I have been deeply entrenched in a new album by an artist that is also new, new to me, that is. The artist is Jonny Woolnough, and the album is his solo effort, ‘Mayurqa,’ released November 19th via Mönch Records
The vast majority of albums that I blog about are of a type that allows me to write about them as I listen to the songs. There are a few lovely exceptions to this pattern, such as the blog previous to this one, “Travelling With Alexander Hulme.” You ought to listen to that one as well as this album from Jonny Woolnough.
Jonny took an indefinite break from making music after forming the critically acclaimed bands Tomartyrs and The Bazaars and touring guitarist for Finley Quaye. He and his girlfriend had quit their jobs and moved to Mallorca for family reasons, and it had been a few years since he’d left the world of music. In Mallorca, all he had was his Martin 000-18 acoustic guitar, a mac laptop, and a couple of mics.
Jonny tells us, “I would look after my son for most of the day, and in the evenings, when I had put him to sleep, I would sit and craft the songs, recording demos as I went. Lyrics would drip through from long walks along the Paseo Maritimo overlooking the choppy Winter Balearic seas or climbing the Tramontana mountains high above the island. At times, I became so close to its nature and heartbeat that I almost saw it as a living, breathing being. My imaginary friend, Mallorca.”
I feel that this album captures a great deal of that magical inspiration and translates it through his trusty guitar, voice and various inspired musical elements.
Jonny Woolnough sings in a smooth, controlled manner that exudes confidence and passion. The time he spent away from the hustle and bustle of the primal big music environment gave him a fresh approach to how he created and delivered the words and music that tell us about the people and places that inspired him.
Is that not the nature of songs and music? They convey to others what we have seen, heard and felt. Jonny Woolnough has taken that inspiration, and he has created a beautiful piece of art. We do not hang this piece of art on a wall in our homes or set it on an end table for others to view unless you are particularly enamoured with the album artwork. It is pretty lovely.
The art that I speak of is to be played and heard. It should be allowed to soak into our brains and savour like a fine wine; this is not fast food or elevator music. Mayurqa is an album that needs the time and space to unfurl and display the inner beauty at its heart.
Listen to the words of Mayurqa with intent. Try to hear what Jonny Woolnough is telling us through the lyrics of his songs. These musical pieces of art will hang on the walls of a room created in our souls. There will be a sign on the door that says, “Welcome to Mayurqa, my friends, come in and sit a spell.” We shall have an enjoyable time together, Jonny Woolnough and I, with perhaps a person of significance that we can share a bottle of wine and our journey to Mayurqa.
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