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Welsh artist brings brave and beautiful poetry to the mainstream with anthemic new single

06 Jul 2024 7 minute read
Still from Jack’s debut solo, Breathe

Stephen Price

A talented Welsh poet is making waves across UK radio stations with an anthemic new single detailing his mental health struggles – set against a backdrop of ‘banging and beautiful’ urban production.

Jack Jones recently released his hard-hitting contemporary poetry track, Breathe – finding an instant fan in Huw Stephens, who gave the powerful song its debut on his BBC6 Music show.

The track is taken from Jack’s debut solo album ‘Jack Jones’ released on 20 September, followed by a UK headline tour in November.

Much like the first Specials album at the turn of the 1980s, you can imagine ‘Jack Jones’ being important to youngsters trying to navigate the problems of today – many of whom will feel less alone thanks to his candid lyrics detailing ongoing struggles with his mental health.

Jack Jones has already enjoyed Top 10 success with Trampolene on the Independent Album Charts with three Top 10 Albums, hit the road as special guest to Liam Gallagher at the personal request of the iconic frontman, supported The Libertines on an Arena Tour as ‘Tour Poet’ and had the honour of being the first act to headline Swansea Arena.

Innovation

For this album, Jack put away his guitar and embraced a fresh and contemporary sound, bringing to life his hard-hitting state of the nation poems of existential fear and loathing.

His lyrics tackle many of today’s burning issues: mental health, drug addiction, mortality, and the tortuous demands of technology, but there’s also joy and hope in there.

With some of his catchiest tunes so far, it’s a record that’ll both open up this natural-born star to untapped audiences, and reveal hidden depths to those already ‘on the team’.

Jack Jones. Credit: Daniel Quesada

Speaking about Breathe, Jack said:  “I’m sure we all try to slay the beast, conquer the madman and feed the angel living inside us. But I think you can only abuse the body and the mind for so long before it says “No More!” And it humbles you.

“That’s when you have to make a choice. Is it the end or the beginning? The idea of this song was written after my first panic attack – at a time when I didn’t care about having a career in music or even being a writer anymore, I just prayed to be okay and to make it through the day.

“Luckily, sometimes, out of the darkest places, glimmers can appear, and that’s what this song is…a chapter of resilience, finding a way to keep going, finding a way to believe in a future, finding a way to breathe. It saved me and I would hope it may help others too.”

“Freeing”

For the Breathe video, Jack decided to go into training to be the first Welsh astronaut, his trip to the moon (in his head) is planned for the first half of the 21st Century. The video was directed by filmmaker Barnaby Fairley.

Jack said: “Who wouldn’t want to roam the streets of London in a space suit…it felt weirdly freeing.”

Jack Jones. Credit: Daniel Quesada

The album will be available on vinyl in multiple colour formats, CD and digital download and was co-written, produced and mixed by Adam French.

Also available will be Jack Jones’s new book ‘Tour Diaries’ Volume 1 featuring Jack’s time with Trampolene, The Libertines and Peter Doherty & The Puta Madres.

Compulsion

Jack Jones is a compulsive wordsmith, an obsessive jotter-down of phrases, and weird things that people say. Across three studio albums and a hatful of singles and EPs since 2013, his work with Trampolene has always drawn from this humungous, ever-accumulating verbal resource. On his own, he has also published a novel (2023’s ‘Swansea to Hornsey’) and recited poems and delivered spoken-word onstage.

The new direction arose out of an introduction to Mancunian artist/producer/songwriter/laptop warrior Adam French. For Jones, French’s way of composing and recording was like being teleported into a parallel dimension.

We spoke to Jack on the launch of Breathe to find out more about the uplifting new track, his influences and what to expect from the highly anticipated new album.

What got you into poetry?

“Dylan Thomas was the one that tweaked my imagination, being a local lad from Swansea he was taught at my school so I knew of him at a very early age.

“And through him and the other Dylan (Bob) it helped me to become a better lyricist.”

Poetry is embedded in Welsh culture, but there’s been a lack of the form hitting the mainstream over the past few decades – any thoughts on that?

“I think most people maybe don’t see that poetry is everywhere you look and in everything you do, like me, they probably had a teacher covering their work in red pen and making them feel like this world wasn’t for them…but it is for you and is for everyone…

“You just gotta find what you love and write it to death… my themes are just my life I suppose… and how I make it through it.”

It’s refreshing to hear your real accent on your releases – was it a conscious decision to stand firm on that?

“I love my accent and most regional accents, I think it gives things more character and also I couldn’t do it any other way, sounded fake.”

Jack Jones. Credit: Daniel Quesada

Tell us about your influences for the single and upcoming album

“The Streets, Baxter Dury, Sleaford Mods and some rave dance music… we banned guitars from the studio, which put me right out of my comfort zone and we went from there.”

The fusion of innovative production with your poetry is very powerful 

“Thanks. No one was more surprised than me as to how it all turned out.

“I really enjoyed the experience as it was so different to what I do with Trampolene musically and to try and do something more contemporary was a joy.”

The video looks like it was a lot of fun – tell us more about it.

“Crikey, I was sweating so much I thought I might evaporate.

“Next time someone asks me to walk around central London in a space suit while there’s a heatwave…I might have to show them two fingers.

“I actually really enjoyed it and thought about wearing it onstage…it was amazing that so many people were staring and I was in my own little bubble.”

What can we expect from the new album?

“Just ramblings from diaries over banging tunes and beautiful melodies.

“Something for everyone and for every mood.”

Excited to head out on tour?

“Yeah…but a bit nervous as it’s so different.. I’m still planning how I’m going to do it.

“It’s a strange thing to get my head around…the songs sound huge and I want to do them justice…

“I can’t wait for them to be out there in the world and for people to hear them and hopefully sing along.”

Upcoming live shows from Jack Jones

Live shows

To coincide with the release, Jack has announced the following live shows in November, following an acclaimed performance at Glastonbury.

Tickets for the November tour are on presale now  and go on general sale on Friday 14th June at 10am: https://found.ee/JackJonesTour

The full dates are:

2 Nov:  Glasgow – The Poetry Club SWG3

3 Nov: Liverpool – Jacaranda

6 Nov: North Shields – Three Tanners Bank

7 Nov:  Manchester – YES Basement

8 Nov:  Cambridge – The Six Six Bar

9 Nov: Shrewsbury – Albert & Co Frankville

13 Nov: Bristol – The Exchange

14 Nov: London – Old Blue Last

15 Nov: Swansea – Bunkhouse

16 Nov:  Cardiff – The Moon

Jack also plays the following shows over the summer with Trampolene: City Summer by the River in London (15 August) , Y Festival in Ross On Wye (25 August) and Fairwood Festival in Gower (7 September).

Stream Breathe here.

Pre-order Jack’s forthcoming album here: https://found.ee/JackJonesALBUM


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