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Harry Stafford – Photo courtesy of Harry Stafford
Several months ago, ahead of the release of his new album Gothic Urban Blues, we introduced you to Manchester-based blues rock artist Harry Stafford’ with the premiere of his single ‘She Just Blew Me Away.’
Now that the long-play has just been released, we are thrilled to present you his new video for ‘Black Rain’, a song written by Phil Shoenfelt with an impressive rendition by this seasoned player of players. The accompanying short film was created by Stafford himself, giving a small but impactful glimpse into his new bouquet of storyline-narrated offerings. Gothic Urban Blues 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. As Stafford notes, “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, this album was co-produced by Archer and Harry Stafford and was Inspired by the musings of such jazz and blues stalwarts as Mose Allison and Hoagy Carmichael. The new album features a more defined sound of a band finding its stride.
One of Manchester’s most intriguing artists still performing today, Harry Stafford is best known as founder, guitarist and vocalist of 80s post-punk gothic rockers Inca Babies, who released four albums, multiple singles and Peel sessions. After 35 years with Inca Babies, Stafford decided to release untamed solo material echoing his love of blues piano and barroom ballads.
His band Guitar Shaped Hammers includes drummer Rob Haynes (The Membranes, Inca Babies), trumpeter Kevin Davy (Lamb, Cymande), guitarist Andy Mills, and Vincent O’Brien on Weisseborn slide guitar.
The new album 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.
“It was important to reassemble these musicians again as there was a lot of ground we hadn’t covered. I had about fourteen songs and selected ten to be on the record. They were songs I had been playing around the bars of Manchester in order to hone into a neat arrangement,” says Harry Stafford.
“I rehearsed with Rob and Vincent and we laid down a foundation, allowing Nick and Kevin to add their unique elements. Their parts were there to compete and yet complement each other. Kevin is a hugely in-demand jazz musician, who graces the funk of Cymande and the smooth grooves of Lamb, not to mention his jazz workshops in London. I wanted Kevin to radiate his love of Miles Davis and send a wave of goosebumps and steely soul through the spine of this sound. Nick, with a guitar born of jagged punk and sinister drones, was to create a brittle edge to balance the beauty.”
The Gothic Urban Blues LP is now available everywhere, including iTunes and Spotify. It can be pre-ordered on vinyl and CD via the artist’s Bandcamp (the physical release will occur closer to summer).
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
Enjoy the full Gothic Urban Blues album here:
And here’s some insight into the making of the album:
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