“…Temperature’s Rising should deservedly seem them greatly widening their fanbase horizons.…”
The debut album by Wilmington, East Sussex acoustic duo Jim and Josie Tipler, joined (remotely) by an assortment of guests on the likes of fiddle, mandolin, string bass and accordion, Temperature’s Rising impressively builds on their recent singles with songs that span the political and the personal, keeping an ear on wrapping them in catchy but never crassly commercial melodies.
It opens with a spoken over piano prelude before launching into full band mode with the rocking title track, inspired by both the first Women’s March post Trump’s inauguration and the Brexit protests under the slogan “Bridges, not walls” as manifestations of the call for positive change and the defence of democracy.
By contrast, the lively fingerpicked scales of the harmonised ageing-themed ‘A Little Piece Of Mind’, channelling ‘Freight Train’, turn things more introspective in an ode to menopause and mid-life crisis, while, the verses sung by Josie, the first single, ‘Littlefield’ is a gentle chiming acoustic guitar ballad inspired by seeing a light on in a house long left empty, the hymnal refrain capturing the song’s metaphor of hope and recovery.
Memories turn to childhood on the fingerpicked traditional troubadour sounding ‘Riding The Whale’, the lyrics, both literal and metaphoric, sung in descending scales, recalling Tipler’s recollections of playing with his father on the beach.
It’s back then to political comment with the lurching march beat folk rock ‘Making Progress’ aptly described as “a bit of a rant about stresses of the modern world”, sung by Josie and putting me in mind of the early Strawbs. Drawing again on real life, the lazily strummed lope of ‘Buckle Up’ recounts the story of how, in 1969, his request for leave refused, homesick UAF mechanic Sergeant Paul Meyer ‘borrowed’ a Hercules C-130 transport aircraft to fly from his base in East Anglia back to his newly-wed wife in Virginia only to crash into the English Channel shortly after phoning her to say he was coming home, his body never recovered.
Another upbeat tempo number with brushed snares and mandolin, the verses sung by Josie with Jim handling the chorus, ‘Turnaround’ adopts getting lost on a journey as metaphor for changing your life path when it feels you’re getting nowhere then, gently fingerpicked and putting me in mind of Reg Meuross, Jim takes over for ‘Something You Don’t See Every Day’ which, with the album’s sole expletive, addresses how today’s media can desensitise us to the daily horrors it serves us as infotainment.
By way of a complete thematic swerve, featuring some suitably cosmic guitar and keyboard atmospherics, ‘Spacetime’ stems from Brian Cox’s explanation of the concept that everything continues to exist somewhere, essentially a scientific take on heaven. Another previous single, here remixed, set to walking beat with descending keyboard notes by producer John Fowler, sung by Josie ‘Say It All The Time’ is about the black dog of depression, spawned from both Jim having a gloomy funk out walking on the South Downs and a musician friend who took their own life, originally released in 2019 to raise awareness of suicide prevention.
Should you be wondering, the duo take their name from a town near Rye, not far from Wilmington Wood, and, musically clad again in minstrel-like clothes, ‘The Ghosts of Milton Hide’ with its Danny Elfman-like music box accompaniment serves as a cautionary tale about the shadowy beings out there who’ll tempt you to stray from the path with their sweet refrains. Naturally, it has nothing to do with politicians.
It remains in the forest for the final track, ‘Took To Wing (Nightingale)’, albeit here serving as refuge and protector as, evocative of Denny’s stint in Fotheringay, unfolding a traditional folk styled modern fable about a woman seeking to escape domestic abuse.
The duo have established a solid reputation around their local stomping grounds and, packaged in a gatefold sleeve with accompanying lyric booklet and artwork by Hastings artist Helen Bryant, Temperature’s Rising should deservedly seem them greatly widening their fanbase horizons.