Meilyr Jones – The Cookie – October 7th 2016

It’s something of a travesty that Meilyr Jones has not been the featured artist on Sonic Breakfast before. I can’t exactly work out why that is.

I first saw him play live at the fab Port Eliot festival in 2015. My eFestivals review of that can be found here. Essentially, I note that “I sit in the front row of two as Meilyr, slightly nervously, marks out his star quality for all to see. It’s just him behind a keyboard for this set and it’s another Port Eliot musical moment of which there are many.”

Later in that same summer, I see the gentle giant at Festival No. 6 (review here). Within that review, I say that, “Huw Stephens could probably have redeemed himself if he had mentioned Meilyr Jones after Catfish and the Bottlemen. I’d previously seen Meilyr do a solo set at another festival and so realised that his songs and intensity of performance mark him out as one for the future. With a full band, the impact is even greater. Sitting somewhere between Pulp and Orange Juice, Meilyr captivates all who watch him at the Estuary stage. There’s a swimming/paddling pool in this small arena that looks out to sea. It’ll be hard to keep up with this Jones.

This year, I saw him again at Port Eliot. My comments then dispatch even more praise – “Last year, the wonderful Meilyr Jones played a solo set in front of four punters (I was one) and the girls from Stealing Sheep. This year, the ‘Caught By The River’ tent is packed out for a full band performance. It’s joyful, uplifting and theatrical, delivered by a frontman with astonishing grace and style.

So – the point I’m making is that I’m quite impressed by Meilyr. Throw in the fact that his debut album, 2013, will certainly be in my top three for this year and it’s quite an omission to have not written about him to date on Sonic Breakfast. 

On Friday night, I saw him play in Leicester at the Cookie. I was expecting this to be a packed out show but double bookings led to some confusion as to whether he was playing or not. The room might have only been half full but Meilyr and band didn’t seem at all phased. In fact, they used it to their advantage.

There’s something angelic and choral about Meilyr when he stands tall, hands behind his back and produces the sweetest of sound. When he ditches the microphone and stands amidst the crowd to sing, there’s a hushed awe in the room. This is astonishing stuff. Every time that I’ve seen him live something new is added into the mix. Effortlessly, he’s able to work with his surrounds to make the greatest of impressions. 

The tour continues. You really should get a glimpse of this gentleman whilst you still can. 

 

 

 

Seafret – Tell Me It’s Real

 

I first became aware of Seafret at Festival No. 6 last year. I was reviewing at this wonderful festival, set in the architectural delight of Portmeirion (review here) for eFestivals. I kept getting sent invites to extra curricular things that I could indulge in.

One of these things was a special press invite to the Nespresso construction on site. I would be treated to coffee cocktails and canapés concocted by an award winning barman/drinks chef whilst being entertained by some live music. For the sake of journalistic investigation, I put aside my moral and political objections to Nescafé for an hour or two. 

As the midday sun beat down upon us, we reclined on comfy garden furniture, elevated from punters below, whilst the two members of Seafret, Jack and Harry, played us acoustic versions of their tunes and answered questions that we fired at them. I put aside an overwhelming desire to ask about ‘celebrity lookalikes’ (lead singer, Jack, has incredible hair that’s in the same spectrum as Sideshow Bob) and instead asked about secrets of songwriting, dreams and influences. 

Jack and Harry proved themselves to be decent, affable, young chaps from the North East. They had a gentle, positive ambition which shone bright like the sun above. The fact that the amplification provided by Nespresso was barely fit for purpose didn’t phase them. These were songs about love that screamed ‘Radio 2 hit’. I went and saw their full band set an hour later. 

Seafret’s first album, ‘Tell Me It’s Real’, comes out next week. It’s not an album that’s going to get raved about for pushing the boundaries of art but it is an album choc-a-bloc with solid songwriting, powerful husk-fuelled vocals and tunes that build from acoustic shuffles into fully blown epics. Those who like their lyrics obscure or their melodies random might level accusations of bland cliche at Seafret but I’m sure they’re big enough to ride such criticism. 

As befits a band from the North East named after a sea mist, the influence of the coast permeates within many of the songs. In ‘Oceans’ (rhymed with emotions), the sea gently crashes into the shore as Jack agonises that it ‘feels like there’s oceans between you and me’. My favourite tune that they played at Festival No. 6 was ‘Skimming Stones’. Here they are on a rocky coastline ‘like a skimming stone, waiting to be thrown back to you’. Elsewhere, they draw on the legend of ‘Atlantis’, comparing the mythical sea-based city to the state of their relationship. Their folk-based origins come to the fore in ‘To The Sea’, a song that Jack sings in duet with the seductive voice of Rosie Carney. ‘Do you think of me when you look to the sea?’ they sing in an elevated, passionate state. 

‘Tell Me It’s Real’ is an album full of love songs. Some of the songs are sung to distant, long-lost lovers whilst others are much more for the here and now. If you’re ideal of happiness is keeping warm around a late night log fire, entwined in the limbs of the love of your life, then I’d bet you a coffee cocktail that you’d love this particular record.