JOHN FORRESTER – Restless (Irregular Records IRR109)

RestlessJohn Forrester is a singer, a songwriter, an ace double bass player and the sort of chap that everybody in the business knows. Restless is his fourth solo album but his first working with a producer, Roy Dodds. With a small group of supporting musicians, Dodds has constructed a rich, varied soundscape without rounding off the corners. John’s voice can be smooth and delicate but is more often big and forceful reflecting the back-story of tragedy that interrupted recording.

Restless talks not of happy wanderlust but of dissatisfaction with wherever one happens to be. You know what he means: there is always something better around the corner even if it’s the place you just left behind. It’s the inability to settle coupled with the inability to move for whatever reason. In ‘Butterfly Catcher’, John sings “Stare out a new window, try to wish myself there” followed by “When I try to leave you’re blocking the stairs” encapsulating the dichotomy that the record explores.

John opens with the wistful ‘Richmond Hill’, initially a cappella with Kath Williams cello and Saskia Tomkins’ violin joining in. It’s a lovely song, looking back with fondness and forward with hope. ‘New Season’ is lifted by Andy Webb’s slide guitar and John definitely wants to leave wherever he is but in ‘Somewhere I Can Be’ he doesn’t know where to go. Jenny Carr’s piano and George Whitfield’s accordion help to provide the drive under John’s urgent acoustic guitar.

Restless is an album full of exquisite pain. Only in ‘Escaping A Storm’ does the central character find the place where she wants to be. In some ways the narrative reminded me of ‘She’s Leaving Home’ but so much bleaker. I’m very much enjoying the record but, as anyone will tell you, I’m a miserable old sod.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: www.forrester.uk.com

‘Escaping A Storm’ – live session:

John Forrester announces new solo album

John Forrester

As the title suggests, Restless – the fourth studio album from English songwriter John Forrester – explores the transient underpinning of the lone musician: songs of travel, displacement, creativity and disappointment sit alongside those that explore the journey we all make through life.

While working on the album, a close family member’s terminal illness forced Forrester to pause mid-album and spend time back in his home town to care for his loved one.

“You make a life for yourself”, he reflects, “But then you’re pulled back to something in the past. Back in the town you grew up in. There’s definitely a comfort in familiarity but also a disconnect, as you’re now effectively just a visitor.”

These events seeped into Forrester’s writing.

“It certainly coloured the album. There are songs that wouldn’t have otherwise existed. The album changed shape.”

Previously recorded songs no longer seemed right and new work emerged as Forrester’s world changed irrevocably – and when recording resumed, a broader canvas was laid out upon which the new songs were afforded more room to breathe and be heard.

Working with a producer – Fairground Attraction’s Roy Dodds – for the first time, Forrester was encouraged to play less and not fill every pocket of the aural spectrum. The result is a cohesive yet adventurous album that, although reminiscent of Forrester’s earlier work, explores new ground both musically and lyrically.

From the a cappella opener ‘Richmond Hill’, where the singer earmarks a place of personal pilgrimage for future reflection, to ‘Somewhere I Can Be’, the lead-off single, a song for “all the bits of us that we leave behind”, the general mood of the LP captures the essence, drive and complexities of the restless soul.

‘Butterfly Catcher’ “was inspired by people that seek to take your time and energy when you don’t want to give it. It’s about boundaries and not giving too much of yourself away”, while ‘Restless Bones’ is an autobiographical look at the passing of time and friendships.

Restless is an album born of change – with two very different sides owing to its divided recording process. It’s also a record that relishes in a newfound sense of experimentation and collaboration, while staying true to its creator’s restless soul.

As a solo performer, Forrester has shared stages with the likes of Show Of Hands, Nick Harper and John Kirkpatrick. An accomplished electric and double-bass player, he has also served with Pressgang and, currently, Rastko, The Outcast Band and Robb Johnson.

“A distinctive and immediate sound, this is something special.” – R2 Magazine

Artist’s website: http://forrester.uk.com/

‘Somewhere I Can Be’: