide about the singing and dancing afterwards.Sit down and listen, because James J. Turner has a view on life he wants to communicate. He’d be happy if you shared his message and most unhappy if you took it for a manual (I presume, I didn’t ask). A lyricist once asked “What colour is the soul of man?”, but Turner’s question sounds more like “What is man, if not soul and spirit?”. And a little mud to symbolize his earthiness, viz. his inabilities and failures in view of his own promises and hopes. A handful of mud too, because no value can exist without being put in perspective by its counterpart. The soul and the spirit are not stand-alones, they must detach themselves from something basic – God’s clay, man’s mud.
James J. Turner’s songs are about the soul and the spiritual life as opposed to material and materialistic life - the latter bringing about damage and wreckage rather than happiness and salvation. Turner’s concern regards the good life, more exactly an individual’s good life: we’re all unique and able to choose between good and bad (“Watching You”). He’s on the side of the poor soul as this is the truthful soul (“Heart Of Gold”). Turner suggests a strong sense of duty when he states that one may opt for the bad life, but no-one can escape his karma (”Karma Will Track You Down”, half song, half chant).
James J. Turner is concerned with items such as morality, justice and our repressive society, yet he’s not your usual rebel or protest singer-songwriter. All in all, this about the spiritual life. It’s no surprise to learn then that Turner is an active participant in the druid / pagan movement.
This is a very nice record full of real songs. Turner performs them with a powerful and convincing voice and is backed by an accomplished and versatile band.
Reviewer: Eddy Bonte
READ THE ORIGINAL REVIEW HERE
From: WRITTEN IN MUSIC
"Come With Me" invites Turner, with his powerful voice timbre. If you follow him every song brings you one step further along the river that meanders to the soul of this musician. Energetic, hypnotic folk-rock.
Reviewer: Cis Van Looy
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From: ANDREW LOCK SOUND & VISIONS
"James has delivered a spirited upbeat album full of well written songs all delivered with plenty of heart, honesty and more than a handful of passion.
The spirit of folk music at it’s best is ever present ... also love the images and pictures some of James lyrics paint, the wonders of nature including mountains, forests and rivers and more but he can also show his political side and put his views across with intent.
‘Spirit, Soul & a Handful of Mud’ has an infectious groove ...‘Come With Me’ is a slab of uplifting country folk and full of positive energy, while more poignant is ‘Remember Me’ with it’s wonderful almost mournful cello work.
Two corkers are ‘Alive Inside’ with it’s Eastern style opening, solid acoustic guitar riffing, strong lead/harmony vocals and even a little chanting and ‘The Long Way Around’... We have a couple of belting drinking songs: ‘Heart of Gold’ with it’s touch of Blackmore’s Night medieval magic and ‘My Way Back Home’ which is a great road song.
A change in style for ‘Take Your Soul’ which has a dreamy feel with again beautiful violin work and I hear just a touch of one of my all time favourite bands Mostly Autumn at times.
The most traditional folk number on the album ‘A Game’ sways wonderfully with the whistle work adding to the true folk feel and the album closes in Celtic rock style with ‘Never Again’ with it’s outstanding hook and knockout chorus while lyrically James gets his message across in style.
Quality throughout from a fine singer/songwriter who has real passion to match his talent.
Reviewer: Andrew Lock
From: THE NEXT GIG
(Translated from Dutch)
James J Turner has released “Spirit, Soul & a Handful of Mud” as a successor to his successful second album ' How Could We Be Wrong '. With this new album, James J Turner has developed into one of the main pagan artists of our time. The album has a Celtic feel with the landscape, the environment, spirituality and the human struggle of existence at the forefront of the topics Turner chooses for his songs. Whatever your personal beliefs, you will love this fine folk-rock album of great sounding songs, especially the songs featuring violinist Amy Chalmers who does some fine work in ' Watching You ' and ' Come With Me '. The lyrics are important in Turner’s work, so it is a pity that there was no booklet added. The opening and title track of the album is strong; ' Alive Inside is a strong rock number with another prominent role for the violin; '' Karma Will Track You Down " is the most appealing song from the album, along with the catchy folk tune ' Heart of Gold '. James J Turner has delivered an album here with many highlights, ending with the strong ' A Game ' and the smoother ' Never Again '. All in all, this is a fine album that is a feast for Turner’s fans.
Reviewer: Richard Wagenaar