John Grant returns with Boy from Michigan

John Grant has announced news of his fifth solo album, Boy From Michigan, released 25th June via Bella Union in the UK/Europe and Partisan in the US. Produced by Cate Le Bon, the album is available to pre-order here. To celebrate the occasion Grant has shared an astonishing acid-soaked video to the album’s title track directed by Casey and Ewan.

Of the track Grant says: “I discovered the chord progression in the chorus of ‘Boy from Michigan’ on my OB6 back when I was working on ‘Love is Magic,’ and while I knew it would eventually become a song, I didn’t know what to do with it yet. Sometimes you just know you need to take your time with certain ideas. The song sprang from a moment I experienced when I was about 11 and we were about to move to Colorado from Michigan; my best buddy took me aside and warned me about ‘the world out there’ – so the song is about the transition from childhood to adulthood, the simplicity and innocence of childhood and the oftentimes rude awakening that occurs when one crosses over into adulthood. It’s also about romanticizing the past, which can be dangerous. I don’t believe one can or should live in the past, but if you ignore it, well, you know. I also have to say there are moments when I actually relive the scent of early Spring as the snow is beginning to melt revealing the wet Earth beneath. It’s incredible.”

Somewhere in the last decade, John Grant established himself as one of the great musical chroniclers of the American Dream, angled mostly from its flipside. What if everything you were promised, if you worked hard, loved hard, played and prayed hard, it all turned to ash? Grant lays it all out for careful cross-examination in his most autobiographical work to date. In a decade of making records by himself, he has playfully experimented with mood, texture and sound. At one end of his musical rainbow, he is the battle-scarred piano-man, at the other, a robust electronic auteur. Boy from Michigan seamlessly marries both.

Boy from Michigan sets out its stall early in order to fan his lyrical deck wider. Grant knows America well enough to document it in microscopic, painterly detail. The brittle intensity of the early life experiences of a middle-aged man twist stealthily into a broad metaphor for the state of the nation. “I guess I’m just thinking about where I came from,” he notes, “and what I went into.”

With longtime friend Cate Le Bon in the production chair, Grant has maximized the emotional impact of the melodies, stripping the noise of vaudeville and mood-enhancing a fruitful, spare, strangely orchestrated new world for him to live in. A clarinet forms the bedrock of a song. There is a saxophone solo. The record swings between ambient and progressive, calm and livid.

“Cate and I are both very strong-willed people”, says Grant.  “Making a record is hard on a good day. The mounting stress of the US election and the pandemic really started to get to us by late July and August last year. It was at times a very stressful process under the circumstances, but one which was also full of many incredible and joyful moments.” 

With the frenetic backdrop to its incubation playing out in the distance, the narrative journey of Boy from Michigan opens with Grant returning to his artistic prettiest. It begins with three songs drawn from his pre-Denver life: the title song, The Rusty Bull and County Fair. “It’s my Michigan Trilogy,” he says. Each draws the listener in to a specific sense of place, before untangling its significance with a rich cast-list of local characters, often symbolizing the uncultivated faith of childhood. 

Tracks four and five, Mike and Julie and The Cruise Room, are perhaps the most affecting of the record, plunging deep into Grant’s late teenage years in Denver. In the former, Grant is confronted by a friend who wants to be with him, a man he brick-walls by purposefully positioning a mutual female friend in between as he cannot yet face his own sexuality. In the latter, he revisits the untouched, faded grandeur of the Art Deco bar at Denver’s Oxford Hotel for one last night as a young man before trying his luck in Germany, to see if Europe is a better fit.

Cementing the mid-point of the record are a pair of skittish, scholarly dance tunes, Best in Me and Rhetorical Figure. The latter is built in the lineage of his nascent electropop darlings, Devo, suggesting a formative world in which brains are regarded as horny as bodies. Dropping the pace, Just So You Know is the most familiar, John Grant-ian of his songs on the record. It is meant as a song to comfort his nearest and dearest after he’s gone. 

Childhood as a horror narrative returns on Dandy Star, observing the tiny Grant watching the Mia Farrow horror movie See No Evil on the old family TV set in which a blind girl arrives back at her Aunt and Uncle’s home after a date and, after sleeping through the night, awakens in the morning only to discover gradually that everyone has been murdered. 

These nine songs are the tumescent prologue to his grand climax. The pure smut of Your Portfolio imagines the US economy rewritten as a throbbing libidinous cock. “It’s where we are now in The States,” he says. “We worship money and any pretence that there’s any worship of anything else going on – like a loving God, for example – is just pathetic. Character doesn’t matter. Intimacy doesn’t matter. Nothing else matters. Wealth is sexualised. It’s a poem in honor of money. The song sounds funny, but I think it’s probably one of the darkest and most serious on the record.” 

In ‘The Only Baby’ he finally removes his razor blade from a pocket to cleanly slit the throat of Trump’s America, authoring a scathing epitaph to an era of acute national exposition. He positions the former president as the bastard child of the nation’s virgin mother: “Don’t look so glum/There’s no reason to be sad/Because that’s the only baby that bitch could ever have.” As a final coda, on Billy, he gets to the causation of all this, a prevalent culture of hyper-machismo, one which fashioned us all for failure.

In his own accidental, skewed manner, John Grant may just have nailed, if not the, then at least an American Dream. Bruised and scarred he may be, but the boy from Michigan is no weak-hearted fool.

John Grant UK and Ireland tour:

Saturday 4th September – Halifax – The Piece Hall

Monday 6th September – London – Alexandra Palace

Tuesday 7th September – London – Alexandra Palace **(SOLD-OUT!)**

Thursday 9th September – Glasgow – Barrowland Ballroom

Friday 10th September – Gateshead – Sage Gateshead

Saturday 11th September – Liverpool – Grand Central Hall

Tuesday 14th September – Sheffield – Octagon Centre

Wednesday 15th September – Nottingham – Rock City

Friday 17th September – Bexhill – De La Warr Pavilion

Thursday 30th September – Cambridge – Junction

Friday 1st October – Coventry – Warwick Arts Centre

Saturday 2nd October – Bath – The Forum

Sunday 3rd October – Manchester – RNCM Theatre **(SOLD-OUT!)**

Tuesday 5th October – Cardiff – New Theatre

Thursday 7th October – Belfast – St Anne’s Cathedral

Saturday 9th October – Dublin – National Concert Hall **(SOLD-OUT!)**

Tuesday 12th October – Cork – Live at St Luke’s

Wednesday 13th October – Cork – Live at St Luke’s **(SOLD-OUT!)**

Friday 15th October – Letterkenny – An Grianan Theatre

Saturday 16th October – Kilkenny – St Canice’s Cathedral

Lost Horizons & John Grant share ‘Cordelia’

Last month Lost Horizons announced news of their new album, In Quiet Moments, released 26th February 2021 via Bella Union, and shared a video for lead track ‘I Woke Up With An Open Heart’. Today the band share a very different track from the LP, a poignant and dreamlike collaboration with John Grant titled “Cordelia.”

Of the track Simon Raymonde of Lost Horizons says: “This was one of the last tracks recorded for the album, though it came from the ashes of one the first improv sessions Richie and I had. Listening back to what we started with, I jettisoned the drums and most of the guitars but salvaged a small part of it and turned it into something brand new. Then I had the amazing David Rothon -who I had seen play live with Marissa Nadler a few nights before – and long-time collaborator Fiona Brice add pedal steel and strings respectively. Sitting quietly in the studio with our spacey slice of instrumental swirl, I closed my eyes to imagine a voice. While much of his recent work involves synths and crunchy beats, how he magnificently handles cinematic melancholy in his own work, and specifically in the Scott Walker Prom for the BBC, I knew my dear friend John Grant would nail this. I hoped he might enjoy the freedom of creating some melodic magic alongside elegant emotional lyrics. I sent him the piece, aware that he is always so incredibly busy, and tried to keep my expectations low, in case he had to turn it down, but to my utter and continuing delight he said yes and I’ll have to admit to shedding a tear or two when he sent me back the completed vocal a few weeks later.”

John Grant adds: “I really loved doing this track with Simon. I’d had the idea for this song for a long time and when he sent me the instrumental, I immediately thought: ‘CORDELIA’ – so happy to have found such a beautiful home for this track!” 

In other news, Lost Horizons last week shared a remix of the track “I Woke Up With An Open heart” by On-U Sound founder and dub legend Adrian Sherwood. The remix is accompanied by a video created by Brighton visual artist “innerstrings” who worked with Lost Horizons on all of their 2017/18 touring doing live oil-based projections. Listen/watch HERE

The band have also announced news of a London live show at the Scala just over a year from now. More info HERE.

In Quiet Moments features a stellar array of musical guests including John Grant, C Duncan, Marissa Nadler, Porridge Radio, Penelope Isles, Karen Peris (the innocence mission), Tim Smith (Midlake), Ren Harvieu and many more. The 16-track album will be released in two sections. The first half (8 tracks) will be released digitally 4th December with the second half and physical release following on 26th February 2021.

In 2017, Simon Raymonde and Richie Thomas had both abstained from making music for 20 years until they united as Lost Horizons and released a stunning debut album, Ojalá – the Spanish word for “hopefully” or “God willing.” 

“These days, we need hope more than ever, for a better world.” Thomas said at the time. “And this album has given me a lot of hope. To reconnect with music…. And the hope for another Lost Horizons record!” 

Thomas’ hopes had a mixed response. On the plus side, the new Lost Horizons album In Quiet Moments is an even stronger successor to Ojalá with another distinguished cast of guest singers and a handful of supporting instrumentalists embellishing the core duo’s gorgeously free-flowing and loose-limbed blueprint that one writer astutely labelled, “melancholy-delia.” 

On the minus side, any hope for a better world, as Earth continues to freefall toward political and social meltdown. Then, to make matters worse, as Raymonde and Thomas buckled down to create the improvised bedrock that Lost Horizons is built on, the former’s mother died. At least Raymonde had a way to channel his grief. “The way improvisation works,” he says, “it’s just what’s going on with your body at the time, to let it out.”

Raymonde (bass, guitar, keyboards, production) and Thomas (drums, occasional keys and guitar) forged ahead, creating 16 instrumental tracks to send to prospective guests. When he did, Raymonde suggested a guiding theme for their lyrics: “Death and rebirth. Of loved ones, of ideals, at an age when many artists that have inspired us are also dead, and the planet isn’t far behind. But I also said, ‘The most important part is to just do your own thing, and have fun.” 

And then Covid-19 hit. Half of In Quiet Moments’ lyrics were written after lockdown, but Raymonde saw a silver lining: people were slowing down and taking stock of their lives. Hearing a lyric written by veteran singer Ural Thomas, known as “Portland’s Pillar of Soul”, who fronts the title track, Raymonde singled out the phrase “in quiet moments” and made it the album title. “It just made sense,” he says. “This moment of contemplation in life is really beautiful. The title also went with the album cover, a photograph by Jacques-Henri Lartigue from the 1940s of a woman and dog on a beach, captured as if in flight.” 

Lost Horizons’ melancholy-delia also feels buoyed aloft by airy currents, informed in part by Raymonde and Thomas’ former respective bands: the legendary Cocteau Twins and Dif Juz. Their former bands were labelmates on 4AD in the mid-80s, which is how they first met. 

In Quiet Moments has its pockets of loss but – aligned to the concept of ‘hope’ – the album is more about rebirth than death. “I think it’s more joyous than Ojalá,” says Thomas. “But both albums have a great energy about them.” 

Those energy levels undulate across a dazzling array of moods and voices; as broad as the name Lost Horizons sounds. Take the first three tracks: the melting rapture of ‘Halcyon’ featuring Jack Wolter of Bella Union signings Penelope Isles, the simmering urban-soulful ‘I Woke Up With An Open Heart’ featuring Nubiya Brandon of The Hempolics and the quintessentially melancholy-delic ‘Grey Tower’ featuring a returning Tim Smith . 

Also returning from Ojalá are Gemma Dunleavy, Karen Peris (the innocence mission), Cameron Neal (Horse Thief) and Marissa Nadler. The last three are all Bella Union family members; likewise, John Grant (the lush, choral ‘Cordelia’, etched by David Rothon’s pedal steel and Fiona Brice’s elegant strings) and Ren Harvieu (a sultry ‘Unravelling In Slow Motion’), and new signing Laura Groves (the jazz-tinged ‘Blue Soul’), all making their Lost Horizons debuts. 

Dana Margolin of the hugely acclaimed Porridge Radio lends the rampant ‘One For Regret’’ her trademark bristling energy; at the other end of the spectrum, ‘Flutter’ features Rosie Blair (of former Bella Union signing Ballet School) adding exquisite blue notes to a stark palate of Thomas’ piano and Fiona Brice’s strings. Deploying his A&R acumen, Raymonde called on new Swedish discovery Kavi Kwai for the Cocteaus-evoking ‘Every Beat That Passed’ (“You can’t make music for as long as I have and drop all your influences and habits overnight,” says Raymonde). Also present are Lily Wolter (of Penelope Isles) under her solo pseudonym KookieLou, and C Duncan. A richer and more varied cast list would be very hard to find. 

“I think In Quiet Moments is more in the direction of where we’re going,” Thomas concludes. “People have retreated into their lives and, in those quiet moments, reflected on the world, how we fit in and who we trust. Maybe the next album will be about rebellion! But the road is long and winding. We just need to express ourselves in how we feel at the time.”

Lost Horizons announce ‘In Quiet Moments’

Lost Horizons today announce news of their new album In Quiet Moments released via Bella Union and available to preorder here. The album features a stellar array of musical guests including John Grant, C Duncan, Marissa Nadler, Porridge Radio, Penelope Isles, Karen Peris (the innocence mission), Tim Smith (Midlake), Ren Harvieu and many more. The 16-track album will be released in two sections. The first half (8 tracks) will be released digitally 4th December with the second half and full physical release following on 26th February 2021. Lost Horizons have shared a video for first single “I Woke Up With An Open Heart”, directed by Blue Laybourne, which features The Hempolics.

https://youtu.be/tlbQyUO5QX0

In 2017, Simon Raymonde and Richie Thomas had both abstained from making music for 20 years until they united as Lost Horizons and released a stunning debut album, Ojalá – the Spanish word for “hopefully” or “God willing.” 

“These days, we need hope more than ever, for a better world.” Thomas said at the time. “And this album has given me a lot of hope. To reconnect with music…. And the hope for another Lost Horizons record!” 

Thomas’ hopes had a mixed response. On the plus side, the new Lost Horizons album In Quiet Moments is an even stronger successor to Ojalá with another distinguished cast of guest singers and a handful of supporting instrumentalists embellishing the core duo’s gorgeously free-flowing and loose-limbed blueprint that one writer astutely labelled, “melancholy-delia.” 

On the minus side, any hope for a better world, as Earth continues to freefall toward political and social meltdown. Then, to make matters worse, as Raymonde and Thomas buckled down to create the improvised bedrock that Lost Horizons is built on, the former’s mother died. At least Raymonde had a way to channel his grief. “The way improvisation works,” he says, “it’s just what’s going on with your body at the time, to let it out.” 

Raymonde (bass, guitar, keyboards, production) and Thomas (drums, occasional keys and guitar) forged ahead, creating 16 instrumental tracks to send to prospective guests. When he did, Raymonde suggested a guiding theme for their lyrics: “Death and rebirth. Of loved ones, of ideals, at an age when many artists that have inspired us are also dead, and the planet isn’t far behind. But I also said, ‘The most important part is to just do your own thing, and have fun.” 

And then Covid-19 hit. Half of In Quiet Moments’ lyrics were written after lockdown, but Raymonde saw a silver lining: people were slowing down and taking stock of their lives. Hearing a lyric written by veteran singer Ural Thomas, known as “Portland’s Pillar of Soul”, who fronts the title track, Raymonde singled out the phrase “in quiet moments” and made it the album title. “It just made sense,” he says. “This moment of contemplation in life is really beautiful. The title also went with the album cover, a photograph by Jacques-Henri Lartigue from the 1940s of a woman and dog on a beach, captured as if in flight.”

Lost Horizons’ melancholy-delia also feels buoyed aloft by airy currents, informed in part by Raymonde and Thomas’ former respective bands: the legendary Cocteau Twins and Dif Juz. Their former bands were labelmates on 4AD in the mid-80s, which is how they first met. 

In Quiet Moments has its pockets of loss but – aligned to the concept of ‘hope’ – the album is more about rebirth than death. “I think it’s more joyous than Ojalá,” says Thomas. “But both albums have a great energy about them.” 

Those energy levels undulate across a dazzling array of moods and voices; as broad as the name Lost Horizons sounds. Take the first three tracks: the melting rapture of ‘Halcyon’ featuring Jack Wolter of Bella Union signings Penelope Isles, the simmering urban-soulful ‘I Woke Up With An Open Heart’ featuring Nubiya Brandon of The Hempolics and the quintessentially melancholy-delic ‘Grey Tower’ featuring a returning Tim Smith . 

Also returning from Ojalá are Gemma Dunleavy, Karen Peris (the innocence mission), Cameron Neal (Horse Thief) and Marissa Nadler. The last three are all Bella Union family members; likewise, John Grant (the lush, choral ‘Cordelia’, etched by David Rothon’s pedal steel and Fiona Brice’s elegant strings) and Ren Harvieu (a sultry ‘Unravelling In Slow Motion’), and new signing Laura Groves (the jazz-tinged ‘Blue Soul’), all making their Lost Horizons debuts. 

Dana Margolin of the hugely acclaimed Porridge Radio lends the rampant ‘One For Regret’’ her trademark bristling energy; at the other end of the spectrum, ‘Flutter’ features Rosie Blair (of former Bella Union signing Ballet School) adding exquisite blue notes to a stark palate of Thomas’ piano and Fiona Brice’s strings. Deploying his A&R acumen, Raymonde called on new Swedish discovery Kavi Kwai for the Cocteaus-evoking ‘Every Beat That Passed’ (“You can’t make music for as long as I have and drop all your influences and habits overnight,” says Raymonde). Also present are Lily Wolter (of Penelope Isles) under her solo pseudonym KookieLou, and C Duncan. A richer and more varied cast list would be very hard to find. 

“I think In Quiet Moments is more in the direction of where we’re going,” Thomas concludes. “People have retreated into their lives and, in those quiet moments, reflected on the world, how we fit in and who we trust. Maybe the next album will be about rebellion! But the road is long and winding. We just need to express ourselves in how we feel at the time.”

In Quiet Moments will be released 26th February via Bella Union and is available to order HERE.

John Grant reschedules tour for 2021

Currently at work on a new studio album due for release next year, John Grant has announced news of his rescheduled UK and Ireland tour dates, with the shows moving to March and May 2021. All tickets for his previously scheduled 2020 shows are valid as before. News regarding the rescheduled Edinburgh show will follow soon. Dates/info below:

John Grant announces rescheduled piano shows

With his hugely-acclaimed debut album Queen Of Denmark having just achieved Silver status in the UK, John Grant has announced news of the rescheduled dates for his Spring piano tour, with the majority of dates moving to early September. For these shows Grant will be performing as a duo with his long-time musical partner Chris Pemberton, performing classics from across his career on just piano and keys. Grant’s recent sold-out Roundhouse show performing in this format was the subject of a rave 5 star review in The Times. Special guest on the tour will be Teddy Thompson for all dates except Coventry, while a rescheduled show in Bath will also be announced soon. 

*All previously purchased tickets remain valid for this tour.

John Grant announces 2020 tour dates

Following a successful year touring Love Is Magic, his critically-acclaimed fourth solo album, John Grant has today announced news of a May UK tour performing as a duo with his long-time piano player Chris Pemberton. For these dates Grant will be taking a stripped-back approach, performing classics from across his career on just piano and keys. The tour also marks the ten year anniversary of his celebrated debut solo LP Queen Of Denmark. Ahead of the ten dates in May Grant also has two recently announced London and Brighton shows performing in the same format, both of which have long since sold out.