John Fairhurst ‘Hungry Blues EP’
John Fairhurst’s relentless and seemingly endless international touring schedules prove him to be first and foremost a live performer. Raised in the north of England he’s gone from Wigan to the World travelling broad musical landscapes. With undeniable blues influences and a nod to Ry Cooder, on his journey he’s studied classical Indian music, played slide guitar blues in Bangkok bars and come up with a distinctive instrumental and vocal style. Just in the last year he’s performed a gruelling 200 plus shows across 10 countries, completed a European tour with blues legend Johnny Winter and has released his latest recording the ‘Hungry Blues’ EP in conjunction with Toby Murray on drums and harmonica from Joe Strouzer. Fairhurst is nominated for The British Blues Awards 2013 ‘Best Original British Blues Song’.
The ‘Hungry Blues’ EP woodcut cover design betrays eclectic influences of an essentially bottleneck blues man, closely acquainted with dubro guitar and in possession of a deep Missippi style vocal , that owes something to the likes of Howlin Wolf. Interesting then, that his 2010 release ‘Joys of Spring’ was an instrumental album with Ravi Shankar inspiration and meditative undertones, taking his most dominant feature out of the equation and laying bare his ‘digital’ musicianship. ‘Hungry Blues’ by contrast leans into the vocals and Fairhurst lets the depth of his timbre loose over the tracks. Lyrically laced with wanderlust from deep within the soul this is the American road trip of Fairhurst’s world panoramas.
With a 70’s guitar infused beginning opening track ‘Up On The Hill’ has the wind in its hair and a fast paced sense of wide open plains and expectation. As the trip gets underway the resonating vocal calls out ‘take me away from here now’. Track 2 ‘The Snow Lies Deep’ has more of a picking guitar-led sound that spirals into ever playful riffery before roaming into exotic film score sounds, evocative of David Lynch eerie twighlight moods, yet dominated by the vocal.
Emerging from the dead of night ‘Light My Way Back Home’ exudes restless spirit and fire in the belly but has a philosophy within, stripping back to catchy rhythmic simplicity ‘one way to be your own master is to find truth deep in your soul’.
Track 4 ‘I Don’t Know’ is reminiscent of earlier recordings, with twangs of nostalgic, blues harp from Joe Strouzer , the soft lilts of Fairhurst’s hometown on vocals, and a skiffle pace bringing a true blend of influences. Ever the wanderer he takes a more jaded world weary angle, yet exudes sounds of freedom and an ever intricate and engaging guitar picking to the finish.
Closing with title track ‘Hungry Blues’ we’ve reached a full blown deep southern gospel choral with backing from the Hungry Blues Choir, cranked up to a blues rhythm and a rich union of vocal and instrumental tones.
You can catch up with John Airburst live at a number of this year’s UK festivals (including Glastonbury, Shambala and Boomtown) and there’s European tour spanning 9 countries.