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Saturday 18 May 2024

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Dallahan Frontman Debut Solo Album and Launch Tour.

Apr 10, 2024

Dallahan frontman and founding member Jack Badcock will unveil his debut solo album this May, fulfilling a long-held ambition and putting his diverse and arresting songwriting skills centre stage. The lead vocalist and gifted guitarist with the acclaimed quartet, for the past decade (dubbed ‘the flying aces of Celtic folk’ by BBC Radio’s Mark Radcliffe), Jack was born in Ireland’s Co. Kilkenny, raised in Yorkshire and now hails from Glasgow.

A former finalist in the BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year he has travelled around the world with Dallahan, the multi award-winning band he originally founded with instrumentalist Ciaran Ryan. His songwriting has increasingly come to the fore, most recently when he penned songs for the band’s critically acclaimed 2023 album Speak of the Devil.

Known for his soulful, stand-out tenor voice, and enigmatic, thought-provoking songwriting, he released an EP – The Driftwood Project – in 2021, which was nominated for Original Work of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards while in 2022 he was commissioned by Celtic Connections to write, arrange and perform a prestigious New Voices concert at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall, writing new songs and rearranging older ones for a large ensemble of musicians.

Having supported Eddi Reader on tour last year, Jack is now on the brink of his first full album release, Cosmography, a collection of 10 evocative and eloquent original songs produced by Euan Burton at Glasgow’s GloWorm Studios.

Euan also plays bass on the album with Louis Abbott on drums and percussion. Tom Gibbs on Rhodes piano and clarinet, Conor Smith on pedal steel, Roo Geddes on violin, Ryan Murphy on Uileann pipes and Dallahan bandmate Andrew Waite on accordion. Some fine female Scottish singer songwriters provide backing and additional vocals including Siobhan Miller and Beth Malcolm, Josie Duncan and Joy Dunlop.

Aptly released on the eve of National Star Wars Day, Cosmography is a rich mix of songs that fuse Badcock’s interests of history, travel and the human condition. He says: “The things that most often inspire me to write are human history as a whole as well as our own collective – and individual – place in the universe.”

The reflective album opens with an emotive, eight minute tour de force Life in Three Dimensions a meditative musing divided into three segments – World of Worlds, Remind Me To Breathe and All These Moments.

Says Badcock: “I guess it’s a song about finding meaning in life but not so much through the eyes of an individual as through the eyes of mutual humanity. It’s common to explore what life should mean for an individual but rarely do we reflect on what the collective human species should do with our finite time in the cosmos.”

It’s a track that showcases the sheer range of Badcock’s crystal clear voice. Punctuated by sensitive guitar, unexpected key changes and a punchy, percussive riff this is something of a toe-in-the-water lunge at the meaning of life and how the longer we live it often seems the less we know.  “I’ve been picking up and putting down/What I already knew/But it seems to be unfamiliar/In shape and in hue.”

The next track slips into a slinky, jazzy vibe – The English Samurai,  is based on an imagined letter penned by 16th century Kent-born navigator William Adams to his wife. Adams was the first Englishman to reach Japan, in 1600. He became recognised as one of the most influential foreigners in the country at that time – a Western samurai known in Japan as Miura Anjin. He excelled in his role as an advisor to the shogun on trade, naval matters, and anything involving Europeans. And when other survivors from his ship eventually sailed home, the shogun demanded that Adams stay. Despite having a wife and children back in England, he made the most of his new life in Japan.

Badcock turns to history again in The Ruin – with lyrics full of visual imagery it is a reworking of an Old English elegy evoking the former glory of a ruined Roman city believed to be Bath. The poem was written in the 8th or 9th century by an unknown author and published in the Exeter Book, an Anglo-Saxon anthology of riddles and poems. 

Badcock’s kid gloves treatment of this song emphasises the fact that the fabric of ancient buildings can be destroyed but not the soul. “Oh the ruin is alive and well. Though she’s quiet now with time to dwell.”

