Graeme James is preparing to release a series of seasonal EPs, starting with Old Storms in New Places – comprised of six tracks that explore the emotional landscape of the fall season – set for release tonorrow on September 18th 2020, just ahead of the autumnal equinox.
However, TFFT are delighted to bring you the opportunity to hear the record a day early, with a premiere of the EP in full.
Take a listen below, before reading a discussion from Graeme about each track on the EP…
“Old Storms in New Places”
“Inspired by PB Shelley’s famous poem Ozymandias, ‘Old Storms in New Places’ is a musing on the futility of human endeavor. Even most glorious achievements fade into obscurity or are forgotten all together, as whole generations drift out of memory. Kingdoms rise and fall as ancient storms rage in new centuries – history seemingly destined to repeat itself. There is a proverb that says, ‘You have set eternity in the heart of man,’ and this song echoes that same desire for something that will endure the ravages of time. The Autumn EP is named after this track because Autumn, with all its loveliness and beauty, carries with it a sense of foreboding and death as the season of Winter approaches.”
“This song found its origin in travels to Berlin and the former GDR. Being a keen student of history, I was very familiar with many of the major events of the 20th century in the area, but there seemed to be a profound heaviness to the place that I couldn’t really articulate. It felt like there was a collective memory of suffering that I couldn’t even begin to understand or voice.
Doing more reading into everyday people’s stories, I found myself particularly moved by the numerous accounts of abrupt separations that occurred when the Berlin wall was raised overnight in 1961. The tragic absurdity of people finding themselves caught on either one side or the other based purely on where they slept that night ended up forming the inspiration for this song.
The radio signals at the beginning and the end of the song are extracts from actual ‘Number Station’ radio broadcasts from the time, which were used to communicate in code with intelligence agents during the Cold War.”
“Fire in the Pines”
“’Fire in the Pines’ chronicles the experience of watching someone you deeply respect self-sabotage and set their own world on fire. Ultimately, it is an acknowledgement that in our shared humanity the same treachery lives in all our hearts.”
“Banks of the Arrow”
“The Arrow River in New Zealand was a major gold mining hotspot during the Otago Gold Rush in the 1860s. It is also a place that I’ve spent a lot of time walking and thinking about life. The song is about the lifelong struggle to overcome the innate self-centeredness that stops you giving and receiving love.”
“Death Defying Acts”
“’Death Defying Acts’ is a song about taking courage and finding redemption in the face of your deepest flaws.”
“I wrote this song in a very expensive underground car park near Trafalgar Square. I was on a UK tour with some time to kill in London, so I thought I’d have a go at busking in some iconic locations. It took me about two hours to drive to the square, find a spot, and set up all my instruments – after which I only managed to play one song before being moved along by security. Having made £1.25 and not wanting to risk a massive fine or gear confiscation, I went back to the carpark and realized that I still had 45 minutes left on my £24.00 ticket. The acoustics were quite beautiful, and I was very much missing my pregnant wife who was back in the Netherlands, so I picked up my Baritone Ukulele and the song just poured out of me.”
Talking exclusively to TFFT about the release, Graeme told us:
“I have always found the seasons to be a compelling metaphor for human existence as a whole. In late 2018, I moved from New Zealand to Northern Europe where the seasons are more distinct and extreme, and as a consequence I found myself increasingly drawn to such themes in my songwriting. The title of the Autumn EP ‘Old Storms in New Places’ references the seemingly inevitable repetition of history. As the air starts to chill and the leaves turn gold, I am always reminded of our impermanence of all that we know. Autumn for me represents the golden twilight hours – whether it be of one’s life, or even of whole empires. It is most bittersweet of the seasons, so full of the beauty, and yet containing in every falling leaf a harbinger of the winter to come.”
Graeme James is an artist rooted in folk’s rich storytelling and musical traditions. Though he’s now based in Netherlands, Graeme spent the last number of years building a large and loyal fan base throughout his native New Zealand and beyond with his carefully crafted multi-instrumental soundscapes. His last full-length, 2019’s The Long Way Home, is a warmly insightful, lushly layered modern folk album that explores time and space through a vibrant variety of perspectives.
James’ dynamic live shows are performed as a one-man band with the aid of a loop pedal to layer electric violin, guitar, banjo, bass, piano, baritone ukulele, mandolin, accordion, harmonica & percussion.
For more info, head to: www.graemejamesmusic.com