'Sweeping the Nation' new music blog asked me to write a song by song guide of my new album 'Lie Back Think of England'. Here it is:
In the summer of 2011, I took my guitar to Eastern Europe where I spent 10 days working on a farm in Romania, 3 days working on a farm in Ukraine, 10 days at Sziget Festival in Hungary, and 7 days in Berlin. 'Lie Back and Think of England' is the album I have made about my experience.
I recorded the bells sound onto my mobile phone while on a cycle ride high up in the mountains of Transylvania. They were hung around two horses' necks. I added the sound of a piper. The bells kinda slowly pan across the speakers while the piper is constant to create the image of a lone musician on a hill side watching a small procession go past.
I met an English guy called Danny on the farm in Romania and travelled with him to Ukraine to work on a Water Buffalo Farm. He was really passionate about Bears. I found him quite inspirational. He also gave me a book about the importance of finding a passion. I never read it - I kinda felt I didn't need to because I figured Danny probably embodied it's message.
3. Lie Back and Think of England
Being a long way from England gave me a different view of it. Public confidence in the government and the press was reeling from the expenses and phone hacking scandals, and then the riots started while I was away too. England likes to portray itself at the forefront of enlightenment, and in a lot of ways I think it is, but at that time it also showed how stuck in the dark ages it is in some ways too. The female vocal is provided by my friend Sarah Mahony. Was chuffed when John Kennedy played this song on XFM.
4. Distant Star
I met this amazing girl in Ukraine who helped me get to a train station so I could continue my journey. I wrote this song for her. This song was featured on the BBC Introducing Mixtape.
5. Ability Park
I met a girl called Asia on the train into Hungary and I went with her to Sziget Festival in Budapest. While I was there I met lots of people from all over Europe which was really enriching. This instrumental is supposed to represent those glorious hazy wanders from stage to stage at a music festival.
6. Foreign Son
6. Foreign Son
This was actually the first song I wrote when I spent the summer of 2010 in New York. It didn't quite fit with the album borne from that experience (2011's 'Marble Sun'), but it seems to fit on this one. I wrote it in Washington Square and I think it is New York talking to me telling me to man up and enjoy life instead of writing loads of 'cry-wank' music which I had been doing up to then!
7. Her Shoulders
I have a thing about shoulders.
8. Chicago John
Recording live drums can be such a mission so I goofed around for the first time with midi beats on garage band. I recorded 4 or 5 songs which were mostly awful but I couldn't get this one out of my head. I had a bit of a rough year last year and often I couldn't get to sleep. To help me sleep I invented this imaginary, comic-book world of espionage in my head and Chicago John was one of the characters in it. This song was also featured on the BBC Introducing Mixtape and played on 6 Music by Gideon Coe.
9. A Parliament of Owls
Without wanting to sound like a dick I think this track most represents where I am musically in 2013 - lost for words, searching for something new, a little bit devoid of inspiration, stuck in a tunnel. For that reason it works above all others as the final 'full' composition on the record. I am moving out to North America for a few years at the end of July to start new projects and recordings.
10. Follow the River
This short outro is the orchestration from the title track given it's own space as the sun sets on the record. It was a very, very profound experience in Eastern Europe that I am not entirely sure I will ever fully get my head around.
'Lie Back and Think of England' Live:
28/05 - Sticky Mike's Frog Bar, BRIGHTON
02/06 - Foxfest, LONDON
20/07 - Spice of Life, LONDON
27/07 - Redfest, SURREY