A question I’m often asked is, “Who inspires you musically?” There’s not really a quick answer to that – as it can depend on the mood I’m in! I could quickly list 20 or 30 artists for you.
However, as I’m in the middle of writing for my next album I’ve been thinking about who currently inspires me – who I’m listening to right now. These are the people I keep telling others about. They have something that inspires creativity in me – often not in an immediately apparent way, but it’s there nonetheless.
A friend had a spare ticket going to a gig at Pocklington Arts Centre a stone’s throw from where I used to live. I had nothing better to do that evening, so the offer of live music was too good to turn down. I’m so glad I went! I’ve since bought all three of Jon’s albums, and made the long drive to Manchester’s Deaf Institute to see him and his band in 2014. He writes accessible folk pop/rock songs that draw upon the great songwriters of the 1970s and delivers them with vocal grit and utter conviction.
Paul has a unique gift of being able to mix humour, challenging thought provocation and quality acoustic pop songs in a way that is incredibly natural and convincing. His smooth vocal tone delivers the message of his intelligent lyrics effortlessly, and his guitar playing is often intricate and intrinsically musical. I always seem to feel more optimistic about life after listening to Paul – and that can’t be a bad thing.
UK songwriter Tom McRae came onto my radar while reading a (rather geeky) music production magazine. One of my favourite producers, Joe Chiccarelli, mentioned that when recording Tom’s voice for All Maps Welcome he’d used the same vocal microphone that I use (Rode K2). So, I bought the album to see how one of the world’s top recording engineers could make it sound. Consequently, I fell in love with the depth of Tom’s songwriting, and have bought many more of his CDs since.
If the surname had you wondering if we were related, you’d be right – I’ve got the great blessing of being married to Sarah! She is a gifted piano player and has the enviable ability of being able to write clear, engaging lyrics that avoid cliché – which isn’t always easy to do! Fans of spacious, contemplative piano led music in the vein of Jason Upton will almost certainly enjoy her songwriting. Sarah also plays in my band on live dates, and we often lead corporate worship togther at church, events & conferences.
I first came across Jarrod when he was on tour supporting the sublime David Ford in 2014. A very cold, blizzard swept winter’s evening at Holmfirth’s charactferful Picturedrome was warmed up tremendously by this giant of a man’s earthy brand of Americana.
I had the privilege of producing Steve’s two albums (Sound Of Heaven & All For Love), and got to play acoustic and electric guitars and add backing vocals to some of the tracks. He’s a prolific writer and has an ability to write hook-filled anthems that sound like you’ve known them all your life. We had a bit of fun with the track below, giving it a bit of 70s disco vibe! The drummer on both albums is Dewi Thomas, who is also a real linchpin of my live band.
Irish singer songwriter Glen Hansard came to my attention in the charming modern day musical Once, set in the city of Dublin. I was taken aback at how well this actor was singing – and he wasn’t miming! It all made sense to me when I heard director John Carney explain that instead of casting an actor who could sing a bit he cast a singer who could act a bit. This made a film about a busker utterly convincing – and Glen’s passionate songwriting has had me hooked ever since.
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