Tag: folk

Album review: Nina Harries

NINA HARRIES Nina Harries [self-released] If you have not already had the good fortune to be acquainted with Nina Harries, let New Boots introduce you. Nina is a British double…

NINA HARRIES
Nina Harries [self-released]

If you have not already had the good fortune to be acquainted with Nina Harries, let New Boots introduce you. Nina is a British double bassist and vocalist hailing from Northampton. She comes from a family of musicians, she trained in western classical music for four years at the Royal College of Music under double bass professor Enno Senft of the London Sinfonietta. In the last two years of her degree at the RCM she began to work as a soloist and band bassist for several acts from the London band scene, namely The Burning Glass, John Fairhurst Trio, Barbarella’s Bang Bang, Symphonica Feat DJ Switch and the London Electronic Orchestra.

At this point Nina also began to discover a love for solo performance, and began to experiment with performing a mix of original and cover songs using only double bass and voice. She fits nicely under the ‘dark folk’ genre, but also brings with her some flavours of rock, trip-hop and EDM. She has a fantastic range – massive respect for hitting those real low notes – and her vocals appear different on every track, whilst still managing to maintain her own ‘Nina style’.

Each perfectly-formed song on Nina Harries has new, fresh influences, when compared to the previous track. You can never be sure where she will go next. The album was recorded with producer and engineer Peter Miles at his studio Middle Farm Studios in Devon, and has an overall feel of the later albums by Nico or more modern styles like music by This Is The Kit.

The album starts with a slow build and absorbs you in with ‘Heavy Doubt’, which does what it says on the tin, perfectly reflecting the feeling of doubt in the mind, but even if this is not your thing do not rest here. There are two stand-out tracks on the album, and the second track ‘Lose Yourself’ is definitely one of them. With its faster-paced rhythm and the way she bends the opening notes on the bass is reminiscent of Mick Karn from Japan. Accompanied with Nina rapping in unison, she is absolutely nailing the experience of being a woman in a male dominated musical genre. It is an immediate ‘add to play list’ moment.

Track three ‘Icarus’ has an eastern vibe and once again has a slow build; at 8 minutes 34 seconds it is the longest track on the album, but is well worth the investment of time. At this point in the album she could have gone anywhere, and she certainly doesn’t disappoint. This track captivated me, in the same way The Doors captivated me with The End. It is truly mesmerising, sit back, relax and enjoy. ‘Will; I’m Not’ is a collaboration with the album producer Peter Miles, and sticking to the view that the bass and vocals can do anything and go anywhere, Nina moves into the zone of EDM dance music. Re-enforcing the fact that she has the skills to do what ever she wants, in whatever genre she sees fit.

On ‘O’Lothsome Day’ and ‘Pendle Hill’ her vocals have a slight ASMR quality as the album moves back to her dark folk and gothic rock roots. The second stand-out track is ‘One Hard Task’, an alternative rock track which hooks you in immediately and sounds so perfectly formed. Along with ‘Lose Yourself’ they are the “check out Nina Harries” songs from this album. The final track ‘Int;;Ext;;Int;;Ext;; / Butterfly’ is a beautiful conclusion to the album moving back to the EDM-style and includes the piano, bass and of course the superb ethereal vocals of Nina.

I think it is fair to say that you cannot and should not underestimate this lady, you cannot take her for granted. This album will move you through a rainbow of sounds and is deeply captivating. But just like the butterfly, do not attempt to try to pin her down: she will sit with you, but she cannot be boxed. She is on a mission to explore all the realms available to her musical craft, and to create new ones. She is certainly one to pay attention to.

Lisa Eversden

Nina Harries is out September 13th [order vinyl and CD here]. The album launch show is the same day at Hoxton Hall.

https://www.ninaharries.com

[cover photo by Joe Brown]

 

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New Music Friday: Kenneth J. Nash

East Northamptonshire musician Kenneth J Nash has been a crucial cog on the scene this past decade, consistently putting out top notch albums, running festivals and recording bands. His New…

East Northamptonshire musician Kenneth J Nash has been a crucial cog on the scene this past decade, consistently putting out top notch albums, running festivals and recording bands. His New Boots interview time has been long overdue, so the release of his new EP ‘The Explorer’ gave us the excuse to get more solid nuggets on his journey so far.

You’ve been making music for a while now; solo since 2010 but before that too. For anyone uninitiated in the way of the Nash, is there a potted history you can give?
My first band was in 1984-6 where I played rhythm guitar. We were still at school and our first proper gig was at the end of term in front of the whole school. We had around a ten minute set of originals penned by our frontman Dominic and the rest were Bob Dylan covers. We didn’t really have a band name as I recall. From there I joined numerous bands, all with little success, but found success as a DJ. I’d grown up with the emergence of early hip-hop and loved cutting and scratching on my hand-me-down 1970s double disco decks (no speed control – just slipmats). My DJ sets were mainly hip-hop, with a bit of soul and reggae thrown in. Spending most weekends DJing and working daytimes meant that I had no spare time for bands. However I kept playing guitar and began to become interested in singer-songwriters. Over the next two decades during periods where I was taking a break from DJing I joined various rock, punk and metal bands as a guitarist or bassist, but it wasn’t till 2010 that I started writing songs for myself to sing. I wrote a song called ‘Tattoos Over Scars’ and added a YouTube video of a picture I’d drawn accompanied by a badly recorded version of the song. It got quite a few views and some great comments so it drove me to become a singer-songwriter.

I’d always used poetry as a means of expressing my feelings but had kept the poems to myself. I realised that poetry and songs are kind of the same thing, and began writing a series of songs that proved cathartic and helped me deal with the issues that spending a life ‘on the road’ had given me. Around this time I was asked to join a band as the lead singer and second guitarist; this was called The Ghost Chorus and featured Rob Reeves, Scott Warner and Cliff Lambert. We fashioned our sound on Nick Cave meets The National, and our first gig was supporting Blacklight Pioneer to a large audience. Unfortunately as these things go we only got to record a couple of tracks before we disbanded. I then made the decision to pursue a solo career.

Who are your main influences in 2019? Musically/non-musically…
I listen to a lot of music. My current favourites include Gregory Alan Isokov and Glen Hansard. Outside of music I would say that I’m influenced by nature and love.

What was the reaction like to your last full-release album Luna? Were you satisfied with the finished work?
It got a good reaction, with some lovely reviews, and the stream numbers now mark it out as my most listened to work. It was a long time in the making though: including being signed to a label, recording it twice for them and then them folding. Meaning the version I released was self recorded and produced. I listen back now and I feel happy with it, as it was a snapshot of the band and I at that time. It was recorded live, so has the feel I wanted. It is the soundtrack to an as yet unmade movie. I had plans to shoot a movie, but they’re still plans at this time. I am satisfied with it as an album, there is some excellent musicianship by my band which includes J M Jones on guitar, Max Mclean (of Miyagi Car Wash) on drums, Jamie Gilbert on bass, Alan Tang on keys and of course Fran Taylor providing beautiful backing vocals.

Tell us everything about this new EP, ‘The Explorer’.
Over the last few years I’ve been working with Musicians Against Homelessness [MAH], having being through some pretty bleak periods of my life. I have been homeless and suffered mental health issues. I wrote the song ‘The Explorer’ about this period, and hope that it can convey the message for those that suffer in silence. I approached MAH who are helping me to promote the release of the EP. There’s been two remixes of the title track so far: Max Mclean has put his Miyagi Car Wash touches on one, and Rob G Nichols has produced an electronica version. I’ve also included an acoustic version, and ‘Around Again’ with just myself and Veronika Rauchfussova, who is a Czech Republic classical violinist. She’s staying with a friend of mine and he introduced us. She is an incredible musician, and unusually for a classically trained musician she enjoys the free flow of playing without sheet music. Which is a bonus as I’m not very good at theory! I’ve also included a live recording of a song of mine, which is called ‘She’s The One That Saved Me’. This was recorded in a log cabin in Wales and is a song about my wife, who saved me from being homeless.

What can we expect from the next album?
I’ve got a couple of album projects on the go. I’m putting together an album of my most listened to tracks from the last ten years, but redone with my band as we are now. This will have the feel of the Miyagi Car Wash remix of ‘The Explorer’, as it’ll be produced by Max Mclean. Then the second album is all new[ish] songs, which will include the songs on ‘The Explorer’ EP, plus some other new ones – and two or three songs from the limited issue album ‘Room 7’ that I released to my core fans last year. This album will be very sparse, whilst hopefully being intimate and totally acoustic and live. I love Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska and this has been an influence, as well as Damien Rice’s back catalogue.

You run the “Old Hotel” record label and studio. Tell us how you operate and why you do it.
When I started releasing my own material I had some label interest, but after reading the small print I was shocked about what I was going to have to give away in order to be signed. I declined this, and further record label interest, as I felt I could do a reasonable job myself. I saw some of my contemporaries caught out by these labels and decided that there was a gap for an honest decent label. Old Hotel Records was born to take care of the artists and bands I knew. I would offer a low cost recording service specialising in live recordings, and coaching on performance and songwriting, then use my network in order to gain the artist recognition. It still operates in the same way to this day. I don’t pretend that I can give artists the rock star lifestyle, but I will help them release their songs and keep all the rights and royalties for themselves. I offer my artists festival slots, radio airplay and contacts to take them further than I can. We have a pretty eclectic roster, but all of them are excellent.

You are very much part of a music scene here in Northamptonshire. Any favourite acts, venues, or festivals you want to give a shout out to?
As a supporter of original music I would like to give a shout out to all original music creators, promoters, bloggers, journalists, radio DJs, venues and festivals. The live scene has been taken over in the towns by covers bands and tribute acts. It’s tough to keep going if you feel your work isn’t valued. But keep on keepin’ on. Art is art whether the public pay to see it or not.

