STYLUSBOY – Routes (Tortoise Recordings)

RoutesAlthough Coventry singer-songwriter Steve Jones released the Out Upon The Ocean EP in May, it’s been six years since his last studio album, Hospitality For Hope, so, again working with Nizlopi’s John Parker on double bass, Routes is a welcome return for his lo-fi folk.

It opens with ‘Embrace The View’, one of two tracks that featured on the EP in live versions, Greg Schofield on keys with Destroyers drummer Tim Bowes holding down the walking beat on a number about being in the moment and embracing life as it comes and looking to the horizon rather than behind. A long-established live favourite, the other is the melancholic five-minute slow waltz ‘For The Souls of My Brothers’, a gospel-tinted song of loss based on his own family history and set to the backdrop of the Coventry Blitz during which his great grandfather worked as a fireman.

The EP’s title track is sandwiched in-between, jauntily tracing a similar thematic path to the first with Wes Finch on electric guitar who also appears on the shuffling drums and choppy rhythmed love song ‘All The Details’, co-writer Jess Morgan on harmonies (elsewhere courtesy of Holly Hewitt). There’s a rockier, bluesy feel to ‘Find Your Gold’ about not spending your life like a covered up portrait that no one sees, but then it’s stripped back down again for the touching acoustic fingerpicked reflective ‘Keep You’ with its theme of memory and constancy. Further fingerpicking can be heard on ‘Open The Door’, an equally uncluttered looking for the sunshine after the rain number that shows the fine harmonies to perfection.

Taking the pace up, Parker’s double bass gets the spotlight on the ‘Ride This Storm’, a number which suggests Paul Simon’s ‘Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes’ meeting The Be Good Tanyas’ ‘Littlest Birds’ before the album dives into melancholy for the metaphorical ‘Shelter The Light’, a memory of childhood and a father and his young son’s journey home after a hard day’s work number that builds to a big instrumental finale.

Routes ends back on a pastoral folksy note with ‘This Is Where I Belong’, a fingerpicked declaration of finding an anchor and a sense of self as he sings “I’ve come home to hold your hand, stand with you, this is where I belong”, an epiphany that perfectly captures the thread and warmth of the journey and the album.

Mike Davies

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Artist’s website: www.stylusboy.co.uk

‘Out On The Ocean’ – official video:

Stylusboy announces his second handmade album

Stylusboy
Photograph by Redwood Photography

Stylusboy, Coventry singer-songwriter Steve Jones, creates indie folk music steeped in warm-hearted melodies and heartfelt lyrics. Influenced by cult contemporary songwriters like Damien Rice and Elliot Smith as well as classic performers such as Nick Drake and Neil Young. Stylusboy’s songs have been described as ‘absolutely brilliant’ by BBC Radio 2’s Justine Greene.

On 27th September 2019 Stylusboy’s second album Routes is released through his own label, Tortoise Recordings, on handmade CD and on all major digital platforms through AWAL Distribution. The self produced album is a collection of songs inspired by love, loss, family and pressing on through the difficult times. The musical talents of double bass genius John Parker (Nizlopi, Ben Walker, Will Pound), sort after drummer Tim Bowes (The Destroyers), critically acclaimed singer songwriter Wes Finch on electric guitar and blues starlet Holly Hewitt on harmonies create a warm musical backdrop to Steve’s songwriting. Long time friend and renowned songwriter Jess Morgan has co-written one of the ten songs on Routes.

Since the release of his critically acclaimed debut album Hospitality For Hope in 2015, Stylusboy has continued to drive his songwriting and creativity with the release of several EPs as well as a live album recorded in a manor house deep in the Derbyshire countryside. Steve’s fine art background inspires the fact that all of his releases have unique handmade sleeves lovingly made by Steve himself, all part of the Stylusboy ‘handmade indie folk’ style.

Stylusboy’s sound of ‘arresting melodies and poignant lyrics’ (Right Chord Music) has received praise and accolades from the likes of Acoustic Magazine, R2 Magazine, For Folks Sake, God is in the TV as well as BBC Introducing, 6Music, Xfm and Amazing Radio. Champion of independent music, Tom Robinson from BBC 6 Music, has described Stylusboy as:

“A leading light among today’s new generation of DIY digital troubadours”

Whilst cult website God is in the TV said:

“A sound that continues to explore and advance the relationship between more traditional folk and popular music.”

Performing all over the UK including sell out shows at Green Note in London and Warwick Arts Centre in his home city of Coventry, Stylusboy is an enchanting live performer. He has supported the likes of John Smith, Newton Faulkner, Danny and the Champions of the World, Grant-Lee Philipps, Megson and Lucy Ward. As befitting a modern day troubadour he’s performed one-to-one shows for Emily Barker’s Folk in a Box and BBC Coventry and Warwickshire’s All the Wrong Music in all the Right Places as well as pioneering online gigs (well before Facebook live was a thing) to audiences all around the world and has played numerous house gigs. Stylusboy has shared his intimate folk music at festivals such as the BBC Introducing Stage at Wychwood Festival, Warwick Folk Festival, Mosley Folk Festival and Greenbelt Festival. The lead track from his second release Whole Picture EP became a number 1 in Indonesia with the EP later becoming ‘EP Of The Year’ on music blog This Is A Popscene. Earlier in 2019 Steve was commissioned by Coventry City of Culture 2021 to create a piece of work by one of the Universal Human Rights.

