Friday, 6 December 2019

Holloway: Field Notes: 1

“There is no such joy in the tavern as upon the road thereto.”
Cormac McCarthy

My latest album 'Carver's Law' is out: doing the rounds.
What next?
Folk often ask me where the songs come from and, to be honest, because I don't do gigs and don't daily revive them, once they are fully formed it seems like they are released and left to make their own way in the world: deserted. It's easy to forget how they were birthed and beached, so I thought that with any new recordings it might be interesting for me to keep notes about that period between conception and birth: the gestation of new material. 
These will be notes that I keep for myself; so that there's a sense of understanding in the way things develop. I wondered if it might be interesting to the listener to read about the process: my process. I can see that I might be lampooning myself here: that some folk like a bit of mystery to come with their music and want to receive it fully formed and final. They don't need to see me humping away at my muse.
I'm not refining the writing so you might want to look away now: it'll be stumblings and mumblings and I might decide that this is a bad idea, but until then...

Holloway: Field Notes: 1

A new album: it's often an idea to start with a title.
'Carver's Law' was initially going to be called 'The Burden of Endless Dreams' after a line lifted from Joe Henry's brilliant 'Our Song'
Joe even gave me permission to use it. 
'The Burden of Endless Dreams' seems apt because, hand in hand with the joy of creation, and the endless possibilities of the blank page, comes the mithering that goes with it: the waking at 3am with a nagging melody or lyric, that rips me from the warmth of bed and Di, in search of a scrap of paper and a pen, or my iPhone's 'Voice Memo'. You'd howl if you heard the hapless humming and howling that often informs a song. I consider 'The Burden of Endless Dreams' and try it out on Di who shakes her head. Too many words apparently. She reminds me of 'Holloway'. Di and I spent an idyllic weekend at Roger Deakin's Walnut Tree Farm, living in one of his outhouses, an old railway carriage spruced up for pilgrims. We immersed ourselves in his world of wood and words, threatening to swim in his moat. Deakin's writing reminds me to finish a book that's been sitting unfinished for too long. I'd been reading Robert McFarland's 'The Wild Places'. They were mates: co-adventurers. There's a chapter, 'Holloway' in which McFarland (accompanied by Deakin)  explores ancient, deep sunken paths and marvels at how, once you are within these 'holloways', you feel cocooned, protected, and by adjusting your vista, your view on and of the world changes, offering a different kind of clarity. I like the idea that these 'ancient arteries' might lead to an alternative way of seeing and perhaps lead to uncharted destinations.
'Holloway' it is for now then...
Looking for inspiration for new songs.
What has happened this year of note?

My annual Thanksgiving fortnight in Walberswick always acts as stimulant: away from London I can de-frag, reset and re-consider my belly button. 

After the dramas of my detached retina in 2018 came the recovery and then, with the subsequent cataract, another operation. As 2019 hurtles towards 2020 Di jokes about it being the year that she will have her eyes lasered to redeem her vision to 20/20. Getit? We chuckled but it got me thinking: the past couple of years have seen me re-calibrating, adjusting to my new world view. I’ve lost the ability to cut a squash ball out of mid-air but have gained an ability to gaze vaguely. I'm surprised to find that I often see more that way. Sometimes an eye can be too... keen. Between long sight to short lies the in-betweens. It is easier to see the ‘long and the short’ of things. My eyes are working independantly and my sight-lines have thus been altered to accommodate both: my surgeon calls this 'mono-vision' and advises that only about 30% can adapt and adopt it successfully. I fear that I'm with the other 70%; my mono-vision a netherland of vagueness which passes as both long and short focus; it's a compromise of clarity. This change of focus from horizon, to hedge, to home has also led to an interesting development of my haptic memory: with me reaching more readily for touchstones.
Apparently my left eye was dominant. After my injured right eye was 'fixed' it asserted itself as prime orbit. It feels like my repaired eye is re-trained, memory avidly joins the dots, I’m finding new ways of connecting things. What are these ‘things’? I’m unsure, but am convinced that it is leading me towards a new way of seeing and thinking, and hopefully will help me mine a fresh lode of songs. Perhaps, as with any loss, what’s residual is somehow enhanced; distilled and filtered into something somehow more refined or pure? Let’s hope that this attempt at positive thinking somehow sublimates these stumbling, fumbling rants. 
As the year is ending I'm sitting here with two lines:

Black crows applaud the sky
And I wake from my dream of spring

Ah well, it's a start.
Here's to 2019.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Shack Tales: Nov 28, 2019

I woke up this morning to find that the River Blyth that borders The Studio to the north had flooded causing the River Dunwich 50 yards to the east of my front porch to swell and overflow up and over Wally's Bridge, effectively rendering my dwelling an island. I considered that my old Porsche might float away, but then remembered that it had been valued by Marcus at £2,100 on and put the kettle on.
I got quite excited by the idea of an even more acute seclusion. Ever-keen on irony it made me reach for Roger Deakin's 'Waterlog'. Our maverick travels Britain in search of Wild Swimming and, in doing so, immerses himself in fresh environments daily. In exercising his 'right to roam' he encounters many a beatific bank and its inhabitants. Most are either welcoming or indifferent to him. Some (mostly human) move him on. A well mannered and eccentric rebel, part of Deakin's charm is the way that he attempts to inhabit the waters that he visits: he regresses to an almost feral state to better understand the mystery of what a daily dunking does for his mental health.

“I grew convinced that following water, flowing with it, would be a way of getting under the skin of things. Of learning something new. I might learn about myself too.”

He notes diving in with a long face and emerging 'a whistling idiot'. This quest for cure and liberation
got me thinking about why I love the place that's been home for the past fortnight. And why I keep returning. It's got nowt to do with any sense of travel: quite the opposite: Walberswick lies at the end of a road. That road cul-de-sacs in the car park that borders The Studio to the south. I am the most Northern and Easterly dwelling in the village. You have to want to be here to get here. This elemental sense of separation and seclusion is a thrill to me. It feels like a destination. I arrive. I unpack. I'm home. On fine days it forces me out to wander: on foul days it holds me within to wonder.

“Most of us live in a world where more and more things are signposted, labelled, and officially ‘interpreted’. There is something about all this that is turning the reality of things into virtual reality. It is the reason why walking, cycling and swimming will always be subversive activities. They allow us to regain a sense of what is old and wild in these islands, by getting off the beaten track and breaking free of the official version of things.”

That's it!
Here I am offered submersion and subversion.
I work in an environment where order is everything; the 'official version' abides. It's the law. I understand that particular need for order: that need for protection. However, the requirement to protect can become so enveloping that 'safeguarding' becomes an exacted requirement rather than an instinctive embrace. It can stifle and squeeze the joy out of things for both the protector and the protected. We furnish our environments harmless and risk rendering them charmless. We don't climb trees. We don't leap fences. We don't swim dark rivers. We become resistant to the draw of wild places, where discomfort not only thrills us, but teaches us. I wouldn't wish discomfort on anyone, but we couldn't survive without it.

And yet... here I am, comfy by the fire, part Ratty, part Mole, part Crusoe feeling a genuine ache at the thought of leaving tomorrow. We are often attracted to things, people and places that bare characteristics of the things that we could never be. I think of that misfit Jack London's description of himself as ' a sailor on horseback'. My addiction to this haven is that its authenticity is everything that I am not: it does not become me, and yet, somehow, it's a perfect fit.
T.S. Eloit famously noted:

“We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring. Will be to arrive where we started. And know the place for the first time."

Perhaps the all embracing, immersive warmth of this sanctuary makes it feel that, although it rests riverside and seaside, on the edge of adventure, it also cocoons and offers homely comfort. Deakin observes that we are 'beached at birth'. Mum's the word but maybe it is no co-incidence that in reserving this fortnight at The Studio annually, I'll forever be here on my birthday. Perhaps as we get older, we feel the elemental need for returning.
Maybe it's not that all roads lead to Rome, but that still waters lead to home.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Lovesong: Joe Henry: Bloom

So much darkness, and yet so much light.

A release from Joe Henry is always worth celebrating.
Joe has kindly and thoughtfully planned to release his latest album on November 15, the day before my 60th birthday.
I shall be gifting myself the double vinyl.
The rest of you can just send cards...
The background to the recording?
I'll let Joe explain: see below.
Bottom line: I'm always amazed by the human spirit: the letters written by folk in slow mo' plane crashes: the breathless 911 phone calls: thoughts directed outwardly, at beloveds rather than inwards towards 'self'.
Faced with their own mortality folk always speak of 'love'.

The idea that Joe's instinctive reaction upon hearing that he had a life threatening illness was... to make music.
To communicate.
To 'pass it on'.
And love?
As Joe says, he remains "in love with life, even when that life founders and threatens to disappear; lustfully aglow, not in spite of storm but because of one. Come November, then, I will hand this all over —while the sky is bright, and leaves are still turning and descending —the days listing as they grow brisk and shorter."

Fascinating that the first taster from the album, 'Bloom', even in autumn, particularly in autumn, is concerned with regeneration.

I like Joe Henry: how could you not?


Announcing a new album: The Gospel According To Water

"Come 15 November, I will be releasing a new album —my 15th studio offering as a solo act.
The album is called The Gospel According To Water. It was recorded over two days this past June —and fairly blind-sided me, when I thought I was merely making reference demos of thirteen new songs ahead of forgetting them. All but two of these songs were written between Valentines and Fathers Days; all having flowered from the black earth of recent experience —namely a cancer diagnosis late last fall that left me reeling —though, as well, set into motion many wild blessings and positive shifts in my life, along with an unprecedented songwriting flurry.

With only a handful of friends playing in support, I entered the studio and tore through these songs with determination and joyful abandon, then went home. I had let nothing clutter or distract me from their essential and true heart; and upon waking the morning after, I understood that something significantly more had transpired —that the songs as articulated had sparked an ember that somehow remained bright and alive before me, moving beyond my expectations.

I unexpectedly heard the songs as complete, and vividly so; and knew that the casual circumstances had not limited my expression but in fact liberated me from the cloying aim for posterity that can make weighty any session, and landed me instead in a place both unencumbered by the past and unattached to futures.

Though they have all grown out of darkness, I don’t believe any of these songs themselves to be “dark” in nature, nor about the circumstance that prompted their discovery. In them, I hear the re-accessing of my imagination and its greater invitation; hear deep gratitude, and a compassion toward self that I don’t always possess; an optimism I did not know I’d allowed to flourish.

These recordings are raw and wirey and spare because the songs insisted they be. But I believe them to be as wholly realized —as “produced” as anything I’ve touched, as well as being deeply and fundamentally romantic: in love with life, even when that life founders and threatens to disappear; lustfully aglow, not in spite of storm but because of one.

Come November, then, I will hand this all over —while the sky is bright, and leaves are still turning and descending —the days listing as they grow brisk and shorter.

Just in time for Thanksgiving."

Joe Henry

Pasadena, CA

Friday, 11 October 2019

Lovesong: Elbow: 'Giants of All Sizes': XXL Heart: XXS Hope.

Just in case you miss it: Elbow have a new album out today.
I'm on the second play and, like an ill fitting jigsaw puzzle, it's starting to fall into place, in all of its dislocated, discordant glory. In fact ‘Dislocated Elbow’ just about sums things up.
It is not an easy listen. It speaks of the unsettled days that we've been lumped with by the mismanagement of our hectoring 'leaders': the permeating sense of brow-beaten unease a reflection of that uncertainty. 'Brexit Blues' would be too pat a title. Perhaps 'A Helpless Hymn agin Hubris' would be better. Garvey's downsized world view is delivered with his usual 'everyman' compassion, but an edgy sense of abandonment makes it feel less the usual matey chat. As you press 'replay' (and you will) it feels like you're doing so in an attempt to talk your defeated mate off the ledge.
The cover tells us as much. 
'Together Alone' would be the perfect title, but that's taken. The sense of isolation is palpable throughout. Christ, Garvey's first words nail his estrangement to the cross: "I don't know Jesus anymore."
Not a happy album then; there are no easy anthems, the moments of light make the darkness more acute, but, like Nick Cave's new masterpiece 'Ghosteen', the accumulative effect is devastating.

Friday, 6 September 2019

Lovesong: Boo Hewerdine: Before

When I first started making music with other people, I had influences. All budding musicians do. It's how we find our way. In the mid 80s it seemed that everybody around me wanted to sound like, and be, The Velvet Underground. Beyond the, easy to replicate, slack jawed looseness of the application, it was de rigueur to effect their knowing, louche indifference. Not for me. I wasn't rakish. I wasn't knowing. That much I knew. The sonic template for early days Miracle Mile was a modest combo from the Eastlands. The Bible wore jumpers. Their winsome, bucolic pop was light but lovely. They had fair to middling success in the 80s with a song called 'Graceland' that I couldn't stop listening to. The singer looked as uncomfortable as I felt. And yet... he sang his deceptively simple songs with a detached indifference that was strangely compelling. Like a rabbit in a headlight, he seemed surprised to have an audience, his expression almost begging the attendant not to stare, to avoid eye contact and to keep on moving. Boo was mesmerizing then and, for me, 30 years on, he remains so.

I put his new album on this morning. 'Before'. It is lovely, light and slight: only 32 minutes. As it unfolded I realized what it is about his music that I find so compelling: it is absolutely bereft of cynicism. That's not to say it isn't knowing. Boo's bespectacled stare still falls on his subjects with that familiar wide eyed indifference (that word again). And, as I listened, it struck me: it wasn't 'indifference': it was a child-like wonder of the world. One that doesn't pass judgement. One that doesn't pass on. One that lingers on the little things. No rabbit in headlights then: more like an infant under a quilt with a torch, who has just discovered his toes. Does that make sense? I'm painting Boo as some kind of naive savant and I don't mean to. I know him and recognize him: his quirks, his 'Booness'. Boo is a man that you cannot help but love because of his seeming indifference to all things adult. Again, that sounds patronizing. How can I fix that? Boo once gave me some advice. I was resisting a challenge. "What's the worst that can happen?" he opined. Not the most original counsel. And yet coming from Boo it resonated with an authentic honesty: a duty of... care that stopped me in my tracks and made me disassemble the potentially hackneyed words. And I found truth therein.
Boo's is a world of first things.
Of in-betweens.
Of last things.
"We see true beauty in the last rays of the sun."
Yes: really!

Boo's eye always seems to settle on the pretty things. He dismantles the wonder of their delicacy in his funny, detached, wise way. And then he puts them back together and calls them 'a song'. And in that way, in his reconstructions of the world, he makes the world his. Makes it fit. Makes it a Booland. And it breaks your heart. Because you want to live there and you can't.

As I listened this morning, before the rigors of the day, I was reminded of nursery rhymes and fairy tales; Arthur Ransome and James Matthew Barrie; Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and of my brother and sisters and parents. At that point things got messy and I had to go and make myself a very adult coffee.
I need to stop blathering and play 'Before' again: before I start my grown up work and before the caffeine kicks in. Boo's wide eyed stare rests on the things that matter: the everyday mundane matter that informs our daily lives. The stuff that we mostly pass over. That's why Boo matters to me. Take a minute (or 32) to listen to his new record. It'll make your day different. It will make your day. It'll make you want to live in Booland: a world of wonder where the price of admission is an open heart and an open mind. Be warned: you'll have to check your cynicism in at the door. 
Let's call it 'Graceland'.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Starwatching: An Unofficially Official Celebration of Miracle Mile: 1: Stepping into the Flow.

Back in 2014 Di and I were at a gig at The Borderline just off Tottenham Court Road. We'd gone to see Case Hardin supporting Jason McNiff and Wizz Jones. Di was taking photos and I was propping up the bar. Wizz and Jason were great. I particularly liked Case Hardin, Pete Gow and Jim Maving were like a thinking man's Keef and Mick.
The next day I got a message through Miracle Mile's website asking me if that was me, really me, at The Borderline the previous night. It came from a gent named Paul Woodgate who was there to review the gig for Folk Radio. It turned out that Paul was a long time follower of my band, Miracle Mile and had recognised me from the various cover shots. It's nice to be noticed. We chatted on the phone and eventually met up. Paul and I have since become good mates: gig buddies if you will. Paul ('Egg' to his inner circle) has often talked about giving up his 'proper job' to commit his full attention to his two passions: music and writing. Those who know his writing keep pushing him towards it, he does have a singular style and a beautifully lyrical touch. His enthusiasm is addictive. It's particularly flattering when you are the object of his affection. So... I'm chuffed to discover that he's been beavering away on a website that promotes the music that Marcus Cliffe and I produce as Miracle Mile and 'Jones'. It's a work in progress and a labour of love that wobbled me a bit when I read Egg's first post. It's a bit like Busby Berkeley choreographing a school musical, Matt Busby managing the Beaconsfield Utd under 11's or Paul Auster reviewing Readers Digest pamphlet 387. I'm a little overwhelmed and humbled by his bon mots. Marcus and I have put a lot of love and labour into what has become our back catalogue. It's this kind of surprise that all too occasionally justifies the graft. It is gladdening that such a talented writer has chosen to cast and settle his gaze upon us.
Read this and weep.
I did.
God bless you Egg: long may you pun...
Please click on the link below to access the 'Starwatching' site.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Eurovision 2019: Madumma

It's like doing community service: we're sentenced to 4 hours annually, guilty of the misdemeanor of the watching the previous year. Those in the know tell me that it's a bit like child birth: it takes 3 months to forget the excruciating pain and 9 months to prepare for the next one. Why are we compelled, every 12 months, to press our noses to the screen? Perhaps in the hope that there'll be another ABBA moment. And the best thing on last night's was indeed an ABBA moment: a 'Mentalist' who somehow managed to encourage 3 fellow inmates to write 1974, 45, and Abba on 3 separate cards. This highpoint (yup) was a sad reminder that it is indeed 45 years since that benchmark Abba performance. Last night was the usual parade of pathetiques: a gallery of gurning, disco dirge, hysteria and faux emotion. Oh, and a bit of Icelandic 'death metal' to add some street cred' and remind us that it's cold up north and they don't give a stuff... This was a freak show presented by freaks. It was 'spectacular' but it was also dazzlingly dumb.
'Could you do any better?' I hear you say.
Not bloody likely: not in this particular field.
Why would you want to?
In this particular field there's always something unpleasant that you might stand in.
Why do they do it?
It must take half a career to recover.

Sorry to be unkind but the unrelenting pop eyed desperation of the burlesque was so squirmingly unsettling. I stuck around for Madonna. Her much anticipated turn was to feature after Bloated Bjork and before Rigged Result. There would surely be a MADGE moment? A new direction that allowed for her dodgy hip, conjunctivitis and failing vibrato. Might she even drop the F BOMB' to further unravel the unravelling presenters? Nope. Madge covered all Euro cultural bases by dressing up like a pirate auditioning for 'Game of Thrones'. With straight laced sincerity she told our bizarre gathering that they were 'all winners' because they'd bothered to turn up. I assumed that made me a 'winner' too so I stuck with it... Strewth! To give her performance integrity and sonorous meaning Madge was surrounded by monks chanting her name. At least they pronounced it properly and chanted in tune. There are always chanting monks with Madge. Why the fixation? Perhaps they are meant to suggest a quasi-religious erotic experience? They merely contributed to the slight whiff of dry crutched celibacy. Madonna's car crash performance will surely haunt her until... the next one. This 'special' staging and performance had been kept 'under wraps' but was more like an embalming. Whose idea was it to force The Queen of Pop to shuffle down, then stumble back up an infinite flight of stairs? Surely the budget could have stretched to a Stannah Stairlift? Poor gal. Someone should've rung Age Concern. Our Madge then suffered the ultimate ignominy of having her flatness fed though an Auto Tune turned up to 11, reducing her to a poor man/woman's Sparky/Cher as she duetted with a similarly encumbered bloke who looked like he'd shuffled in from a different audition: one that also involved pirates but Avengers, Captain America and vintage motorbikes too. Ms Ciccone then 'symbolically' slapped around a couple of vestal virgin's wearing fox's heads. Isn't that banned in Europe? This was horrible: a macabre blood sport of sorts. Horrible. Perhaps Brexit could be accompanied by a lifetime UK Eurovision ban? 30 years would do for me. Horrible. Horrible. Horrible. Graham Norton gave up taking the p*ss. Even Wogan would've been struck dumb.
And yet we watched on.
I found myself rooting for the shrill Gob on a Stick that was Australia.
The voting would at least offer the inevitable coup de grace to the over ambitious wannabe. There'd surely be the fetid, frowsty odour of crumbling coalition and conspiracy. Greece would vote for Cyprus, Sweden would shamelessly vote for Norway and no-one would vote for the shameful UK. It pretty much panned out. Sweden's John Lundvik looked like a stick on winner but stumbled at the last fence: stitched up by the public vote. There was excruciating schadenfreude as, in cruel close up, Lundvik's expectant victory 'high 5' became a limp wrist. I don't know the name of The Netherland's winning wailer. Let's call him 'Bloke'. It had taken 4 hours of spinning midgets and flashing light warnings to deem the least dressed up singer the winner: Bloke was a triple denim 'delight'. At least he had the decency to be dull: the most moving thing about Bloke's performance was the piano... So, after months of auditions, rejections, rehearsals, the filtering and thinning of talent, the grooming of delights: this was the best that Europe had to offer us: a Coldplayesque whinge dedicated to a giant bulb. 

