At first glance, news of a cover of "Cotton Eye Joe" would seem as welcome as Omicron arriving on your doorstep, but it just goes to show at this time of year ho ho how wrong you can be when it is Tim Prottey-Jones and Kezia Gill at the helm.
Forget the annoying speeded up Eurotrash version of Rednex this version is diving deep in to the lyrics and exposing the dark origins of the song.
Restored to to it's folky Amercana Roots this version consists of just fiddle banjo and percussion and is slowed down to the pace of a Texan drawl. Even Tim's vocals seem a little more gravelly than normal as if he has spent the last few months chewing tobacco to get into character for this performance, a mixture of disdain and hatred, bemoaning his current unmarried situation.
There are various theories about what "Cotton Eyed" might mean varying from being drunk on moonshine, or having been blinded by drinking wood alcohol through to having been affected by syphillis. Our introduction to this curious mercurial figure comes in the opening verse.
"He came to town like a midwinter storm
He rode through the fields, so handsome and strong
His eyes was his tools and his smile was his gun
But all he had come for was havin' some fun"
The second verse leads us into even murkier waters hinting at either murder or slavery, after all this song dates back to around the time of the American Civil War
"He brought disaster wherever he went
The hearts of the girls was to hell broken sent
They all ran away so nobody would know
And left only men 'cause of Cotton-Eyed Joe"
Tim is joined after the first verse by Kezia Gill bringing her own bluesy presence to the proceedings making a perfect foil for Tim and turning the song into a marvellously magnificent dark duet. It all goes to make a stunning single and a great way to start 2022.
Cotton Eye Joe is released 14th January 2022