INTERVIEW: JACK ARTHURS | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Donna-Lisa Healy

York-born Newcastle-based musician Jack Arthurs’ work echoes the ‘less-is-more’ sentiment perfectly. His simple, acoustic guitar-based music is backed by delicate vocals and a storytelling-style lyricism.

Jack has quite the musical pedigree, having started off playing piano aged nine, he became a gifted guitarist as a youngster, but it was only recently that he decided to go it alone. “A few years ago, I felt I wanted to write songs for my own voice and play solo for the first time.” He says, and along came self-released debut Only Dreams Are True, in 2012. “This brought me into contact with a wider network of folk in the music industry nationally and I signed a publishing deal with District 6 Music Publishing and in 2015 signed to Bad Elephant Music in London.” Now poised to release his second album, Treasure House, it seems Jack’s philosophy of keeping it simple has reaped the rewards.

Jack feels that the new record is a natural progression from his debut, discovering that the writing process was easier second time around. “Only Dreams Are True was a leap into the unknown for me as a solo artist, and Treasure House feels like a natural development. The songs are still stripped back and arranged for solo acoustic guitar and voice. The main difference is I’ve had longer to perform and write the new material.”

Jack’s sound may be subtle, but it contains a wealth of sentiment. Tracks like Lift Me Up, with its sweetly reassuring lyrics and swiftly strummed guitar, the more emphatic Waves of Sunlight and the uplifting poignancy of Hope, suggest a record full of emotion, where the silence between the notes is just as important.

I enjoy working with the space and silence behind the music, when a song is stripped back.”

Jack admits that the record celebrates imagination and transformation: “I find songs are like stories and often take on a life of their own. What you end up with is imaginary and yet driven by a very real truth inside. The song Treasure House is about feeling a strong sense of connection with inspirational artists from the past. Our imaginations themselves are like treasure houses and that’s one of the ideas behind the album’s title.”

Finding inspiration both in the people and places of the North East and in the very history of music itself, Jack’s style has a timeless quality full of reflective beauty. “I’m inspired by all kinds of music and other art-forms like literature and visual arts,” he says, “music arranged for voice and a solo instrument has a great history, people were doing exactly the same thing 500 years ago.”

Although he describes his songwriting methods as a “messy, childlike, playful process” he often writes with a specific lyrical idea in mind. “I’ve come to trust not knowing what I’m going to end up with when I start writing, and to enjoy the mystery of the process.”

Jack Arthurs releases Treasure House on 5th February via Bad Elephant Music. He plays Quilliam Brothers’ Teahouse, Newcastle on Saturday 27th February.

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