Maybe Bloke was in on some secret joke? 
Maybe Bloke was looking for a lightbulb moment. 
Or his own reflection. 
Judging from his knotted eyebrows I think he found neither.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Carver's Law: 5: Drinking Alone

Here is the latest in a series of films made by the Slovenian artist Matej Kolmanko in support of Carver's Law. For me, the fascinating thing about this collaboration is that I have no control over the outcome: unusual for someone who likes to have his hands set firmly on the wheel. 
The content of this particular film is undeniably provocative and unsettling: not something that you'd usually connect with my music. It is interesting that Matej homed in on the notion of transience: something that colors many of the songs on Carver's Law. Matej offers us a children's birthday party and his own Granny's 80th celebration. And a decaying pig. Two parties and a pig then... The central image might unsettle a few folk but I think that it acts as a stark reminder that, however willful and spirited we are, flesh is weak, decline is inevitable. I wrote 'Drinking Alone' with Australian writer David Bridie. It's the first track on the album: a song that sets up the journey and it is echoed by the final song, another Bridie co-write, 'Woebegone'. 
I find Matej's film oddly moving: grossly engrossing. The eye is unsettled; flits from image to image. Youth, decay, old age. We celebrate the passing of time and yet we often deny and reject the effects of the yearly transition. Every journey leads to a 'home' of sorts: that ultimate destination. As such, the recognition of death is a celebration of life. There are reoccurring themes in the songs on Carver's Law: transience, hope, remembrance, the filtering of memories, the settling of scores, forgiveness, aging and (yup) decay, so the decomposing pig, although unpalatable, is apt; a stark reminder of the inevitabilities: and we all kick against those: ever hopeful that a quick jog and a smoothie will conquer all. We try to hold back the years with lotions and potions but it's hopeless: that 'hoping of hope'. And, as we know, it's the hope that'll kill you. We are not stardust. We are not starlight. We are not golden. We are olden. But is this delusion the secret to a happy life? I reckon not. It's a cover up. We age. We cover it up. We die. We cover it up. We bury the body deep. It would be glib to simply say that we should celebrate decline. Any nurse or carer will remind us of that. We all watch our loved ones slip off the planet. Why look away? I reckon that it's vital to recognize the passing. Facing it square on is a celebration of sorts: however hopeless the prognosis. And hope? Our best hope is for some kind of legacy; that signs of our own life endure: markings on a wall to remind folk that 'I was here'. St Augustine wrote that “it is only in the face of death that man’s self is born.” And Montaigne posited that “although the physicality of death destroys us, the idea of death saves us.” Woody Allen added to the party: "My relationship with death remains the same. I am very strongly against it." 
I'm with Woody... 

Song: 'Drinking Alone'
Writers: Trevor Jones/David Bridie
Album: Carver's Law (2019)
Film Director and Editor: Matej Kolmanko
Time lapse footage taken from "Decomposition of Baby Pigs" by Jerry Payne (1965).

Friday, 3 May 2019

Carver's Law: 4: The Press Release

Starting to move towards the release of 'Carver's Law' on July 12th. We have the much respected promotor Jim Soars on board to help present the album to the various dailies/weeklies/monthlies. I think that he'll be working the radio stations too. Work starts 3 months in advance as the monthly magazines such as 'Uncut', 'R2' and 'Mojo' require that much time for 'the turnaround'. It's interesting how things have moved on since 2016's 'Happy Blue'. Many journalists don't require CDs anymore; just a download link. I struggle with this for a couple of reasons: firstly the CD will be of much better audio quality than the compressed MP3 that it'll be judged on: secondly, for me the artwork has always been a vital part of the presentation: the tactile element of any release seems to have disappeared into the ether. Frustrating, considering the amount of thought and, yup, artistry that we put into 'hard copy'. This surely undermines the carefully considered work of our cover designer/artist Barry Cross. The artwork for 'Carver's Law' is just lovely: it's a shame that those who require but a link won't get to thumb the shiny pages and perhaps consider the text and lyrics. Same shame too for those who download rather than acquire the CD. It would look great on vinyl: maybe later...
Interesting that the knock on is that we are also no longer required to send a physical press release. This now goes out as an email attachment rather than a glossy sheet of card.
Here it is for you to ponder: lovely words of encouragement by writer Paul Woodgate: lovingly designed by Barry Cross. Here: reach out and touch the screen...

Friday, 26 April 2019

Carver's Law: 3: Every Dream a Shadow

Here is another short film from my collaboration with Slovenian film maker Matej Kolmanko.
Marcus Cliffe provided the lush musical backdrop to this offering: 'Every Dream a Shadow': a spoken piece taken from my new album 'Carver's Law'.

Every Dream a Shadow

First thought is the best, got to get things done
You only have to say it, that’s how the tale is spun
But there are seven rivers and there are seven seas
And there are seven choices, what to be, oh what to be?

Contentment, inertia, cold coffee in my dish
Forgotten voices whisper, what is it that you wish?
A fishing rod with glories, a red kite with a tale
A long scar with a story, a better way with a nail?

Once the rain had left us, every shadow held a dream
Every dream a shadow, said and seen, said and seen
Someday when cheeks are sunken and teeth taste old and rotten
I hope I will remember that all is not forgotten

Treasure House is where we live
Where what you get is what you give
When all our rivers flow to one
Said and done, said and done

Come and see the shapes above you
Come and have your heart uplifted
See the faces that have loved you
Look away, the shapes have shifted

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Carver's Law: 2: Woebegone

I'm excited to say that I've been collaborating with Slovenian film maker Matej Kolmanko who has provided some amazing visuals for my new album 'Carver's Law'. I was connected with Matej by Australian songwriter David Bridie. Matej provided some films for David's wonderful latest album, 'The Wisdom Line'. I've been a long time admirer of David's music and I'm happy to report that he and I co-wrote this song, 'Woebegone'. It's one of four such collaborations on the album.
Matej's work is edgy, challenging and, as you can see, quite stunning. This is a new media for me: I'm hoping that it will add new elements to my music and perhaps bring new friends to the table. What's interesting for me is how visuals add something intangible to the music. It's hard for me to articulate how unsettling that was initially. I'm a bit of a control freak when it comes to my music, so to see someone else's take was quite a thing. On second view there came a liberation that I loved: I found that I could watch objectively and not try and make my observations too literal. Artistic license is everything here and, with this collaboration, Matej had free rein to do what he felt right: his interpretation is primary: mine very definitely secondary.
Thanks to Matej and David.
It's interesting how we've been drawn together. 
If I had to describe Matej's work I would say 'bleakly bold and beautiful'.
I'd extend that to David's work too.
I hope that doesn't offend them. 
It's very much a compliment.
It's how I'd love my work to be described. 
We seem perfectly matched...
I hope that you enjoy what we've done.
As with any 'art-form' it's ultimately up to you: make of this what you will.

Sunday, 7 April 2019


Well, I reckon that most folk would point to their parents. Yup, they f*ck you up as prescribed and described by Larkin, but their touch is indelible.
Betty's just been and gone back up north. I reckon that I get the hair and the stare from her. But it was my Dad who informed and initiated a lot of my musical habits. He loved a melancholic lift did Terry. He reckoned that Hoagy Carmichael's 'Stardust' was the most perfect melody in modern popular music, was strangely stirred to tears by the trombone solo in Frank's 'I've Got you under My Skin', got me swooning to the sweet lyricism of 'Moon River' and 'Danny Boy'. He sat me in front of the big speakers and explained the importance of 'The Protest Song', always starting and ending with Paul Robeson's 'Old Man River'. He made me fall in love with Bobbie Gentry and Dusty Springfield, insisted that Nat King Cole's was the most gorgeous of voices whilst recognising that Sinatra was the greatest all rounder, only just pipping his Dad Joshua's favourite: Tony Bennett. He rated 'Wichita Lineman' as a stone cold classic. He introduced me to the trad jazz of Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong and knew every lyric to every Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel hit. He nearly (but not
quite) hit all of the high notes when he sang along. That was the downside. Dad's tenor was almost as strangulated as Harry Secombe's: another hero.
He didn't much like the music that I listened to: I tried to impress him: likely too hard. He knew what he liked did Terry: let's call him a pedantic romantic. He wasn't that impressed by the music I wrote either: a compliment was as rare as hug, but it didn't stop me from trying. That was an affirmation that I only got on the rugby pitch.
This morning I'm playing the playlist that I made for his wake and... it's ringing all of the bells.
Have a listen if you like:…/1127459430/playlist/1StLZZ8Yipvs…
But... the one that rang the biggest bell this morning was this. Likely because it's the only one that El Tel couldn't sing along to but, lordy, what a beltingly emotive tune.
Thanks Pater: see you later.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Carver's Law: 1

My new album Carver's Law will be released on July 12th.
It's a way away I know but there is work to be done in preparation. Once the actual albums are back from the production plant the release is 3 months away. This is because we have to supply promo's to press for review and the monthlies require a 3 month 'heads up'. A little frustrating as I'm always keen to get a new collection of songs heard whilst the songs still resonate.
With that in mind (don't tell my distributor) I'll be making the album available from my Bandcamp site as soon as I have copies to sell. CD only this time.
The benefit of this to me is that I get 100% of the purchase fee. I also get to find out now what you think of Carver's Law. You'd perhaps be surprised to know how important that is to me. I'm hoping for a little word of mouth to get the dominos a tumbling.

Marcus Cliffe, as ever, co-produced, engineered and oversaw.
Besides from Marcus's massive musical input, the album's main musical color comes from Pedal Steel legend B. J. Cole and Danish multi-instrumentalist, Gustaf Ljunggren whose woodwind breathes a very particular life into the songs.

There's other collaboration here too:

I wrote 'Morning Pockets' with the wonderful Boo Hewerdine, a man whose work I have long admired.

I also got to work with another longtime influence, Australian songwriter David Bridie. David offered up four musical vignettes that I gave lyrics and melody to.

Barry Cross did another brilliant job with the album's artwork.

Di Holmes took the photo for the album's cover.

Peter Beckmann worked his usual magic at the Mastering stage.

Matej Kolmanko, a Slovenian Auteur and musician, is working on some short films to support the release. I'm excited about this collaboration as we've never used this media before. Matej's work is fabulous: edgy and challenging, his interpretations of the songs will surely add some meat to the bones. I'll be hosting the films here and also on the various promotional platforms.

Paul Woodgate is a fabulous writer who has written the press release.
You can read this below.

Carver's Law by Jones

Avail yourself of a quality malt and an hour of me-time; 2019 marks the return of Jones with his fifth solo album, Carver's Law. The result of soul-searching on the Suffolk coast and collaborations with Boo Hewerdine and David Bridie, Carver's Law is another offering of classic songwriting from an artist who breathes the rarefied air of the unsung hero. Cut Jones and he bleeds quality.

What do we want from an artist? Are they duty bound to inform, educate, entertain? Do they dissemble, put words into the mouths of fictional characters that shoulder their creator’s burden, or is the contract approved with read-between-the-lines clauses that swap comfort zones for the twilight variety, the uncertain half-light where you trust images in the corner of your eye more than those you can stare at? Should they hollow themselves out for us, such that we spend hours listening to their pain as it circles our turntable?

In truth, we demand all of this and more. When we get it, it can be beyond anything we dared hope for and hope, like need, is a dangerous master. Carver's Law is such a record, a long-player of profound beauty, where words twist and tumble like the first leaves of Autumn, coming to rest amongst layers of effortless melody like weary travellers. Here are acutely observed vignettes on life, death and everything that matters in-between. The anticipation of hope, the shadow of fear, doubt and self-analysis, and the slow slow, quick quick slow passing of time. A nervous energy frames these songs, one born of hard won knowledge and experience. The ability to articulate our deepest sorrows, desires, happiness and heartbreaks is a gift. Carver's Law is shot through with spirits bottled and biographical, often half full, always haunted, never less than 100’ proof.

Drink up; time is short and the water is rising.

Paul Woodgate

As one half of Miracle Mile, Trevor ‘Jones’ released nine albums of beautiful, literate pop music, the last of which, In Cassidy’s Care, was issued in 2012. He’s a master songwriter, the type that worries beauty into shapes and sounds that unfurl with repeated listening. Together with musical partner and arranger Marcus Cliffe they collected a bouquet of critical acclaim that continues to flower in Jones’ solo career. Carver's Law is his fifth solo outing, though Cliffe is never far away, helping to produce, record, arrange and play on every one; Hopeland (2009); Keepers (2010); To The Bone (2014) and Happy Blue (2016). Like King Arthur under his hill, Jones waits patiently for the public to recognise what some of us knew from the start. In the meantime, we have this wonderful collection and an opportunity to share it.

‘Gentle enchantment. The loveliest melodies you've ever heard.’  Uncut

‘Intellectually as well as emotionally engaging.’  MOJO

‘Meticulously orchestrated, careful and complex, this is canny songwriting leavened by bona fide humanity.’  Q

‘Masterpieces of subtlety and observation clothed in sumptuous, lush melodies.’  R2

‘Gorgeous, as ever. Trevor Jones finds the poetry in real life; gently beautiful and genuinely moving. You may cry.’  The Sunday Times

‘Classic pop songwriting, gorgeously realised. Jones has compiled possibly the finest catalogue of adult pop. Gently beautiful and genuinely moving.’  The Times

‘Jones is in a class of one. Near-perfect explorations of the human heart. The beauty on offer here is enough to make you weep. It did me.’  Americana UK

‘Achingly tender.’  Folk Radio UK

Moves you to tears and refreshes the soul. Scintillating.’  Maverick