HAPPY RELEASEDAY JOHN BLEK!
It was the early summer of 2018, – “Thistle & Thorn” “Blek’s ode to nature […] his most accomplished work to date” (The Irish Times) – had just been completed, however, the Irish Singer/Songwriter just continued to write.
“I was excited by the prospect of working around a specific theme and the songs for The Embers were the next natural step. I enjoyed giving myself structure this time around. It was not about moments of inspiration but more about working on these songs and ideas until I felt they were great. More craft and less luck.“
Ever since this point in time he knew he was in the process of becoming entangled into a bigger picture. A four-album cycle began to take shape, circling around the four elements water (Catharsis Vol. I), Earth (Thistle & Thorn) fire and air. “The Embers”, a firebed of a glimmering coals, is now released exactly one year after “Thistle & Thorn”.
The topics are circling around transformation processes and often draw on Blek’s own biography, the emotional maturity of coming of age, but also the civilisational confusion and decomposition processes of our time: „I addressed emotional maturity within oneself and the bizarre decline of social and political civilisation in the UK and USA.“
“Flame” compares the longing and the passion of a love affair to flames which consume a building blazingly fast. Others associate the warmth of a firebed with a romantic relationship (“Ciara Waiting”). With “Revived” a wonderfully comforting duet with the great Irish songwriter colleague Mick Flannery finds its place.
Blek stays true to his musical principles, nevertheless, gets more and more refined. The focal point is extraordinary melodic fingerpicking on the acoustic guitar and a voice which gets warmer, wiser and paraphrases a little more precise from album to album. Blek gets inspired by Irish, British and American folk and establishes his own position somewhere in between.
While the last album was mainly made with the two Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy collaborators Joan Shelley and Nathan Salsburg, with this one the drums of Davie Ryan and the clarinets of Matthew Berrill come to the limelight. A warm breath runs through the songs: “Musically I wanted to use soft and warm sounds on this record to try and draw the heat of the fire into the songs. For this, I used a lot of clarinet and bass clarinet. The warm breath-like sound added a wonderful blanket for the songs to lie upon.“
John Blek was recently awarded Number One Award in Ireland by IMRO for an outstanding independent album release in 2019 and “Thistle and Thorn” was praised everywhere by BBC and RTÉ radio editors. Shortly before that, ‘Salt in the Water’ of Blek’s penultimate solo album “Catharsis Vol. I” was nominated as a Song of the Year at the International Folk Music Awards in Kansas City. It’s probably fair to say, that John Blek in his current form is not only one of the most diligent and prolific but also one of the best singer-songwriters in Europe.