John Lennon McCullagh – North South Divide (359 Records)
CD / DL / LP
Due out 14th Oct
Being christened John Lennon could have made life tricky for the 15 year old Doncaster teenager who sings the modern blues with a rare brilliance as John Robb claims in this review of his debut album.
There was no way a 15 year old wonderkid called John Lennon McCullah was going to be anything else.
Not with a name like that.
Not with a music mad dad.
Not with all that music that was inside him.
Not with a burning desire to tell the truth about where we live armed with an acoustic guitar and a harmonica and a fistful of shrapnel lyrics- street poetry that tell the story of Tory Britain from its arse end.
Like a young Paul Weller or a 1977 Joe Strummer or a Billy Bragg when he was first on the road- but even younger, the sharp dressed kid from Doncaster sounds like he has seen it all and is singing it back couched in songs that drip melody and beauty and a gravelly wisdom and an anger when it’s needed.
Like the great youthful orator Owen Jones, this is more proof that the youth are wide awake and it’s time to quit those myths of the apathetic generation from moaning elders in rose tinted specs.
John Lennon McCullagh is the 15 year old Doncaster wonderkid armed with an acoustic guitar and his dad’s record collection has emerged as one of the voices of the year. Even the album title lays it on the line- London is a boom town- one of the great world cities but the rest of the UK is stressing and struggling- the north south divide where the guitar or football is still the only escape unless you count binge drinking on the weekend. It’s a fucking scrapheap and the rich are laughing but they will never have a sound track as good as this.
Signed to Alan McGees 359 imprint, John is a voice of a generation in what is, despite what they tell you, is a generation full of voices. This is a voice that is stained with Dylan and armed with a guitar and harmonica that hints at the tousled haired troubadours early sixties craft but there is such an English twist to it all this that it’s already somewhere else. the audacious kid has taken the past and made it into his future. that’s the beauty of youth- audacity.
For a start he can write songs.
Every twist and turn there is melody and passion and a wisdom that should just not be there on a young man’s shoulders. Every documentary, every news clip about contemporary Britain is going to have to use the youthful McCullah as its soundtrack.
The words are razor sharp and tell the truth of now, the state of the nation in a way that people have been dreaming of hearing for years.
I’ve seen John play and he looks like he was born into this, calm and assured and impassioned, this is a big job to put on young shoulders. Of course he’s not offering solutions. That’s not his job. His job is to sing his heart out, write top tunes and make a music that Generation Why? can listen to and be inspired by, or just fall in love with…
John Lennon McCullaghcan be found on Facebook.