jd meatyardTaking The Asylum – JD Meatyard (Probe Plus)

CD | DL | LP

Out Now

Former Calvin Party and Levellers 5 main man John Donaldson has just released the third album of his current JD Meatyard project. It’s an album that manages to retain his most vibrant characteristics while revealing new reflective depths.

With his previous album, Northern Songs, JD Meatyard produced nothing less than, for me, the finest examination of the political and moral climate of the age. His work has never lacked a personal touch, however, and this new collection brings that element to the fore.

Not that he holds back fully on the political ire: the poignantly laconic ‘Four Kids Playing On A Gaza Beach’ and ‘Never Seen A Kid Born Bad’ bear comparison with anything he’s produced in the past. But there’s a reflective feel to the fore here that has not been enjoyed such freedom to rise in his earlier releases, either as JD Meatyard or with Calvin Party. Album opener ‘We’ll Always Have New York’ proclaims an immediate upbeat tone with a direct address to his wife and memories of their wedding in the Big Apple. It’s a tone that’s never lost throughout the collection. ‘It’s A Wonderful Day’ entirely pushes cynicism away in its unabashed celebration of the small details of life, while ‘I’ll Catch A Falling Star’ pits simple enjoyment of honest pleasures against the materialistic boasting of a so-called self-made man and wins hands down.

It would be wrong to assume that depth of observation is suppressed, however. ‘Anna Had a Kid’, for example, probes the darker recesses of those life details, while ‘Waves’ has an enticingly gruff bluesy growl atop a wonky guitar riff around which deeper existential proclamations weave ominously and enticingly in roughly equal measure.   What we end up with across the album is a tapestry as rich, diverse and uneven as life itself.

This is an artist looking deeper within himself and uncovering a quite stunning range and depth  If Northern Songs presented JD Meatyard at what felt like the peak of his powers, Taking The Asylum shows not only that he’s still there, but that he’s characteristically and defiantly refusing to stand still.


Find out more about JD Meatyard at his website: jdmeatyard.com.  You can get the album now from Probe Plus.

All words by Mark Whitby. More writing by Mark on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. Mark is one of the DJs on Dandelion Radio and can also be found on Twitter as @markwdandelion.

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Mark Whitby is a regular DJ on Dandelion Radio. In 2005, his book 'The Festive Fifty', chronicling the history of John Peel's famous end of year chart, was published. He's tried being in bands but gave up after his surf-punk combo The Beached Whales ended in acrimonious failure in the late nineties, after which he decided to concentrate on listening to and spreading the word about music that was actually worth listening to. After hosting short-lived radio shows such as The A-Z of Punk, The Diamond Mine and Idiot Jukebox, he joined the Dandelion staff in 2006 and has been with them ever since. Among other things, recent obsessions include the Hungarian punk scene, short-lived and much-missed Isle of Man band The Chasms, Fuck Buttons and Jeffrey Lewis.


  1. A welcome smart review of a much neglected but great singer songwriter.
    Had he been from Brooklyn he’d be celebrated by all.

    Great tunes on this album and great lyrics.

    Its the best of the three JDM albums.

    Now being played on 6 Music by Gideon co, more good reviews on the way I’m hoping.

  2. A most underrated artist and a top songsmith.
    This is his best album of the three, and they are all very good.

    He’s played again last night on 6 Music its looking like people are picking up on him.

  3. I see that Gideon Coe has played this quite a few times now on 6 Music but I cannot understand how Reilly hasn’t played it.

    Two of the most intelligent songwriters on the same wee label.
    Probe Plus’s Nigel Blackwell and Jd Meatyard, I’ll be seeing both this week in Bury St Edmunds.

    Listening quite a bit now to 6 Music. It really is much more MOR than I thought. The best shows are in fact the ‘on line’ shows where the truly edgy songs are to be heard.


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