Multiple Brit & Grammy award winner John Illsley is set to release his sixth solo studio album ‘Long Shadows’ on May 13th 2016. The album follows his 2014 studio release ‘Testing The Water’ and last year’s live album ‘Live In London’.
After cutting his teeth as bass player and one of the founding members of Dire Straits, Illsley has also released a steady stream of solo material, an output that, although never rushed, has been critically acclaimed. Undertaking lead vocal, acoustic guitar and bass duties on all of the album’s eight tracks, Illsley’s unmistakable sound, approach to arrangement and song writing is paired with his faultless lyrical storytelling. A departure from the previous album’s themes of personal trials and tribulations, Illsley comments that the lyrical content pertains to “the obvious political and social elements which have always concerned me.”
Although Illsley has never been one to comment extensively on the meaning behind his lyrical inspirations (preferring to leave interpretation to the listener), some tracks on ‘Long Shadows’ do have a defined and contemporary relevance. Illsley remarks “'In the Darkness' for example is a take on the internet and how it seduces us all in some ways, but particularly those young people who get influenced to join radical religious groups.”
Opening with the solemn instrumental ‘Morning’, the album swells and dips with each musical movement. Energetic numbers, like ‘In The Darkness’ and ‘Long Shadow' are indicative of Illsley’s rock and blues background, demonstrating his ability as a seasoned musician and composer who can move with the times, whilst slower tracks like ‘There’s Something About You’ and ‘Ship Of Fools’ showcase Illsley’s story telling, as his vocals become reminiscent of the blues troubadours of old.
Illsley enlisted a roster of top friends and musicians for this release, including Simon Johnson (Lana Del Rey, James Morrison) on electric guitar and Guy Fletcher performing keyboard duties, as well as co-producing the album with Illsley. The Mark Knopfler owned British Grove Studios along with Room with a View Studio & A Bay Studios were used to record and produce the record, with Illsley’s children Jess and Dee Dee Illsley also contributed backing vocals.
John also expresses himself through painting, a passion he has developed over the last twenty years, and has now had solo exhibitions around the world. “For me art and music are interlinked - you start with a blank canvas and work away until you are satisfied that you have made something which is as close as it can to be to what you are trying to achieve. There is a great element of mystery in both processes which can surprise you and upset you in equal measure.” His most recent art exhibition took place at Belgravia Gallery in May last year.
‘Long Shadows’ track listing:
2 In The Darkness
3 Comes Around Again
4 There’s Something About You
5 Ship Of Fools
6 Lay Me Down
7 Long Shadows
8 Close To The Edge
John Illsley - Lead vocal, electric & acoustic guitar & Fender bass
Simon Johnson – Mandolin, electric guitars, acoustic lead guitar, slide guitar
Paul Beavis – Drums and percussion
Phil Palmer – Electric lead guitar, electric guitar
Steve Smith –Yamaha grand piano, piano, Wurlitzer, Hammond organ, Taurus bass pedals
Guy Fletcher - Hammond organ, backing vocals, Yamaha CS80 synthesiser, electric piano
Jess Greenfield, Jess Illsley & Dee Dee Illsley - backing vocals
Robbie MacIntosh – Slide guitar
Everton Nelson -1st violin
Ian Humphries - 2nd violin
Bruce White - Viola
Caroline Dale – Cello
John Illsley will also being playing select shows in the UK during 2016: