Julian Langer

7128787Some avid followers of the blog may have come across Julian Langer a while ago when I shared one of his songs with you, recently, though, the young Devon-based acoustic folk singer-songwriter has brought out his debut album. Having dealt with the whole process of recording releasing and promoting the LP completely on his own he seems to be creating quite a stir in his local scene. The album, which was written during and after Langer’s treatment for a pineal brain tumour, is both moving and impressive in many ways. Consisting of ten tracks all of which are completely home produced by Julian simply using his own home equipment.

When it comes down to it, though, the real question is whether the music itself is good and I can honestly say that Langer’s eponymous debut really is a record that delivers at the most essential level. Production-wise I found it very difficult to notice any kind of reduction in quality due to his lack of equipment or training, with every track sounding crisp, clear and smooth. His guitar technique is arguably the stand-out element of the album with every song containing it’s own unique feel and emotion that is not only expressed just as well through his guitar parts as his singing. Despite saying that the lyrics are another particularly special part of the record, having gone through such a journey at such a young age (he’ll be turning 22 shortly) its touching to hear him express his feelings through these songs. His poetic lyrics are given a voice that is untrained but, perhaps for that very reason, deeply personal and real. What Langer does particularly well is change the mood without playing with his tried and tested style, while the tracks all flow nicely together they all have a very different feel to them moving from feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy in tracks like Still Life, (Well this is a still life, of a man, singing for the night, and I wish I could create, something beautiful) to things with a much more, relaxed and often nostalgic feel, with The Woods, for example (A childhood spent outside all day, learning how not to behave). Above all though what the record delivers is a feeling of hope, for me. Langer insists the album isn’t any more impressive because of his illness, he suggests that, ‘it’s just life. You just go through and progress or you die and I don’t want to die.’

Overall though, Julian has produced a strong album when all the odds are, really stacked against him and this record deserves all the attention it can get so give this track a listen and if you like it the albums available both on disc or via iTunes.

 

Nick Drake

In this past couple of weeks I’ve been introduced to a man who I should, rightfully, have been introduced to years ago as one of the greatest musicians of all time. This fact goes along with Nick Drake’s inherently ironic and mercilessly melancholic career that lasted just few short years from 1969 until his untimely suicide in 1974. Luckily for us during that short spell he did, at least, craft three albums. All of which can be called masterpieces without having to over-exaggerate.

The first of his releases Five Leaves Later being a brilliant pre-cursor of the two that follow. Understated musicality and tone of voice surrounded by an air of mystery, depression, melancholy, discovery and a man’s search to find himself. It is that quality in Drake, alone, that makes his music so perfect. The ability to intertwine his music with emotions, even without lyrics his reductionist sound that most often is just one acoustic guitar can speak to you. The meaning is clear. His second album, Bryter Layter, is the happiest of all three but still contains some of the most sobering tracks, ‘Sunday’ being one of my favourites of his altogether. And his final record, Pink Moon, brings in a lot more of the 60’s hippy, psychedelic culture that Drake was clearly a part of, and is captured in the intriguing cover artwork.

The sadness that surrounds his existence just adds to the whole legacy that he’s left behind. Throughout his life he suffered depression which is constantly evident within his music and following the release of Pink Moon he became more and more of a recluse and even moved back in with his parents. During the years he was alive he gained no success and was practically a complete unknown and it wasn’t until the release of a complete collection of his work in 1979, five years after his death, by the mid-80’s bands as big as The Cure started citing him as an influence and he started to receive the critical plaudits he deserved. But even now it’s taken me twenty years to hear of this guy and it just goes to show how much of success is reliant on luck. Drake is a maverick, a poet and an incredible musician yet he goes on underneath the radar just waiting to be stumbled upon, now you’ve read this blog post you can stumble upon him too, and maybe for the first I’ve done something good by introducing you to him!