Routes is released on 27th September 2019 through Stylusboy’s own label Tortoise Recordings and via AWAL digital distribution.

Artist’s website: https://stylusboy.co.uk

A live oldie – ‘Out Upon The Ocean’:

THE HUT PEOPLE – Routes (Fellside FECD280)

RoutesThe Hut People are an English instrumental duo, Sam Pirt and Gary Hammond. Routes is their fourth studio album on the Fellside label. Both are experienced musicians with and the list of artists they have worked with would grace any music festival – it includes Kathryn Tickell, The Dubliners, Sharon Shannon, Jez Lowe, The Beautiful South and Nina Simone. Sam Pirt is an accordionist who brings melodies from across the globe and Gary Hammond a percussionist with an equally eclectic variety of instruments and rhythms. Together they form a duo which has been exciting audiences since their first album was released in January 2010. Swaledale Festival have described them as “The only band to have been asked back eight times consecutively – because they’re so good!”

The Hut People’s inspiration is a diverse as their music. Routes opens with ‘Humours of Tulla’, a reel they found in Belgium and is followed by ‘Gumboot’ with its inspiration from mine workers in Apartheid South Africa. ‘The Whitby Drip’ is inspired by the toilet cistern at Whitby Pavilion, the drip recorded so it could later be used as the rhythm to build a tune around. In print you might think that wouldn’t work but you only need to watch the video to see the skill that the duo bring to their music and how well the percussion and accordion complement each other – even in a shed

Several of the songs on Routes (‘Gumboot’, ‘The Cage’ and ‘Sweet Nightingale’) were inspired by a visit to the Pitmen’s Painters exhibition. ‘Polka Chinois’ and ‘Disfarces/Dis Found Harmonium’ are from campsite and fire lit sessions – and if you were on the campsite at a festival you’d want to go across and listen. ‘Fanta’ is another original composition, this one created in a cupboard in Portugal at the Costa Del Folk festival. The album closes with ‘Molnbyggen’, a slower traditional tune.

Routes is an album which lovers of traditional folk should enjoy for the audacity of some of the playing and arrangements. But while the album is grounded in British traditional folk music, it pulls in influences from around the world. With its inspiration from toilet cisterns to apartheid via European tunes and The Hut People’s unique blend of accordion and percussion, this should appeal to a wider audience. There are plenty of opportunities to get a sense of the duo’s stage presence, with twenty or so gigs between now and Easter.

Mike Wistow

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‘Tsuiluikka’ at Songs From The Shed:

The Hut People announce their fourth album

The Hut People

This month The Hut People release their fourth studio album on the Fellside label entitled Routes. Tunes forging pathways and routes underground; across oceans and traversing motorways. Infectious melodies and foot-tapping rhythms packed into containers laden with grooves from South Africa, Quebec and across the globe; North, South, East and West. Paths taken were long and plenty, tunes plucked and worked on in disparate places. ‘Humours of Tulla’ was found in Belgium with their feet in a paddling pool; ‘Gumboot’, ‘The Cage’ and ‘Sweet Nightingale’ garnered after a visit to the Pitmen Painter’s exhibition in Durham. ‘The Whitby Drip’ pit patted into their heads after a visit to the loo at Whitby Pavilion, ‘Disfarces’ from a campsite in Beverley, ‘Dis Found Harmonium’ and ‘Polka Chinois’ from fire lit folk sessions and the delightful musical partnership of Wood/Cutting. ‘Fanta’ was created in a cupboard in Portugal, ‘The Maid’s Stomach’ bouncing with ‘Honking Pigs’ and ‘Brighton Camp’ with its nod to reggae and maypole dancing in Goole. ‘Dinkies’ was filtered and finished in a church in Bristol before they let Sam take them off to Sweden for a soft landing. Many paths trodden, much squeezing and hitting along the way, open the container and peer inside!

Champions of the standing ovation, The Hut People are rapidly gaining more and more of a reputation as one of the hottest and most entertaining world/folk acts touring today. Taking the audience on a voyage across the globe with their material, they perform a high-octane unique blend of home-grown tunes mixed with British, Nordic and European folk music, perfectly formed and embellished with the driving accordion and a mind-boggling array of exotic percussion.

Accordionist Sam Pirt has performed as a member of 422 (previous Radio 2 Folk awards winners) and is a very experienced musician who is well established within the folk circuit. Sam has in the past performed alongside Kathryn Tickell, The Dubliners, Sharon Shannon, Jez Lowe, Brian Finnegan, Brian McNeill and many others. He is also the founder of Ethno England.

Percussionist Gary Hammond has for the past 16 years recorded and toured with The Beautiful South. He has also worked with Nina Simone and has frequently been a part of many other groups and collaborations within the World, Jazz and Pop genres.

Their first studio album was released in January 2010 entitled Home Is Where The Hut Is and in 2012 their second album Picnic was released to critical acclaim and a raft of good reviews and much airplay. 2014 would see Cabinet Of Curiosities released, once again gaining rave reviews and plenty of airplay worldwide.

Their live show is like nothing you’ve ever seen before – expect feel-good dancing tunes, audience participation, step dancing, Quebecois foot-percussion (whilst playing the accordion!) and humour aplenty. This is high-octane feel-good music from a very likeable duo that have the ability to get the whole audience involved and loving it – before the end of the first tune!

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Artists’ website: www.thehutpeople.co.uk

Live at The Ram Club: