Union Jill are a Yorkshire-based female acoustic duo with over a decade of festival and folk club experience. As singers, instrumentalists and songwriters, they bring a sense of storytelling with their songs, with vocals that produce spellbinding effects with their rich harmonies. Union Jill have established an appealing stage presence and gather an ever-growing fan base across the UK. Taking their inspiration from a wide range of styles, Union Jill bring their own energy and passion to the acoustic music scene. They mix traditional folk instrumentation (guitars, mandola, concertina) with an edgy contemporary feel and powerful vocal delivery. Sharon and Helen’s ability to tell a story through lyrics draws in audiences of all types. Their material embraces historical themes and contemporary issues; personal experiences and protest songs. They have an on-stage banter that you only get from two women sharing a stage.
With four albums under their belt (two produced by Clive Gregson and John Wood) they bring a rich and well-developed set.
"It’s always nice when you find a stunningly good act....making lovely harmony-drenched acoustic music reminiscent of the Indigo Girls.” - Bob Fischer, BBC Radio.
Helen Turner and Sharon Jagger have been performing together since 2006. After discovering a shared love of folk and acoustic music they soon realised their voices were meant to be together. Both bring distinctive songwriting styles to Union Jill and achieve some spellbinding effects with their voices and instruments (mandola, guitar and anglo concertina.)
They've gained a reputation for quality performances and well-crafted songs. Their onstage presence is natural, funny and personable and, whilst their material touches on the darker side of life at times, they enjoy a natural rapport with each other and with the audience leading to banter delivered with a light touch.
Union Jill are now deservedly establishing themselves as a long-standing and growing presence in the acoustic/folk world.
"Stunning duo, great musicianship, harmonies and presentation, songs both thought-provoking and entertaining.They will deservedly be going a long way. See them now!" - Topic Folk Club
“Sharon and Helen [have] established themselves as a duo to watch out for. Accomplished writers and performers... there is something instinctive, symbiotic almost, in the way they blend as musicians.” - Oz Hardwick, Rock n Reel
High Praise from Nigel Schofield for theCD 'Respectable Rebellion' in Tykes News
"I am delighted to report that in every respect, this astounding record
fails to disappoint. It is one of the best produced folk albums I have
heard in years, drawing together a full and busy sound that never sounds
cluttered and has appropriate variety to render each of the thirteen
tracks a stand-out in its own right. It's a remarkable achievement."
" The quality of the songs - all originals - is also exceptional. One is
reminded of the better recordings by Mary Chapin Carpenter, a
benchmark which Union Jill regularly surpass. It's a faultless record:
without exception every track rewards repeated listening both sonically
and in the wit and depth of its songwriting."
"Accomplished guitarists and articulate songwriters although the first attribute to win over audiences is the intuitive harmony of their distinct yet complementary voices." - Rock 'n Reel (R2)
Union Jill at the Woodman Folk Club
None of that worrying about what to say in a review with Union Jill ... Sharon Winfield and Helen Turner give you enough material for a whole season’s reviews!
Bryn quoted a previous review in introducing them as, “Favourite post-feminist harmony-singing folkies”. On stage, this was quickly corrected by Sharon and Helen in favour of, “Radical second wave women”. At this point we’re beginning to think this might be a bit different (perhaps with a hint of a feminist theme?). By the end of the evening the floor is covered with paper aeroplanes, bubbles have filled the air, and a clothes line is strung with paper figures containing notes about each audience member’s favourite body part! According to Union Jill, there are two types of audience – those that sit and listen, and those who will, “Do stuff”. They had correctly identified the Woodman audience as the latter! Oh, and they cut our resident heckler off at the knees with the comment, “You’re going to find this really difficult”, when inviting the audience to write the name of their favourite body part on one of the little paper figures. Well, he asked for it! He ALWAYS asks for it!
Union Jill don’t do covers. To quote them, “We can’t agree on them, so we do all our own material”. That statement gives an early insight into Union Jill’s performance. Their material is original, and in between songs, they disagree a lot! What it doesn’t tell you, is that their songs are beautifully crafted and precisely performed. We always think the sound check tells you a lot about how precise a performance is going to be. We enjoyed the sound check! Technically, they blend and harmonise perfectly.
The banter started with the introduction to their opening song, ‘Witch Hunt’. Cue banter about Helen resembling a witch. The banter is very Yorkshire – blunt and to the point. If you are the kind of folk club goer who thinks that the bonny black hare is a little bunny rabbit, then you could possibly be a little shocked at times. But then, what folkie doesn’t know the truth about the bonny black hare? Or, indeed, the issue of hair loss?
Sharon on guitar and mandola, and Helen on guitar and mandolin, have a variety and depth that makes the ‘live music’ experience very special indeed. Combined with a wide range of subject matter and inter-song banter, this makes an evening fly by. In no time they were finishing their set with (feminist anthem?) ‘Sisterhood’. Their well-deserved encore was the appropriately titled ‘Home Again’.