London singer-songwriter Conil has garnered a rosary of glowing reviews for his raw voice and standout songs he claims were inspired by wandering through the cobble-stoned city streets at night. Using an array of unusual ethnic instruments on his latest release Strange Part Of The Country, the album evokes an atmospheric road trip through the city’s underbelly. After a half bottle of Absinthe. And tossing a bloody hatchet into the Thames. But in a nice way.
The album was mixed by multi Grammy winner Tchad Blake – the man behind a number of Tom Waits and Pearl Jam records – and double bass came from legendary Danny Thompson (John Martyn, Tim Buckley).
Realizing that heavyweights of this caliber are difficult to get hold of unless you’re from a established record label, Conil emailed them some music under the pseudonym Phil Coltrane – which later became a lyric in ‘Dog Meat Stew’: “changed my name to John Coltrane ‘cos no one took my phone calls”. The plan worked. The quality of the songs impressed them and recording began.
Recorded mainly at night in his isolated home-studio in South London, Conil recalls “Sometimes I would not leave the house for days, experimenting with instruments like the dilruba and sarangi.”
Without a producer overseeing what he was doing, Conil found his sound as he went along. After 12 months of production, Conil took the tunes to Tchad Blake’s country studio where he spent his days working on Tchad’s farm – the Los Angeles native even taught him how to lasso horses. At night they would work in the studio drinking whiskey and raiding the wine cellar.
The record turned out raw and original but at its heart were quality songs and a unique voice.
With 4 star reviews by Q Magazine and support from BBC Radio 2, 6 Music, XFM and NME Radio in the UK, single ‘Years Between’ was released in the US and reached Number 3 in the Mediaguide Alternative Radio Chart. Blues Matters magazine featured Conil as the main front cover story, he supported US singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur on tour and was invited to perform at SXSW and NXNE.
Ever the maverick, at SXSW, Conil put up his trademark ‘One Way’ signs all over Austin – altering the familiar street signs to read ‘Strange Part Of The Country’ and points them to the gig venue.
He will be embarking on a street session tour playing gigs at planned spots coordinated via his website www.conilmusic.com
Each location will be marked by a Banksy-style plaque that reads ‘Strange Part Of The Country’. Previous street sessions have included gigs inside a meat market, next to a nuclear power station and in the middle of a dog track.
Beyond the release of the Strange Part Of The Country full-length album, Conil will be releasing three singles in the US and UK in 2010.
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