James Auger is the man behind A Choir of Ghosts. A Brit who has chosen to live in Sweden, he writes intense alt-folk tunes about the wilderness, Scandinavian forests and the human lot. He’s pretty good at it.
James will be releasing a few tunes and videos during 2021 (on Greywood Records) but, this morning, Sonic Breakfast brings it back to a song that was released in the build up to Christmas 2020, ‘Skin & Bones.’
Sometimes, the video is enough and in this gem with its fire, spirit of adventure, log cabins and beautiful surrounds, I’m sure there’s much escapism to be had. We’re all grappling on whether we’d be breaking lockdown rules if we go on a walk to the local nature reserve and so here, Sonic Breakfast brings scenery and being able to wash your face in icy lakes straight to your door. It’s perhaps best to overlook the sinister chase scenes and ritualistic dances at the end of the video though if you’re in this just for a getaway.
“The song is about the realization that you can’t always “fix it” for the people you love.“, says James about ‘ Skin & Bones’. “Sometimes they have to solve it themselves, and you can’t do anything but watch and hope for the best. In order for things to grow to it’s full potential, you sometimes have to let go.”
I know that friends of mine have often had to bite their tongues when they see me taking unwise paths. I thank them for giving me that freedom and acknowledge that my stubbornness in pursuing my own things must be frustrating. And I also know that I’m one of the first to pass comment on the direction that others are taking. With the very best of intentions, I think I’m helping when I’m likely not.
Tuesday is a day to let it go with A Choir Of Ghosts as your breakfast soundtrack.
I’m still in Spain. I wasn’t really planning to spend this long over here when I left Blighty back in July. But the virus is raging and I’m now not there for Autumn back home. I have no qualms about missing the most miserable of seasons. Waking every day to bright blue skies here more than makes up for that disappointment.
That’s not to say that it’s all sunshine and laughter over here. There’s a new chill in the air that gets positively biting at night. With no central heating and porous walls, this villa feels the cold more than your standard terrace back in the UK. Tonight, I loaded the fire with wood from the garden and kept myself warm by prodding and poking away at the twigs as the flames flew up the flue.
Fireside joy (and it is captivating to watch the flames tell their tales as they create their crackles) needs a solid sort of music; for me, you can’t beat a strong dose of acoustic folk when the orange hue is raging. The lyric has to be right; you don’t want a morose, break-up tune or, god forbid, a murder ballad right now. Such songs are better suited to the gently glowing, dying embers at the aftermath. This moment calls for declarations of love that has lasted the distance.
And that’s what you get in Lover Boy from Jonathan Levy. Our hair might be falling out or changing colour and our bodies have most definitely gained a few pounds but we’ve got each other as a constant. This is a tune about stability, about growing old gracefully and fanning the flames of love.
Jonathan delivers the acoustic ballad (that builds with cinematic flourish) impeccably. Think of the Beatles at their most romantic crossed with Elvis Costello minus the gravelly voice and insane wordplay and you might be in Jonathan’s ballpark. His vocal goes semi-falsetto during the sweet chorus – there’s more than a tinge of Ben Folds in the tone though Jonathan uses guitar rather than piano as his primary instrument.
The logs burn. The duvet beckons. It’s going to be a cold night. I settle and smile as the consistency takes hold and the future maps out.
Part of my reason for wanting to see Blue Rose Code at Leicester’s Cookie last week was that the support acts were so top-notch.
I forgot that gigs start (and finish) a tad earlier at the Cookie than they do at other venues in town (step forward The Musician) so managed to miss half of the set from Sophia Marshall. But in the four tunes that I did see I knew that a Sonic Breakfast post was long overdue.
Back in the days when I first moved to Leicester, The HaveNots were the talk of the town. Liam and Sophie were Leicester’s great Americana hope. Friends and I listened avidly to Bob Harris’ Radio 2 show in the hope that their classy cuts of love-swept Alt-country got an airing. It was hard to miss them around the city, especially if, like me, you were a regular gig goer down at the Musician.
I saw the HaveNots play outside of Leicester as well. Ollie, my son, was seven when we headed down to Larmer Tree in North Dorset for his first ever festival. We both watched, sat in a packed-out tent, as Liam and Sophie charmed all gathered. Liam made reference to Ollie from the stage, how it was his first festival and how exciting it must have been for a young lad of seven. Ollie’s now touching twenty-one. The years have flown.
(Click on page 2 to be bought bang up to date)