JOHN REED – Elevation (digital download)

ElevationI have had the pleasure of a preview of Elevation before its launch on 23rd October and I have been absolutely bowled over! Three singles – ‘Ringing Bells’, ‘Coal Fires’ and ‘Corruption’ have been released from this album as a taster and shortly all will be revealed!

John is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist now based in the Northeast of the UK. He has his own unique style of storytelling and has been likened to Roy Harper and Ian Anderson. John delivers powerful, political content with messages within the tracks hoping to encourage people to be kind, for justice to prevail and to raise hope for the future of this planet – our home. Elevation will be his 6th solo release. 3½ years over Covid and since John has taken time and professional strategy to take back control of how this album and future work will be introduced to the music market both here and abroad by John taking the reins. The album deserves profound respect as it is a fine body of work, both lyrically and musically. Long time collaborator Ali Karim has been involved with the producing of Elevation.

John’s guest musicians are his son singer-songwriter Duncan Reed, multi-instrumentalist Matt Steady, and the beautiful vocals of Jo Beth Young.

First track on Elevation is ‘Hopeless Dream’ which has a dramatic guitar intro telling of dreams lost and history repeating itself. Superb guitar accompaniment on this track. ‘Eyes’ has a mellow guitar intro setting the scene. Use our eyes – do not follow like sheep is a message within this track I feel. ‘Tiny Minds’ is a clever track, about conflict war, snowballs forming and making an avalanche – the world is too big for tiny minds. Great guitar within the track and powerful words.  ‘Child of the Sun’ is very emotive with a beautiful outro. ‘Deaf To Their Ears’ “I have a voice, I have a mind”.

If I am really pushed for a favourite track, it must be ‘Coal Fires’. Rippling and flowing musically into a rich tapestry of lyrics dreaming up (to me) images of old terraced houses with families huddling around the fire. Those cheery but hard days. Fossil fuel of the past doing its damage to the environment and alternative fuels brought in to save us. Now these alternative fuels are very expensive, and ‘Coal Fires’ might well be the order of the day in modern times to come.

Title track ‘Elevation’ with dramatic lyrics of “big skies scanning the world we know”. ‘Corruption’ as explained in John’s words “When an Iraqi buyer (circa 2004) asked if John would add “something for the birds” when agreeing a deal for a number of machines, the request was refused. But what is corruption?  We are good at calling out other nations for ‘corrupt practice’. Yet we are led by a serially corrupt government in a climate where wealthy people can hide billions in tax havens and live a life of luxury in other countries. while supporting the destruction of their own. ‘Ringing Bells’ can herald, tragedy, joy, celebration but this track tells of “I thought I heard the ringing bells referencing an inability to act” (in Johns words).

‘Authority’ escape barriers, see beyond! ‘Thirst’ – a tale of water with an interesting atmospheric drip in the background. Final track ‘Before It Fades’ gives images of magical colours and moments in nature. Beautiful track to end with.

Elevation is a gem of an album with brilliantly mastered lyrics and music proving John is a master of his craft. 12 glorious and thought-provoking tracks, with lyrics sung so that you can hear the words being said, not drowned out in a heavy barrage of music.

Go buy and do seek out John’s back catalogue. You can find out all about him and live gigs on his website and buy his albums including Elevation (pre-paid orders being taken on September 23rd at a You Tube concert 7pm BST). The album launch itself is October 23rd and you can attend the album gig at The Radio Rooms in Berwick On Tweed or online on October 20th.

The album is available from the website and from gigs only.

Jean Camp

Artist’s website:

‘Famine Road’ – live in the studio: