I'm listening to winamp as I'm writing this, and a guy called Jason Webley. In the last few years his music has become somewhat of an obsession. The first song I heard was Map . I came across it whilst browsing myspace and I listened to it on repeat for about two hours. It wasn't just his voice - which, by the way, is gorgeous - but the lyrics and music.
Map starts off with an instrumental intro that is swooping, sorrowful and spine-tingling. Then his voice kicks in. I walked across a continent where children did not bat an eye when made to watch their mothers die, they left the bodies by the sides of roads. Quite clearly, this is not a song bowing to the usual tropes of sex, lust and whatever other tripe most songwriters come up with. No, this was deeper, evocative and strange.
Then after this lyric She grew cold and softly said: I am not your lover, I'm just the map you used to find them his voice does something beautiful, it swoops and soars. I was lost. Cellos, violins, oboes and in the background, what sounds like a xylophone. The mix is heady and enticing. It was only an introduction to the genius of this man.
One of the next few songs I discovered through the miracle of the interwebs was Dance Whilst the Sky Crashes Down , which is, as he has been known to say: "The most cheerful song I know... about death!" And cheerful it is, with a jaunty rhythm and the European sound of the accordian, and in the background some percussion instrument. And again, fantastic lyrics: When the stakes are high, best to play the clown . His sense of humour shines through here, the song is dark but not melancholy.
And then a third song completely turned everything around. Eleven saints . A song that begins And if my cat looks scared, it's because it knows it's not going to heaven. Pure silliness. It's hard to believe it came from the same artist, but it has Webley stamped all over it; genius lyrics, great melodies and that voice of his. Eleven saints is a collaboration between Jason and Jay Thompson. This sense of fun was confirmed when browsing through youtube, most of his songs on youtube are not serious, there's a cover of Hey Ya, a slightly altered version of No woman, No fly and The Sneezing Song. Which is best sung by six year olds. This is a man with a song for every taste.
And he's fabulous live. I saw him in some pub in Manchester, in all his bottle-shaking, foot-stamping glory. But Jason is a man who is accessable. After the show I had a chance to briefly talk to him. He's truly a lovely guy.
And the song I was listening to when I started this blog post? Against the night. Soothing, beautiful and well worth a listen.