Blair Dunlop has offered a first taster of his highly anticipated second album ‘House of Jacks’ which is due for release on 26 May via Rooksmere Records just prior to which he’ll be kicking off his House of Jacks Tour. Watch the video trailer below.
‘House of Jacks’ offers a more contemporary sound and a richer sound, a shift away from the intentionally light production used on his 2012 debut ‘Blight & Blossom’. Whilst his trademark guitar is still recognisable there is another element of his skill that continues to transcend and is still there at the forefront…he’s great songs. He’s a great songsmith, that’s something I’ve heard repeated over and over and this album is no exception.
“Every footstep I place, every dream that I chase, can somewhere be traced down the line. We may think that we’re free, in every degree, but we’re just in a chain by design” – taken from Chain by Design
On ‘House of Jacks’ Blair has, once again, teamed up with producer Mark Hutchinson, a partnership which enables Blair’s storytelling, musicianship and captivating voice to shine. The lightness of instrumentation in the opening song, and first single, ‘Something’s Gonna Give Way’ belies the grimness of its tale of schoolboy prejudices and the damaging consequences.
The conceptual ‘45s (c.’69)’ and its companion piece ‘45s (c.’14)’ are astute descriptions of a Soho club – in its 60s heyday (“They’ve had The Kinks and Mr Zimmerman and all things in between, even Jackson Frank but back when he had self-esteem”) and in 2014 (“Meet me at the entrance, bring your ego we’ll be fine. We’ll catch the VIP train and pass the people stood in line”). A supporter of both Spurs and ACF Fiorentina, Blair’s love of football inspired the instrumental ‘Viola’s Reverie’, on which his trademark guitar work comes to the fore, and the Morricone-esque ‘The Ballad of Enzo Laviano’ – a fictional tale of a young Italian footballer on the eve of his proposed move to Naples from his Sardinian hometown. Elsewhere Blair explores denial (’50 Shades of Blue’), determinism (‘Chain by Design’), miscommunication (‘Different Schools’) and deliberation (‘The Station’, inspired by Robert J Hastings’ poem).
The title track, a poetic tale of a profound love, is another fine example of Blair’s lyricism and his ability to write a memorable melody. ‘Song of Two Bridges’ – a tender portrait of life as an observer, written by Ashley Hutchings and Ken Nicol (the only song on the record not written by Blair) – brings the album to a poignant close.
At just 22 years old Blair has made quite a name for himself already, he released two EPs in his teens, becoming a regular at folk festivals in both Britain and abroad, and touring as both a solo artist and the front man of the regenerated The Albion Band laid the groundwork for the release of his debut album ‘Blight & Blossom’.
‘Blight & Blossom’ brought him widely deserved recognition, Q awarded the record 4 stars, declaring Blair to be “a vital bridge between Brit folk’s first and latest flowerings”, The Guardian followed suit stating “The British folk scene has produced a series of impressive dynasties, and this looks like the start of yet another” while Radio 2’s Simon Mayo called it “An outstanding debut”. He then picked up the prestigious Horizon Award at the 2013 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. There’s no denying he’s worked hard to get where he is, he’s in Australia this month! But I think you’re all in for a treat so try and catch him on his House of Jacks Tour (dates below).
01 Something’s Gonna Give way
02 45s (c.69)
03 Fifty Shades of Blue
04 House of Jacks
05 Chain by Design
06 Different Schools
07 Violas Reverie
08 The Ballad of Enzo Laviano
09 The Station
10 45s (c.14)
11 Song of Two Bridges
Released May 26, 2014 via Rooksmere Records
House of Jacks Tour
21/05 – The Basement, York
24/05 – Fruit, Hull
25/05 – Bearded Theory Festival, South Derbyshire
25/05 – Thekla, Bristol
26/05 – Cambridge Junction, Cambridge
27/05 – Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
28/05 – The Greystones, Sheffield
29/05 – Bodega Social, Nottingham
30/05 – Band on the Wall, Manchester
31/05 – Cecil Sharp House, London
01/06 – St. Bartholomew’s Church, Newton Abbot
For full details and ticket links visit: blairdunlop.com