‘The Hay-Man Dreams’, will be released on Friday 14th July 2017

No one is more surprised than me that I’ve managed to complete another album just a year after releasing The UnreasonaCosmograf-The Hay-Man Dreamsble Silence in 2016. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster 12 months for me. I had a few problems health wise last year and ended up having an operation in September to remove a tumour from the radial nerve in my arm. It was unclear how much impact this would have on my motor skills and playing music again, but getting a referral to one of the top surgeons in the country seemingly has provided a miracle cure for the pain issues I’d suffered with for so many years. I have lost a tiny bit of feeling in the base of my thumb but all the dexterity and strength in my arm and hand has returned. Playing guitar now is actually easier than it’s ever been. Much of the new album was already written by the time I went into hospital and I’d recovered sufficiently with a few weeks to work on finishing the final guitar, bass and keyboard parts.
This album has been much easier to complete than The Unreasonable Silence. I think I was pretty clear about where I wanted to go with it and ended up playing all the guitar, bass and keys myself apart from some help from Matt Stevens who helped out guitar on one track. For vocals I wanted more help from Rachael Hawnt who takes more of a starring role on this album and is a far more talented singer than I will ever be. Rachel Hall provides a beautiful solo to conclude the title track and David Allan, a former BBC continuity announcer in the 1970s, provides a smattering of spoken word. There’s also a big change in the drum seat and Kyle Fenton took on and filled the role that’s normally been occupied by Nick D’Virgilio on the last 3 albums. I’d have loved to work with Nick again of course but his commitments elsewhere and the expense of recording from his base in Sweetwater, just wouldn’t work out for us, so it felt right to give Kyle the opportunity to show what he could do in the studio, as he’d done such an amazing for us live back at Celebr8.3 in 2014.
The theme of this album presents as a mythical tale of a farm labourer meeting an early death, and leaving a loving wife and young family. His widow builds a scarecrow effigy as a shrine to her loss, and this ‘Hay-Man’ spends his weather beaten days in eternity, dreaming beyond his field. As with When Age Has Done Its Duty, I developed the idea after researching some family history, this time on my Dad’s side of the family. My great great grandfather was a gamekeeper and farm labourer and died in mysterious circumstances in a ditch at the side of the road. The tale of his demise is literally described in the track, ‘Melancholy Death of A Gamekeeper ‘. He died a young man and left a large family, and I wrote the songs thinking of the trials he had suffered and anger and loss his surviving family must have felt.  I imagined about his spirit in the form of a scarecrow, Tethered and Bound to a field, with his dreaming mind his only comfort. It seems a common thread in a lot of family history that the deepest bonds of love and commitment to duty, are forged from toil and adversity. I think this is what the album is about…
To complement the vintage theme I wanted a warm retrospective sound. I’m making no apologies for this and I’m relinquishing any claims on being progressive with a small ‘p’. I’m largely fed up with the argument and I’m pretty tired of the notion that everything has to be new and original to be good. I like old stuff…The best music was made in 1970s. It’s a sound I’m familiar with and one I fell in love with I was 15. Classic rock inspired guitar, bass and drums, with some vintage keyboards. In fact you won’t find a single instrument on the album that wasn’t available in 1973, albeit a lot of the keyboard parts are very modern simulations of the real thing of course.
Another first is this will be released on vinyl for the first time courtesy of Chris Topham at Plane Groovy. It’s therefore at 44mins, the shortest album I’ve made too and fits on single LP at a perfect 3 tracks per side.
Pre ordering should be starting in the next week or so, watch out here for the announcements.
The Hay-Man Dreams Track Listing:
1. Tethered And Bound
2. Trouble In The Forest
3. The Motorway
4. Cut The Corn
5. Melancholy Death Of A Gamekeeper
6. Hay-Man
Thanks for tagging along on this journey. Six albums in and my enthusiasm remains undimmed despite the frustrations of working on a shoestring budget and finding limited success, but I’m in this for the long haul and mainly because I’m driven to keep creating new music…
Regards
Robin

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