Today we released a new version of Ironbark.
Here’s a thing I wrote:
“Ironbark was the first album that I planned as a whole. Not that it’s a concept album as such, but it was written to be a single work of art with all the songs fitting together in terms of tone, subject matter, harmonic approach and so on. My first solo album, Spinning the Compass sort of happened by accident when I realised some of the songs might work together. Ironbark was intentional.
The title comes from an Australian poem about a gullible yokel from the town Ironbark who is fooled into believing his throat was cut by a mischievous barber:
‘He raised his hand, his brow grew black, he paused awhile to gloat,
Then slashed the red-hot razor-back across his victim’s throat:
Upon the newly-shaven skin it made a livid mark –
No doubt it fairly took him in – the man from Ironbark.’ – Ironbark Banjo Paterson 1892
I stumbled across it while reading up on the Sweeney Todd story, and thought it sounded like a splendid place. Except rather than being inhabited by yokels who are afraid to visit barbers, my Ironbark is inhabited by murderous scientists, evil townsfolk and at least two people who think it a good idea to live beyond death in steam-powered machines.
The bonus tracks here include ‘They Tried To Turn The Lights On’ which i wrote at the time but recorded more recently and ‘Three’ the sequel to ‘Two’ from Spinning the Compass. At some point I will record ‘One’ as well, which does exist.
The live tracks are the whole of the Miser’s Will, recorded at a lovely house concert in North London. This gig ties as one of my three favourite ever gigs. The audience were really into it, but behaved like a classical audience rather than a rock audience. They were entirely silent, listening to every single note. For a performer this is slightly terrifying but all the more exhilarating for it.
Having recently listened back to Ironbark after a few years not having heard it, I am genuinely proud of it. It pushes what I could do with the level of expertise and equipment I had at the time. While I think it is still clearly a home studio recording, it sounds good. It is also where I think I really found my voice as a songwriter after several years of floundering about trying out different styles.
I like it, I hope you do.”