INTERVIEW: James Gray Robson & The Lovely Burn | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Darlington duo James Gray Robson & The Lovely Burn have only been gigging together for the last year, but have so far managed to snag appearances at Stockton Calling and numerous high profile venues across the UK, not to mention support slots for Chris Helme and Ian Prowse. Their first EP, For All It’s Worth, was a melodious slice of alt. country and it’s being followed up this month by new release Rule For You.

Despite being together for a short time, the two have known each other a while. James explains why they’ve only recently begun performing together: “Seventeen years ago I was in a band with Chris, we did one recording and split up, then I didn’t do music for years after. I wanted to do stuff on my own so I decided to learn guitar so I could write tunes, but then I was shit scared of performing on my own so dragged the Lovely Burn into it.”

James Gray Robson & The Lovely Burn are troubadours inspired by the troubled, but who present brutal perspectives in a beautiful way

Sonically, Rule For You has greater depth than the previous EP, with extra percussion and more of Chris Burn’s warm, Chris Isaak-esque, electric guitar that wraps itself around James’ soul-filled voice, moving from ethereal to unbelievable, in a way that’s reminiscent of Jeff Buckley. Chris tells me about their writing process: “James pens all the lyrics but songs can start out with a hook or chord progression on guitar. Ultimately those ideas are taken to the attic where we practice and thrash out the structure, changing the chords and embellishing things until we’re happy with the sound and tempo.”

“I always write from a first person perspective,” James adds. “I try to get inside the character like Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson or Springsteen, where they write a film within in a song, allowing you can picture everything. That’s what I aspire to do.”

The subject matter feels much darker on this EP, I ask about their inspiration. “There’s a lot of stuff based on what I’ve read. I’m drawn to strange odd stories that sometime worry my fiancé.” Says James. “Our song The Fan is a newspaper story about an adult film female actor who was stalked by a nut-job in LA. She was walking down Sunset Boulevard and he went up to her and slashed her face up so she could never work again. I wanted to know why. I don’t understand the thought processes behind stalking. Why would you fuck someone up you are obsessed with?” The rest of the EP’s tracks have similarly dark themes, attempting to understand society and the human psyche; Rule For You is based on a TV show about prostitution and Salvador is a rags to riches story of street kids in a David Byrne book.

James Gray Robson & The Lovely Burn are troubadours inspired by the troubled, but who present brutal perspectives in a beautiful way.

James Gray Robson & The Lovely Burn play Music Box festival in Darlington on Sunday 5th June.


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