Playlist Updates: a very folky feeling
I'm listening to music for at least 60% of my day. Whether at work, on a ramble or just chilling with a doodle, I'm usually found with a pair of headphones on. Music is my thing. I love food, especially good food which nourishes my body, but music nourishes my soul. It has absolute control over my heartbeat, causes me to smile and make inappropriate faces of enjoyment in public and it often challenges my mind.
Here are the main grooves in my life from the last few weeks. Let me just warn you that this is a very small segment of what I've been listening to. Let's press play on what's turned out to be a very, very folky October.
1. Hozier- To be Alone
The debut album dropped at the beginning of the month and is sitting pretty on top of the UK, American and Irish charts, so you probably know about Hozier already. Anyone who has been within a mile of me over the past few weeks DEFINITELY knows about Hozier, mainly due to my slight obsession with this rather tall, rather beautiful, Irishman.
It is a combination of things that make Hozier a stand out on my playlist at the moment. Yes the beard, brown hair, guitar combo has its part to play, but it is more about the soul of the music. His vocal range is impressive and combines with his Poe-esque lyrical imagery to form an album that lilts from blues to folk via gospel soul easier than an Irish stereotype going from pub to pub.
Hozier is going to be (already is...) big, whatever that means to you, but his music and passion feels wholly personal. It feels like he's taken a look at you, feels the same, and has written about it. It doesn't matter that his hit 'Take me to Church' is featured on Hollywood blockbuster trailers, or that it is used for the new Beats advert. He is singing to you, for you, and he means it.
The album (which was the first album release marked on my calender in a while) is very long and diverse. I enjoyed it but the magic of Hozier for me is the rawness his music can bring across. I feel the album is almost too well produced and has lost a little bit of that "we're just chilling in the woods, let me play you a song" vibe. Take a listen to the aptly named 'To be Alone'. The album version is good, but the live version of him and his guitar feels much more poignant. To be alone indeed.
2. Christof- Carousel
I was lucky enough to catch this performer at a very intimate Bear's Den gig in Notting Hill this month. The setting was an old theatre and the crowd consisted mainly of friends, long term fans and the bands' family.
As the room began to fill up with bodies and chatter, the roadie came on stage and began to tune up and amend gear as usual. Then out of nowhere- he burst into song!
There is a lot to be said for the simple satisfaction Christof's music brings. From folky beginnings through to Dylan inspired moments, this one man show held the room and received the most hearty applause I've ever come across for a guitar tech. Every attention was captured by his voice which was honest, sincere and very easy listening.
It transpires that Christof is Dutch (my heart swoons) and has been living in Ireland over the past summer (my heart swooneth some more). His music distils summer days filled with the small things that make you happy and he dispenses this elixir of sweet simplicity over humble melodies. His lyrics capture golden moments with clarity, zooming in on the minute details which you miss if you go to fast. It makes you pause and take note, inspires you to listen to every strum and enjoy the experience for what it is. It is not groundbreaking and it is not particularly new, but it is good. In a world of too much, Christof's music is just enough.
With the deluge of content that technology, social and the web brings, Christof strips it back to simpler times and is louder in his humble enjoyment of music than many artists out there. I think this is a chap worth watching.
3. John Fairhurst- Breakdown
I had initially planned to be attending Iceland's Airwaves festival in November, but poor organisation and poorer finances put an end to that plan. Instead I am going to the Nightmare festival in Camden. At £20 a ticket, this one day festival is located in apart of London that featured heavily in my goth years. Yes I was a goth. Yes I have pictures. No, you're not seeing them. Ever. I am looking forward to discovering some new music as the line up is fairly niche to say the least. There's a lot of angst and a lot of grungy (still practising in dad's garage) vibes floating about.
And then there is John Fairhurst.
For something that could initially sound like Captain Beefheart's second coming, this guy is fresh. The riffs, the attitude, the voice all add up to music which is nauseating in its brilliance.
The USP for this guy is his voice. It is so damn low I suspect that I'm missing out on frequencies only available to elephants, but what I do hear puts a ridiculous derpy grin on my face wherever I am. It is so groovy I can't sit still. I've been driving my colleagues crazy as I'm possessed by riffs that should be packaged up and sold next to the sweetest bourbon and the roughest smokes.
His older stuff sounds like John Butler's Ocean eloped with Led Zeppelin's Bron Y Stomp and his newer stuff is so damn bluesy I risk a nose bleed every time I listen. The album 'Saltwater' was released this month and is consistently in the same blue vein as the single "Breakdown". The highlight for me is the (possibly biographical?!) title track which documents the life and times of a modern day wandering outlaw. You can't help but root for the anti hero which pretty much sums my relationship up with this album. It shouldn't be so likeable. It shouldn't be something that you side with. It's raw, it's bluesy, it's so full of attitude I'd cross the street to avoid it. Yet it also appeases my inner rebel and has me reaching for the spirits at 11 am.
What do you recommend for November?