The Ghost of Leland Birch is another song based on a poem – this time the wordsmith is Michael Creagh, a cousin of Badcock’s. Jack explains that on a visit to his family in Ireland, he was introduced to a whole gang of relatives he didn’t know existed and taken to a clan gathering where everyone had to do ‘a turn’. Creagh’s party piece was an ode to a local poitin (illicit whiskey) distiller called Leland Birch. Jack set the poem to music.

 He says: “It serves as an obituary to Lely, the poitin distiller in the small town of Rathdowney, County Laois where many of my Irish family live.”

It’s a bluesy, catchy percussive number with classy clarinet and chilled piano from Tom Gibbs to the fore. “From the calf with colitis to the housewife with arthritis/Lely had the cure for one and all.”

Showing poetic skills himself throughout the album, Jack’s lyrics hit home in the stripped-back How You Raise a Child. Written during lockdown it’s a poignant condemnation of the number of young people incarcerated around the world.

He says: “I wrote it with kings, queens, high-ranking executives and politicians in mind but it’s for children around the globe who do not choose the circumstances they are born into.”

A whole raft of voices join him for the powerful coda ‘Make our world a home/raise them as your own.’

Several of the songs fall into the ‘bigger picture’ frame. A delicious melancholy runs through a song of fractured relationships – Deep in The Hills – while the album ends on the poppy, carefree Entropy – another clever vignette about the uncertainty and brevity of the mysterious tapestry of life. “Every animal and flora/and every planet’s bright aurora/and all the life was ever lived on every world/was only ever gonna be a fleeting blink of history/of which I’m glad I’ve laid my humble eyes upon.”

Says Jack: “The impermanence of everything from humanity to galaxies is something I find inspiring, giving our short time to view the cosmos all the more meaning. I often finish my gigs with this song.”

Venus Was Adorned is a slow-paced, piano-laced track that Jack began writing when aboard a small boat on an Amazon jungle adventure in 2022 referencing the second closest planet to the sun, the power of nature and touching on a disappearing universe with ‘twenty thousand stars a second fading from our view.”

On a lighter note, Too Many Things is described by Jack as “almost a therapy session that tackles the excessive indulgences of myself and peers in the music industry.”

A flamboyant piano embroiders the tale of indulgence and temptation and the ruminating chorus says it all: “There’s too many things I don’t need in my pocket/There’s too many things on my mind/And the only end to this that I have in sight/Is the bottom of this glass of wine.”

Elsewhere, on a more personal note, Agapi Mou (a Greek expression of endearment translating as ‘my love’) is a stand out track – a beautiful ballad that weaves a collage of memories, piecing together a long distance relationship. A full blown soundscape with delicate steel guitar is the backcloth to this narrative song that travels from the Greek island of Aegina to Hoi An in Vietnam.

Cosmography is a contemplative album that effortlessly hops the genres and tugs at the push and pull of life – its fragility and rolling cycle. A glowing galaxy of songs that prove an inspired and impressive first solo outing for one of Scotland’s most talented music makers.

Album Launch Tour Dates as Follows:

1 MAY INVERNESS Acoustic Music Club

5 MAY PENRITH Playhouse

6 MAY STIRLING Folk Club

8 MAY DUNFERMLINE Folk Club

9 MAY CRAIL Folk Club

10 MAY ABERDEEN The Blue Lamp

16 MAY GLASGOW The Glad Cafe

17 MAY LINCOLN Southside

18 MAY BRIDPORT Folk Society

19 MAY LONDON The Green Note

20 MAY ASHBURTON Arts Centre

21 MAY ST NEOTS Folk Club

22 MAY PRESTON Willows Folk Club

24 MAY BELPER Folk at The Meadows

25 MAY RIPON Grewelthorpe Village Hall

30 MAY KIRKCALDY The Polish Club

COSMOGRAPHY is Released May 3, 2024

For further details please visit: www.jackbadcock.com

 

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