Looking at Tumblr for 3 years has taught me that the world is full of amazing artworks by excellent living artists, almost none of whom find their work in major municipal galleries and very few in private ones. Things from the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, yes, but since then, very little. What is wrong with our curators and gallery owners? Why are they buying and selling such dull rubbish? Could we not perhaps, enhance this world?
There are some folk I know, that on hearing certain of Leonard Cohen’s later works, have said “I wish I could hear that song just with a guitar”, preferring the arrangements to be stripped away, especially any electronics, to reveal Leonard’s usual guitar “chops”. There may be some who feel this way about Philip Jeays (although I’m not one of them), as all he really needs to excel is an acoustic guitar, a chair to rest said instrument on his knee and his exceptional voice and lyrics. For those people and anyone who likes seeing an artist sketch book or a poets notepad, or songs stripped down, this album is a downloadable steal at £5.
"The Bunjies test" refers to the now defunct acoustic music cellar in central London where some of the greatest and influential songwriters the city has seen took to it’s shallow stage. It has seen the boots of every one from 60’s Donovan to 90’s punk wordsmith John Cooper Clark and of course, Philip Jeays.
And so, we have this “crowdfunder” type album of 10 songs to raise money for Philip’s eighth, full, studio album. Don’t be afraid that it is half finished, as it is packed with ten fully crafted songs. The soaring emotional voice that for some of us has become so familiar, haunts as ever, Autumn skies from a rescued suicidal lover at Waterloo to distant “Eric Rohmer” summer loves on French coastlines. This album is what New Yorkers I know seem to call “adult alternative” in style, ranging from loungy love songs to what we know and think of as the traditional left leaning French chanson.
Jeays laments of loves lost as he envisages being old and looking out of a high window on oh so English seasons past ”….I could have been someone better, or just someone better cast but folding time has creases, that hold us to it’s past….” which all take place against the idiocy of world events, and the spin of shalllow artists, politicians and religious bigots laid bare in the eyes of a troubled child in the song “The age of the naked emperors” .
The British elite and their self-serving life moving from quadrangle to quadrangle selling off the nations silver and treating the people as wage slaves come in for a heartfelt tongue lashing in another song “…they say that inequality motivates the poor, you have to give them less if you want them to soar, yet to motivate the rich somehow - you have to give them more…..” but the real targets of this frustrated song are the fools that go along with the whole scheme and allow the divide and rule tactics to succeed by voting selfishly.
I’ll say little more and let you explore, all in all this is Philip Jeays album, with all the self deprecating humor, wit and wisdom you’d expect. Seek out his website if you don’t already know him, and give songs like Arles and the Great War a quick listen, if you like what you hear, then join in on this project if you can and keep this show on the road. Steev Burgess