BLAKE’S FORTUNE – Hello World (own label)

Hello WorldBlake’s Fortune is the nom de plume of a young singer-songwriter from Dublin. His real name is John Lennon which, you have to admit, is something of a hostage to fortune for a man in his position. He’s been around a while, previously working as a member of Pina Kollars’ band but Hello World is his solo debut. In the modern fashion it is primarily released as a download but there is a limited edition of a hundred physical copies.

“The modern fashion” is something that struck me as I first listened to this record for it’s the first time I’ve really noticed neologisms in someone’s writing. The refrain of ‘Molly’, for example, ends with the phrase “take me with” and ‘Going Slow’ mentions texting where a few decades ago the talk would have been about telephone calls. As John says in ‘Disconnected’ “It ain’t real until it’s posted”. It’s funny what you pick up on.

Hello World is inspired by a road trip around the US north-west although the only specific reference is in ‘Point Reyes’ – that’s it on the cover. The album is thoughtful and reflective and it has something of a laid-back Americana vibe but nothing like the west coast acoustic rock sound you might have expected. John plays guitars including slide, synthesisers and percussion and it is the synths that provide the foundation for the songs. He’s supported on bass by Dave Buttner and Damien Walsh, who lends a hand on other instruments, and with occasional fiddle from Eileen O’Driscoll, clarinet from Sarah Gallagher and banjo from Lily Gems but it’s all very restrained. A couple of times John gets behind the drum kit and rocks it up a bit – ‘Going Slow’ and ‘Heart’s Roulette’ are good examples – but not enough to disturb the flow and that’s a good thing because the instrumental style is what really makes Hello World what it is. And what it is a very fine debut album.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘Hiatus’ – the opening track:

Magpie, the fantastic new album by Tess with selected album SoundCloud track…

TESS was born in 1972. In the following years, there could have not been a better education into music and songcraft! Bowie, The Doors, John Lennon -it all left a caliber of musical structure and melody that strongly imprinted on the mind of a growing child. As each newly released song was lapped up on a Sunday “chart show” afternoon, it taught him how to express what he, a quiet child, found hard to do through words alone, yet more importantly it gave him something to aspire to.

For most of his adult life, he didn’t fully embrace a music career. To him, his songs were more like intimate diary entries, recording the major passages of his life. But songs eventually led to performances; and those gigs led to a chance meeting with a cellist in a café. Through her, TESS was introduced to producer and strings arranger Howard Gott. Howard recognised the strength of the vocals, guitar structure and they began work. Howard bought an air of patience to the recording with his string parts offering sensitivity and texture. The album took well over a year to develop, often with long periods of reflection in between tracks; he was determined to give it “his all”. Every song has to be based on the truth of his life; some of the lyrics so intimate that he still finds it hard to directly address their meaning. The result? “An album that creeps under the skin with each listen” (ACOUSTIC MAGAZINE).

And so we have Magpie, 11 songs of depth and introspection. At times haunting and deeply personal – yet always unmistakable. “Not to be ignored”, say MOJO. Available via the Amazon link below: