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JASON MCNIFF

Jason McNiff

Dust Of Yesterday

    Songwriter and fingerstyle guitarist, Jason McNiff releases his 7th full length album, Dust Of Yesterday. Produced and engineered by Roger Askew (Joe Strummer, Wilko Johnson, Christy Moore) the album was recorded throughout the summer and autumn of 2020 in Roger's home studio in Eastbourne, UK. It features McNiff's signature acoustic guitar work throughout with significant contributions from Beth Porter (of Eliza Carthy's band) on cello and Basia Bartz (most London based folk bands) on violin.

    His first album since leaving London - McNiff is now based in Hastings - Dust of Yesterday is an elegy on moving away from a beloved place and a lament for lost youth. We are treated to a musical tour of McNiff's life to date, from his 8-year residency as a Flamenco guitarist in a Spanish bar in Waterloo (Damaged Woman) to hopping the northbound train from King's Cross, hiding in the lavatory up to Nottingham (A Load Along). All the songs on Dust of Yesterday, in one way or another, speak of the past. But it is not bleary-eyed nostalgia.

    "I read somewhere that it is possible to literally change the past and I became very interested in this idea. It so happened around the same time that I discovered the Greek/Egyptian poet, Cavafy. In his poems he would talk about the past, but the memory is not a thing of the past, but something that is still part of him in the present. I could relate to that. "

    Musically, Jason is influenced by the British acoustic guitarists (Jansch, Graham, Wizz Jones) and the great folk/rock troubadours of the 60s and 70s. He loves Mark Knopfler in the early days; the English teacher turned reluctant rock star, singing about Leeds and Newcastle and sounding like JJ Cale. For McNiff, the lyrics are central, and he has been especially captivated by those considered poets and writers as well as musicians. He loves literature and cites Hemingway, Chekhov and the aforementioned Cavafy, as major influences in his work. ( He has 'translated' Hemingway's 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' into a song on a previous album, 'Nobody's Son')

    Jason McNiff was born in Bradford, Yorkshire in 1974 to an Irish father and Polish mother. Academically gifted, he did well at school and went to the University of Nottingham to study French and Russian. He fell in with the Folk & Blues scene in that city before moving to London in the mid-nineties to do another degree in English Lit. He was just in time to catch the Bert Jansch residency at the 12 Bar club. For 6 months, every Wednesday night, McNiff would be in the front row of Soho's tiny club learning fingerstyle from the master. He would later sign his first record deal with Snowstorm Records, a label run by Bert's brother-in-law and found himself opening for Bert on numerous occasions. 


    STAFF COMMENTS

    says: This wonderful collection shines with the sort of understated beauty and accomplished but uncomplicated melodic phrasing you'd hear in a Jansch record, but brought to the modern day with unhurried production and brittle, tender vocals. Beautiful.

    TRACK LISTING

    1) For The First Time
    2) Try For The Sky
    3) Wherever I Choose
    4) Mary Jane
    5) Dust Of Yesterday
    6) Tom
    7) If You Could See Me Now
    8) Damaged Woman
    9) A Load Along

    Rain Dries Your Eyes is a new double CD retrospective anthology of the best of singer-songwriter Jason McNiff. Spanning more than 15 years and including brand new tracks, previously unreleased material and songs from his six studio albums, the collection showcases his fragile, wistful and timeless blend of blues and folk. A modern day troubadour, McNiff started recording in the early 00s, but he has a sound that harks back to the great folk rock pioneers of the late 60s/early 70s.

    Jason McNiff is a London based Yorkshireman of Irish and Polish descent. With nods to Bob Dylan and the Band, Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and Wizz Jones, McNiff is often touted as one of the UK's most precious musical treasures – a great songwriter and top-notch finger-style guitarist. His 2011 album, April Cruel (Fledg’ling Records) was nominated for best album in the alt-country category at the Independent Music Awards in the US.

    Off The Rails was McNiff’s 2000 debut, which was produced by Andy Allen of the Hank Dogs (who was one time bass player with the Sex Pistols for their “Silly Thing” single). The album was recorded in a closing down tape studio in Wandsworth and engineered by Alun Lane, and also featured Geoff Spence on drums, who McNiff met whilst studying at Nottingham University; “Nearly 30 years my senior, he'd lived through an era I could only imagine through records… We did many gigs together, but it was the endless hours spent talking and thinking about music that was the most valuable time.”

    The 2003 follow-up, Nobody’s Son, maintained McNiff’s signature sound but included contributions from members of both the Hank Dogs and South London country rockers Grand Drive. The title track has been reworked for this collection and features guest vocals from London-based Italian folk singer Emma Tricca, with whom Jason as collaborated as the duo Tricca McNiff (whose album Southern Star was released in 2016).

    For his third album Another Man (Wonky Atlas in 2006), McNiff wanted to have a band so he put together a crack team of Steve Brooks (Ahab, Danny & the Champs) on drums, Graham Knight (Simple Kid, Ahab, Orphan Colours) on bass, and Andy Drummond on Organ. It was recorded live in the room of another soon-to-be-closed studio, this time in Bath, Somerset.

    In 2008, McNiff was anthologised on In My Time, which featured material from all three of his previous albums, along with a few newly recorded tracks. The album also featured Simon J Alpin of Willard Grant Conspiracy on lap steel on “Pilgrim Soul”.

    April Cruel, his 2011 album, was McNiff’s first to be recorded at Bark Studios in Walthamstow by Brian O'Shaughnessey – he has since returned many times. The track “Kissing the Wind” features Fryda, an instrumental duo from Italy.

    His 2014 album God Knows Why We Dream features the song “Heart of A Poet” on which he plays a hand-made Vicente Sanchis A 2 Spanish guitar, which he used in his job as resident flamenco guitarist at a Spanish restaurant in Waterloo.

    The new songs on the album include “Cairo” (which is a new song from an old idea using a Rob Armstrong guitar in open D tuning), “Sun Comes Up”, “Marry Him” (featuring Garry Smith on Dobro) and “Sicily” (written after touring round Sicily with his Dad as the tour manager).

    For all his talent for lyricism and effortlessness as a songwriter, McNiff has also shown his adeptness as a musician by way of cover versions, as demonstrated by the exclusive download-only version of Jackson C Frank’s “Blues Run the Game” with the digital release. Weaving inspiration from classic American songsmiths with strong roots in English folk, McNiff serves up astutely arranged ballads imbued with warmth and beautifully crafted imagery.

    “McNiff’s quiet, intimate, fragile-sounding vocals draw you into his world – an almost timeless place, through which he drifts, a romantic loner, a dreamer, at home with the blues.” Time Out.

    TRACK LISTING

    CD1:
    1) Off The Rails
    2) Woody's Annie Hall
    3) Southbound Train
    4) I Remember You
    5) Another Man
    6) Blow Up The Bridge
    7) Hang On To Your Woman
    8) Kissing In The Wind
    9) Summertime In Soho
    10) Marry Him
    11) Nobody's Son *featuring Emma Tricca
    12) Adieu To Lausanne
    13) Students Of Love
    14) New York
    15) Hat
    16) Journey Home

    CD2:
    1) In Our Time
    2) Hills Of Rome
    3) Green
    4) A Different Word
    5) All Around America
    6) Tombola
    7) Delia
    8) Sun Comes Up
    9) Coming Back To Life
    10) Game Over
    11) Heart Of A Poet
    12) Bus Of Tears
    13) Pilgrim Soul
    14) The Picture
    15) Sicily
    16) Weeping Willows Weep
    17) Cairo (Stuck In The Past) 


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