What has been your favourite KJN musical moment of the past 12 months?
My favourite musical moment has been hearing the audiences singing along with my songs. It always gives me a buzz, and I’ve been noticing it happening more and more, especially during the last year.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Gregory Alan Isokov – This Empty Northern Hemisphere. I’m a fairly recent fan, but love this 2009 album.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have in the next few months?
My burning desire is to get both planned albums recorded and released within the next twelve months… I’m not sure if this is achievable! In the next few months I’m on the road playing festivals all over the country. I’d like to also get some demo’s recorded of some new songs that I’ve recently written. Plus I’m exploring some collaborations with other artists and producers.

The Explorer is out now

 

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New Music Friday: Amii Dawes

Indie-folk singer-songwriter Amii Dawes has been enchanting Northampton and the wider world for the last few years. New “comeback” single ‘Filthy’ progresses her sound on to new heights, so New…

Indie-folk singer-songwriter Amii Dawes has been enchanting Northampton and the wider world for the last few years. New “comeback” single ‘Filthy’ progresses her sound on to new heights, so New Boots had to take five with her. Kettle on then…

How did you start on this path? You’ve been writing songs since 12, is that right?
Yes, I started at age 12. I found it really difficult when my Grandad passed away and writing poetry and short stories was the only way that I could deal with stuff. My Grandad was obsessed with those home shopping channels and he once bought a Yamaha keyboard, and he would sit me down and try to teach me Beatles songs on it. He left the keyboard to me when he passed away, and I wrote my first ever song called ‘Here With Me’. I still use that keyboard to this day.

You’ve been in bands too, could you tell us a bit about that part of your history?
I joined my first band called Light Factory when I was about 16/17, I wrote most of the songs and we had a much more fun/pop vibe than the stuff I make now. Then I was in OhBoy! and we made mostly noisy pop stuff. We got to do some really cool things in that band; we played Maida Vale and got to perform at some amazing festivals like 2,000 Trees.

How would you describe your sound?
I really don’t know how to describe my current sound if I’m honest. I think I’ve always wanted to write in different genres, but got nervous so in the past I tended to stick to the more comfortable acoustic folksy kind of vibe. Now I feel like I’ve found my style a little bit more, so I’m experimenting with different styles and taking inspiration from the music I listen to, which is literally a bit of everything. My main influence has always been Joni Mitchell, I happen to think she’s the greatest songwriter of all time and has done everything from acoustic folk to jazz to soft rock and beyond, I think she’s incredible. I’m also a massive Beatles fan. And Annie Lennox. And Simon & Garfunkel. And pretty much anyone that has ever written a song that I’ve listened to.

You put an album out in 2015. How was that experience? How it been easy to follow it up with writing and recording new material?
Recording and releasing Little Blue Book was such a great experience. Before that I had recorded one EP which I mainly used to just sell hard copies of at gigs and things. To have a collection of songs that I’d put my heart and soul into out there in the open for everyone to listen to if they wanted was a lovely feeling. I took a little hiatus from recording but was still very active musically with bands, writing and gigs. I did a tour of Europe in 2017 and when I returned from that I knew that the next thing I recorded had to top anything I’ve done before, so I definitely didn’t want to rush into anything just for the sake of it.

Tell us everything about this new song, ‘Filthy’.
The new single ‘Filthy’ is, I think, one of the best songs I’ve written to date. As a kid I was always a little bit strange and little bit of a geek. I used to think that that was a bad thing, but in the last couple of years have really come to terms with the fact that it’s what makes me who I am, and I’m now really proud of it. The song is basically about celebrating everything that makes us different, and that if we were all the same the world would be a pretty boring place.
The song was recorded at The Animal Farm, which is an independent record label based in London that I’ve been working with for about a year now. I sent them a demo of the song and they really liked it, so they took me under their wing and helped me to turn it into what it is now. I sing all the vocals on the song and play guitar, and the Leppanen brothers from The Animal Farm play bass, drums and electric guitar.

There’s a nice video to accompany it.
I’m so proud of the music video. The idea of the song is celebrating people for their differences and the video shows that too. I wanted a really simple idea for the video, just a bunch of people stood in front of a camera showing their natural reactions to every day things. It really shows off the people at their best, with no fancy lighting or camera trickery, just them being themselves. I also got to direct the video which was great fun and it was shot and edited by my very talented friend James Ryan.

Any Northamptonshire acts or people you wanna give a shout out to?
I play in Northampton all the time, I think our music scene is one of the best in the country but also one of the most underrated. There are so many people that I love here, but one of my favourites has to be Velvet Engine. We go back a few years now and I think she’s just fab! I also love working with anyone that is associated with the Umbrella Fair Organisation, I think they do great things not only for the music scene but for the community as a whole.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
I pre-ordered Lewis Capaldi’s debut album just this morning, he’s got one of the best voices I’ve heard in a long time. Also Dermot Kennedy; I went to see him live the other day and he blew my mind.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
I have a few more singles and videos coming out throughout this year which I really can’t wait for people to hear. I really do think that it’s my best work yet. I think things are heading in the right direction for me at the moment, so I just want to keep making the best music I can make, working with people that I admire and hopefully just keep on doing what I love to do.

 

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New Music Friday: Kev Minney

Northampton-born artist Kev Minney went to Brighton to find himself; and the process worked if his music is anything to go by. As he prepares for his sophomore album with…

Northampton-born artist Kev Minney went to Brighton to find himself; and the process worked if his music is anything to go by. As he prepares for his sophomore album with the release of new single ‘God Is An Algorithm’ New Boots took the opportunity to get some more of the details of his personal and musical journey.

How did you become a singer-songwriter?
I became a singer-songwriter after turning 30. Before this time I spent almost two decades around the Northampton jam scene. I think I always was searching to do something deeply creative, but never had the confidence, or never knew exactly what it was that I wanted to do. I moved to Brighton around seven years ago. I think I needed the change of scenery, and that change helped me discover that I wanted to play folk music, rather than rock/blues/jazz stuff. I was always in and out of various different bands, but in the back of my mind I was seeking what I wanted to do. It kind of was perfect timing to have this change; a lot of other things changed for me around that time. If I would have stayed in Northampton I would have made this change eventually, even though being in Brighton did help, it was the more the case that I needed to find a new love for music. I was always listening to artist like Nick Drake and co, but was never playing that stuff.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences in getting to here?
I like the fact that I sing with my Northampton voice. A lot of folks down here in Brighton think I’m from a small farm or something, because of my accent isn’t as clean as it is down here. I play around with a lot of odd guitar tunings, and like to find various inverted chords. The piece I’m writing needs to interest me first and foremost. I get easily bored, so it has to have something unusual about it. I obviously hope that my sound is interesting to the listener, or at least I hope they can either be inspired or feel something from the song. A lot of influence probably comes from the guitar, though I find it more interesting when it comes from the song. With my songs I try my best to not hide anything and be open with them. The album I have listened to the most is Blue by Joni Mitchell, and for that very reason of being total open, raw and emotive.

Your album Stories Of The Sky from 2017 seemed to go down well. What was the reaction like?
Ah, it is so hard to say. From an artist point of view, you either look too much into it, or kick it under the carpet and try not to look. I was very pleased with it, I learned a million lessons, and I improved. I think this is what artists should always aim for; to always improve, and provide honest, decent songs. To be completely transparent the artist also needs a good level of drive too, as well as good songs. I worked incredibly hard to get it out there and heard, and just hoped that people enjoy it. I felt that Stories of the Sky was a time of establishing myself in the singer-songwriting world. I am happy with it and very happy with the reaction I received. I got played on BBC Radio, in Acoustic magazine, and knocked out a few European and UK tours. Though I am more happy with my forthcoming second album, but I think everyone says that!

Tell us about this new single, ‘God Is An Algorithm’.
First of all, the whole album [to be called Modern Stories] is all about stories of our modern time: technology, mental health or having good friends, it’s very broad. This single is about that algorithms making more and more decisions for us, therefore losing our free will. Book writer Yuval Noah Harari had just released his second book Homo Deus: A brief history of tomorrow. He was talking on a podcast and he mentioned the words ‘God is an algorithm’ – I thought, that’s a great song title, and listened further to the podcast. A week or so later, and after reading some of his book, I managed to write the song. I am really inspired by technology, astronomy, and general philosophy. I sometimes switch between these subjects and raw human emotions in my songs, or try to link the two.

What are your live shows like? Why should people come see you?
Sometimes it is just me, sometimes with Andy who plays keys, violins, mandocellos and other instruments. Sometimes it’s with Steph who plays keys and provides backing vocals. And for my next gig I have hired a string quartet! I much prefer playing with others when possible. I try my best to engage with the audience, and try my best to just be myself.

Best thing about moving to Brighton? Worst thing about leaving Northampton?
Leaving Northampton was really hard. I have a lot of good friends there, but it was a decision I had to make, as I was desperate for a change. I recently recorded a video with AudioStage in Northampton [for series 3], and was chatting to Marcus and co. They mentioned how the Northampton scene music is growing, which is amazing. We have always had so many great musicians and bands, and it is great to hear it is growing. When I moved to Brighton in 2011 it wasn’t purely for music reasons, it was more-so for needing a change, I was 29 when I left and it was the first time I left my hometown. Brighton has a great music scene: it’s lively, every night there is something happening, and I have managed to become friends with a lot of folks in the music scene here. I still keep in touch with people in Northampton, and they also support me a lot with my music. I am really appreciative of this.

What has been your favourite moment of the past 12 months, career-wise?
Quite a few! Recording the ten songs and making the music videos were all enjoyable. I have really enjoyed playing shows with Andy and Steph. We have been having a great time playing live, and this last year I have felt that I have much more confidence on stage. That’s a big thing, as it took me a while to get over nerves, which I still have, but I feel more at home. Those who know me know that I stutter a bit, and sometimes stuttering whilst talking live is a bit of a pain in the arse. But I’m used to it; sometimes I just can’t always get my message across clearly.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
As I writing this I am listening to an artist called The Miserable Rich – I’m loving their music [chamber pop]. Also the classics, I have been playing a lot of Beatles stuff recently. I kinda purposefully pick songs to sing along with, so I can improve my voice. Recently I have been trying to learn the cheesiest song ever written, ‘Unchained Melody’. It’s beautiful, but so hard to sing!

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
Mostly to carry on what I am doing. I feel I have found a really nice balance of being creative and getting stuff done. I am already writing the third record, so that’s on the cards for sure. Steph and I are currently setting up a European tour, and then will do another UK tour. So, yes, write, record, tour, love it!

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New Music Friday: Josh Wylie

Northants singer-songwriter Josh Wylie creates catchy melodies that mix folk with indie-pop. His latest single ‘Rockets In Your Mind’ is his best yet, so New Boots took the time to…

Northants singer-songwriter Josh Wylie creates catchy melodies that mix folk with indie-pop. His latest single ‘Rockets In Your Mind’ is his best yet, so New Boots took the time to get some background from him.

How did you start writing and performing?
I began performing from an early age treading the boards at my local theatre in Finedon, Northamptonshire. When I was in my teenage years I began to write down lyrics that came to me and I’d record the melody on my phone and experiment with that. After pursuing a career in theatre and performing on the West End Stage I decided to follow my singer-songwriter roots. I picked up the guitar late, when I was twenty-one, at university, following a handful of lessons with a mate and a few beers – and self-taught myself from there. I’m by no means a Jimi Hendrix, but the acoustic guitar has helped me to forge my melodies and fuse them with my vocals; providing a new way of expressing myself.

How would you describe your sound?
Indie acoustic pop with a folky edge. I don’t really think about what genre I’m creating when I do it, it just sort of falls into that category I guess. Having an open mind to what you’re about to create is the secret I’d say. I never set out to ‘create a folk song’. I think I’d be limiting myself. Influence wise the main artist that I would go as far to say is my ‘idol’ [and I don’t use that term very often] is Frank Sinatra. The man had it all. The voice. The charisma. The stage presence. [I’ve released a swing covers album too, I like to be versatile].

What have you put out so far? What has been the reaction like?
I released my first major music video ‘Waiting Game’ in 2015 whilst at uni. I never expected the reaction it got. It’s hit over 30 thousand views to date. I don’t really know how it happened, but I’ll take it! University was a big social hub at the time. It was a massive creative community at the London College of Music and I think all the students really took note of each other’s work and there was a massive respect for ‘new music’.

Tell us everything about this new single, ‘Rockets In Your Mind’.
‘Rockets In Your Mind’ has been in my back catalogue for years! I think I actually wrote it way back in 2012 when I split with my ex-girlfriend. Breakups always make successful songs. It sounds cliche, but it’s true! It tells the story of a relationship that has reached breaking point. “Seems I’ve woke the rocket’s in your mind” is used metaphorically speaking to describe rocket-propelled missiles. These missiles are representative of the sheer destructive power of one’s mind, and the deadly damage it can cause. I’ve written a lot of songs but there’s just something about this song that makes it my favourite. It’s everything I’m about when it comes to music. It’s catchy, relatable and it make you want to grab the nearest chair, table or box and use it as a drum.

What are your live shows like?
My live shows vary. Acoustically speaking I often play small and intimate gigs. This year I’m focusing more on the studio and developing my songwriting. I want to have enough fresh music for the next decade! Last year was a really cool breakthrough year for me. Having performed my first so called ‘mini tour’ across Northamptonshire it was great to hit the scene sharing my music, but also to listen to the diverse talent that’s out there. Certain festivals that stood out for me were the likes of ‘Bardic Picnic’ in Northampton and ‘The Music Barn’ in Cranford. I’d definitely recommend either to any festival goer!

A proud moment was when I did a show at the Old Nag’s Head in Wollaston, now the Wollaston Inn. During the 60s and 70s it was famous for showcasing progressive bands of that era. Performing at any venue like that with such rich music history is an absolute blessing.

What has been your favourite Wylie musical moment of the past year?
Can I be cheeky and say two? I think having the opportunity to be a support act to Musical Youth has to be up there! Secondly, working with ‘Live in The Woods’ to film the music video to ‘Girl from Rosario’ was so much fun! Nature and music is just the best combination. I dare anyone to name a better one…

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
‘Hounds of Love’ by Kate Bush. One of the first artists I remember listening to, as my dad used to play all the concert and music videos. I think ‘Cloudbusting’ has to be my favourite from her. Anytime I play her music there’s a big feeling of nostalgia.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
To just bring a smile to many people’s faces. Wherever I play and wherever I go. Playing abroad in Argentina was pretty cool. I have family in Australia and South Africa. They’re itching for me to play a show in their parts. Maybe it’ll happen one day!

‘Rockets In Your Mind’ is out now on the usual digital platforms

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New Music Friday: Joe B. Humbled

When he’s not furiously lashing at his guitar and spitting into a microphone [in firstly The Mobbs and latterly GoGo Loco] Joe Martin likes to show off his softer side with…

When he’s not furiously lashing at his guitar and spitting into a microphone [in firstly The Mobbs and latterly GoGo Loco] Joe Martin likes to show off his softer side with his Joe B. Humbled solo project. His new single might be his best song yet, the melancholy widescreen retro-pop of ‘To Be True’. New Boots gets the lowdown on the Northamptonians latest movements.

Please give us a bit of background to your solo project.
Playing as a solo artist came way before The Mobbs. I have a wide musical taste, so my solo projects have usually been an aside to experiment with lots of different styles. I started writing, playing and recording folk acoustic songs in my bedroom in 2003. From there I became obsessed with perfecting a finger-picking style. I was very interested in keeping everything as basic as possible. I’d try to write songs that wouldn’t need any other instruments or musicians – just my acoustic guitar and my voice. It remained like this for a long time. The Mobbs became the real backbone for my songwriting, but I continued to perform and record occasionally as an acoustic act. Right now I am in a sort of songwriting haven. I suddenly have the technology to multi-track properly, and can record and perform everything myself. I have been on quite a personal musical journey since The Mobbs finished last year. I’ve gone back to the music I grew up listening to, and have also opened myself up to a lot of contemporary music.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences for this solo work?
I’ve found myself back in love with 1960s soul and the funkier side of rock ‘n’ roll. I’ve also been highly influenced by the work of Dan Auerbach [The Black Keys] and his record label Easy Eye Sound. Due to my love of analogue recorded sounds I’ve got into artists on Daptone Records, and most recently a label called Big Crown. Traditional and contemporary American roots music has always been something that I get excited about. I’m digging everything from Sam Cooke to Alabama Shakes at the moment. My new experiments in sound are quite soulful, I would say, and there is still a blues influence in some of the songs too. I’m perhaps showing off my ability to sing and do harmonies as oppose making a two minute rock ‘n’ roll noise. Although I still have that outlet with GoGo Loco.

What was the reaction like to the Ten Odes LP of 2015, and also the more recent EP from last year?
Ten Odes was a quick demo collection of the acoustic folk/blues songs I had been performing from 2010 to 2015. It was just a stage in time where I thought I’d better record something. It was nice working with Nick Ellison (on fiddle) and doing a vocal duet with Leila Jane. I didn’t push Ten Odes too much so the reaction was as small, as I intended it to be. This was also the case with the How Did The Folly Begin EP. It was just a point where I needed to make a record of the songs I had been working on. I lost interest pretty quickly with that EP to be honest.

Tell us about this new song, ‘To Be True’.
‘To Be True’ is quite an old song that I hadn’t been able to use for anything previously. This was the first thing I recorded toward the end of last year. When I had finished recording ‘To Be True’ I kept on writing and recording fresher material spurred on by the success of how it had turned out.

Any plans for Joe B. Humbled shows?
I am hoping to put a Joe B. Humbled band together this year. I can just say [at the moment] I have some very talented musicians interested – which is very exciting. We shall see what happens!

Any favourite bands and/or venues in Northamptonshire?
I’ve had a lot of fun playing percussion and knocking about with The Keepers. Those guys have the lust for music that I had at that age and it’s a tonic to be around them and feel inspired by their enthusiasm for it all. For this reason as well as their brilliant songs these guys are probably my favourite band at the moment. I do also like seeing Kilamojo live. The thing about Northampton music is that there has always been a sea of genres and something for everyone, everywhere – long may it continue. I like The Pomfret Arms as a venue, and The Lab. There’s masses of positivity around and plenty of support for Northampton music – same as ever. There’s always new music popping up all the time too!

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
American Love Call by Durand Jones & The Indicators

What is your burning desire for this project in the future? What plans do you have?
I want to perfect some aspects of the recording side of it. I’m always working hard to get the right drum sound. Now that I am a drummer and obsessed with rhythm I realise that the drumming is really the most important part! My desires and plan is to have a fully rehearsed and tight backing group so I can perform my new songs to an audience with a full band. There are more songs ready and I will be releasing these online over the next couple of months.

To Be True is out now via Bandcamp [see below]

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Record review: Paul Weller ‘True Meanings’

PAUL WELLER True Meanings [Parlophone] He’s always been a hard worker, but still: these feel like prolific times for Weller. Working in continuous collaboration seems to fire him up, as…

PAUL WELLER
True Meanings [Parlophone]

He’s always been a hard worker, but still: these feel like prolific times for Weller. Working in continuous collaboration seems to fire him up, as this is his third album in 20 months. It’s a song from the first of those, ‘The Ballad Of Jimmy McCabe’ from his Jawbone soundtrack, which revealed a slight return to Weller’s folk balladeer side, after years of experimenting with the cutting up of rock this way and that. 

It was composing, a few years back, ‘Gravity’ – the lush, orchestrated, melancholic centre of True Meanings – that gave Weller the determination to construct an album in a far more bucolic style. ‘Gravity’ truly is a stunning, delicate 150 seconds of music, with an immaculate and precise string arrangement courtesy of decade-long sideman Andy Crofts. This sideman/woman influence is repeatedly important to this, his 14th solo album, as fairly demonstrated on bubbling opener ‘The Soul Searchers’: a modern string arrangement by the avant-garde musician Hannah Peel, multiple contributions from Villagers’ Conor O’ Brien, and an old-school Hammond solo by Rod Argent.

The album settles in well. Jazzer ‘Mayfly’ has a deft bluesy guitar solo from the former Jam guitarist Steve Brookes to enliven proceedings, whilst ‘Old Castles’ has a soul-stirring strings-assisted group arrangement that recalls his Heliocentric days back in the year 2000. ‘What Would He Say?’ is a lounge-shuffler that seems directed at the importance of keeping positive when bitterness is the easier option. It’s also the sole “The Moons track” on the album, as it unites bassist Crofts with Ben Gordelier on drums and Tom Heel on his Rhodes piano. Though the flugel horn solo means you aren’t mistaken who’s in charge!

‘Aspects’ is a serious piece of rumination, a Buddhist-like realisation of beauty/God coming from within. It’s a nod to Leonard Cohen and Cat Stevens, minor-chord patterns facing off with choral harmonies and swooping string lines. It also is, to put it bluntly, gorgeous, and worth the entry price alone. As the second half of the album begins there’s a couple of Erland Cooper [of prog-folkies Erland and the Carnival] collaborations that don’t quite hit the mark, and the album briefly drifts. Nothing to worry about though: here’s folk royalty Danny Thompson and Martin Carthy to breathe life into the ornate melody of ‘Come Along’, with Peel producing a fine Robert Kirby-style orchestral adjunction to some already heavily emotive moments in sound.

The last section of the album is a full of discovery, too. ‘Books’ adds sitar, Tampoura and Noel Gallagher on, er, pump organ to send us eastwards on a kaleidoscopic journey, whilst ‘Movin On’ has a lovely soaring vocal performance from the main man, who clearly still cares about what he has to deliver. ‘May Love Travel With You’ brings things around again: voice, guitar, and some widescreen Disney orchestration. Weller soundtracking your kids bedtime? Why not, he knows quite a bit about parenting. Closer ‘White Horses’ brings back Cooper, Argent and Gallagher for a finale that seals the deal: a fable about generosity directed at a younger audience, it’s a touching finish to an album that surprises throughout.

It was interesting to hear Weller dismiss last year’s well-received A Kind Revolution as merely “alright” in a recent issue of Mojo. Perhaps he knew how good the follow-up was going to be, and felt a moment of guilt. Maybe he was right though: whilst everyone has a different take on what the best Weller album/period is, True Meanings makes a robust case for being his best since his last 22 Dreams/Wake Up The Nation-era highpoint. Certainly there’s little doubt it will score high in many end of year polls.

Phil Moore

Live photo of Weller/Crofts by David Jackson

 

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Album review: Gerald Claridge

GERALD CLARIDGE Frisson [self-released] Claridge is a prominent face of the Northants folk scene, who has played with many cohorts in many guises over the years. A cursory glance around…

GERALD CLARIDGE
Frisson [self-released]

Claridge is a prominent face of the Northants folk scene, who has played with many cohorts in many guises over the years. A cursory glance around Discogs shows how he once made a folk-rock album way back in 1975 [with Nick Salomon, no less] as Oddsocks, makes reference to a private press solo album from 1990, and shows him as part of Tickled Pink during the noughties. He plays in a professional Ceilidh band as of now, and has seen fit to release another solo album of his own songs.

It is fortunate enough for us that he has recorded and released Frisson, for the Northampton singer has a deft touch with melody and arrangement that has not withered with age. Yes this is a ‘thin’ record [low production values, keyboard strings, some drum machines in place of actual drums] but it matter not a tot when you’re listening in. On Frisson we witness Claridge’s joie de vivre writ large; his folk spirit of bonhomie rising above any restrictions of time and finance. ‘So Far So Good’ sets off on the path of optimism, that continues on ‘Upside Down’, and indeed is rarely deviated from. 

‘Plain Clothes’ pays homage to McCartney-esque melody and guitar-picking, whilst ‘Rainy Day’ shows off his celtic soul/Kevin Rowland lilt to maximum effect. The middle of the album brings some light relief, with the nursery rhyme style of ‘Ten A Penny’, and an oompah ode to drinking and farting in a ‘Hot Tub’! Later still we get a tribute to the Beach Boys [‘Sound Of The Ocean’], which is a very un-Northampton thing to do, so much respect for that, Gerald. Squelching keys and clomping hooves introduce the lounge goodness of ‘Good Night’, and Frisson is completed with an instrumental ‘Wedding March’, hauntingly played on church organ by John Miller.

There’s a nice touch in the CD liner notes where Claridge gives a little explanation of the song, making the project feel intimate, the warm comfort blanket to accompany a glass of whiskey at the end of the day. For folk fans this is a “must investigate”.

Phil Moore

Frisson is out now on CD, available from Spiral Archive and Claridge directly

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Record review: Lew Bear ‘Love Light Dark And Death’

LEW BEAR Love Light Dark and Death [self-released] If there’s one thing that’s important to Daventry-based singer-songwriter Lew Bear, it’s returning to nature as often as he can. So much…

LEW BEAR
Love Light Dark and Death [self-released]

If there’s one thing that’s important to Daventry-based singer-songwriter Lew Bear, it’s returning to nature as often as he can. So much so, in fact, that several of his previous albums have been recorded in fields, or by streams. But now, with fifth album Love Light Dark And Death, he has decided that it’s time to return back to the studio.

Opening track ‘Devil You Know’ introduces the mood of the whole album with bouncing, crisp guitar strumming, while Lew Bear’s warm vocals are not too different to the cosy blanket you wrapped yourself in as a kid.

‘Going Home’ captures summer in a song, with lyrics such as “I won’t be there alone/in my mind/when I’m going home” bringing imagery of sunny days spent with your closest friends, whilst ‘Rumpelstiltskin’ hits upon a darker target. With acoustic guitars that sound foreboding and ominous, the song is eerily reminiscent of ’40s blues.

Songs like ‘The Wanderer’ and ‘Follow The River’ showcase Lew Bear’s jazz-styled vocals in a lower key, making him sound gloomy and encompassing. The guitar riffs also follow suit with simplistic strumming that boosts the singer’s voice to an even more powerful level. ‘Oh Death’, on the other hand, is deep and haunting, with echoing gongs punctuating the first hand story, from death’s point of view, of what happens to us when we reach the end.

‘Return To The Sea’ and ‘The End Is Never Near’ are album’s highlights, with their slow, calming melodies and soft vocals. ‘Return To The Sea’ is, musically, the perfect mixture of acoustic guitar and poetic lyrics, whilst ‘The End Is Never Near’ documents a love story to last for the ages.

Overall, Love Light Dark And Death is an album that couples folk music with a modern twist, resulting in a clear-cut sound that is neither dated nor out of place within the genre. Lew Bear has talent by the bucket load and he isn’t afraid to use it. This record is unique and warm, with a folk-blues sound that fits perfectly for those sunny Sunday afternoons spent in the countryside with the people you love.

Lucy Wenham

Love Light Dark and Death is out now for streaming, download or on CD

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It’s A Shoe In: Northants gig guide Apr 4th – Apr 10th 2018

ADY JOHNSON + WHALE + SKYFLOOD Wednesday April 4th Rooftop Arts Centre, Corby Acoustic night from Kontra Roots, headlined by a Colchester singer-songwriter with rave-reviewed albums and national radio airplay. Support…

ADY JOHNSON + WHALE + SKYFLOOD
Wednesday April 4th
Rooftop Arts Centre, Corby
Acoustic night from Kontra Roots, headlined by a Colchester singer-songwriter with rave-reviewed albums and national radio airplay. Support from Market Harborough trio and local indie/alt-rock openers doing something a bit different from their usual set. Doors 7.30pm, free entry

EX-PETS + GOODNIGHT VENICE
Wednesday April 4th
The King Billy, Northampton
The regular Wednesday night original band night at the Billy: this week with local punks headlining and Bedford rockers also in action. Doors 8.30pm, free entry

CHRIS RONALD TRIO + LAB COLLAB ACOUSTIC
Thursday April 5th
The Lab, Northampton
A special appearance from the Chris Ronald Trio playing folk, all the way from Canada, packaged by the magical Clan Hannigan. Support from familiar faces from The Lab music crowd, but this time stripped bare and playing solo. Doors 7.30pm, donation requested on the door

THE SHARPEEZ
Thursday April 5th
The Black Prince, Northampton
Powerful original R&B from London in a Rory Gallagher/Dr. Feelgood stylee. Doors 8pm, free entry

SISTERAY + KARL PHILLIPS & THE REJECTS + THE MODERN AGE + PEACHES
Friday April 6th
The Black Prince, Northampton
”Butt-kickin’ new punk” say BBC 6 Music, Londoners Sisteray came together out of their shared love for bands such as The Smiths, Velvet Underground, The Clash and The Replacements. Support from well-travelled ShoeTown rap rockers, Corby indie upstarts, and local slacker pop to open proceedings. Expect mayhem of the best variety. Doors 7.30pm, £4.50 advance tickets

WISHING WOLF + LAST CHANCE + BLOOD-VISIONS + THE TOUCH
Friday April 6th
The White Hart, Corby
Road to the Hootenanny gig #1. Free Entry shows across April showcasing the best live original acts in the county, with a crowd vote at the end of the evening to decide who goes through to one final bout on June 22nd with the chance to win the opportunity of playing the main stage at our festival. Doors 8pm

BROOKE SHARKEY + THE BREWERS DAUGHTER + J KELLS
Friday April 6th
The Lab, Northampton
A candle-lit showcase of the warmest, most striking variety, Sharkey is compared with the likes of Kate Bush, Ane Brun and Cat Power. Meanwhile The Brewer’s Daughter are “a perfectly balanced brew of traditional and original folk music, featuring gutsy female vocals, an antique fiddle and a vintage 12-string guitar”. Doors 7pm, £4 on entry /£3 members

IRON BASTARDS + MOLOTOV SOULS
Sunday April 8th
The King Billy Rock Bar, Northampton
Fast rock’n’roll from Strasbourg France, plus metal/punk/ska from Coventry! Doors 4pm, free entry

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