Manchester's Harry Stafford presents new single 'Gothic Urban Blues' + 2 films in support of new LP
"Stafford’s new output is a welcome addition to our listening palette and recommended to fans of blues and raw honest independent music alike – this is gutsy and relevant with a high level of production thanks to legendary sound engineer Ding Archer" – The Spill Magazine
"Rural blues staggard swagger... An almost quirky blend of gritty guitar and raspy horns underlying slightly gritty vocal stylings... a dark stompy serenade for the disenchanted" – Jammerzine
"Winds with assured ease, stepping with a staccato pace and cut with sharply angular guitars. The horns add a warm blast to a cool track that features Stafford’s (dis)passionate vocal exclamations... This is actual, this is relatable, this is great music" – The Big Takeover
"Piano-based blues music along with evocative urban goth storytelling that brings to mind everyone from Nick Cave to Gavin Friday. His sneaky precision on “She Blew Me Away” suggests the Blue Valentine period of Tom Waits" – Stereo Embers Magazine
Manchester-based indie music stalwart Harry Stafford presents his new single 'Gothic Urban Blues', the title track from his new album, as well as a moody accompanying video reflecting the vibe of this blues-rock lament for the city.
He also presents a short film for 'Black Rain', a song written by Phil Shoenfelt, with video that fittingly captures the track's mood, as well as offering insight into his new record in a new video offering intriguing track-by-track commentary on the 'Gothic Urban Blues' LP.
Title track 'Gothic Urban Blues' is the soundtrack to the unrelenting pain, pressure and pleasure of the naked city. "Take me to the top of the Gothic heights; take me to the breathless altitude tower..."
The album itself is about the Metropolis, the naked city, the urban sprawl and the need to get back to the ripped back streets when you’re far away. If there are a million stories in the naked city, here are a few to keep you warm.
Mixed and engineered by Ding Archer (The Fall, PJ Harvey) at his 6Db Studio in Salford, it was co-produced by Archer and Harry Stafford and inspired by the musings of such jazz and blues kings as Mose Allison and Hoagy Carmichael.
This album was previewed by singles 'She Just Blew Me Away' and 'Painted Ocean', a smokey, barroom piano-blues lament that is “a message that riffs on a sublime ‘painted’ ocean, which, while once was a heaving beautiful living thing, is now a dump!”.
"Gothic Urban Blues: This is the city viewed from a futuristic hover car or spaceship or obscure superhero. We have sprouted wings and become unclassifiable creatures or obdurate squabbling angels and daemons swooping between the towers and looking down at the insects below," says Harry Stafford.
"It’s also a groove on city life and walking in the traffic and the noise and the people. Something we won’t be doing for a few weeks yet. Everyone’s shouting silently at each other afraid to be noticed afraid to be invisible."
Harry Stafford is best known as founder, guitarist and vocalist of post-punk gothic rockers Inca Babies. His band Guitar Shaped Hammers includes drummer Rob Haynes (The Membranes, Inca Babies), trumpeter Kevin Davy (Lamb, Cymande), guitarist Nick Brown (The Membranes) and Vincent O'Brien on Weisseborn slide guitar.
Formed in the early 1980s, Inca Babies released four albums and multiple singles and Peel sessions. Much of his musical career has been spent with Inca Babies, playing across Europe and the world but in 2015, after 35 years with Inca Babies, Stafford decided to release untamed solo material that echoes his love of blues piano and barroom ballads.
'Gothic Urban Blues' and debut solo album 'Guitar Shaped Hammers' (2017) are the inevitable result, reflecting a multitude of ideas around a driving yet lilting punk-piano blues. The idea was for Stafford to leave his noisy electric guitar behind - abandoning everything he held and cherished - to make some new music with a piano and a head full of ideas.
The new album features a more defined sound of a band finding its stride. The band is hereforth called Guitar Shaped Hammers to reflect this cohesion of musical unity - with more guitars from Vincent O'Brien, and an additional layered sonic blast from Nick Brown (The Membranes). With intense percussion from Rob Haynes and a truly masterful trumpet contribution from jazz supremo Kevin Davy, the result is very much the soundtrack of a basement radio station stumbling across a new genre they’ve tagged Gothic Urban Blues.
The 'Gothic Urban Blues' single is out on May 15. The full album is available everywhere, including iTunes and Spotify, and can now be ordered on vinyl and CD via Bandcamp.
Harry Stafford: Piano, keys, guitar and vocals
Rob Haynes: Drums, percussion
Vincent O'Brien: Slide guitar, lap blues slide and guitar
Nick Brown: bass and guitar
Kevin Davy: Horns
Written by Harry Stafford
Mixed and engineered by Ding Archer at 6Db Studio
Produced by Ding Archer and Harry Stafford
Mastered by Stephan at Oxygene Music
Released by Black Lagoon Records through Cargo UK BLRCD/LP0054
Cover photos by Richard Davis. Other photos by Harry Stafford