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January 2019

News roundup

The end of last year was a busy time for me and I got behind on news. So, belatedly, here’s a roundup of some reviews and articles that appeared late in 2018.

There were print reviews for Joy’s Reflection in Shindig! – 5 stars, ‘Not only is this probably Sharron Kraus’ best work, it’s one of the best albums you’ll hear this year.’ – RnR – 4 stars, ‘dreamy, haunting music’ – and Prog magazine – ‘a fine showcase for Kraus’.

I was interviewed by Italian music magazine Rockerilla as well as music won’t save you. Ondarock (another Italian website) reviewed the album.

There was a nice review of my Ghost Box single at Concrete Islands – ‘The overall effect is more akin to Alan Garner’s Weirdstone of Brisingamen than Tolkien however. Garner brings one close to the magic without getting rid of the pylons. So too do Sharron Kraus and Ghost Box’ – and MOOF magazine reviewed the Cafe Oto show I played together with Beautify Junkyards. Ned Raggett wrote a kind of retrospective feature on my work for Bandcamp.

Joy’s Reflection was included in a handful of end of year lists: FRUK, Concrete Islands, music won’t save you, and I was asked to contribute to Delusions of Adequacy‘s end of year list by choosing a favourite album of the year. I chose Aby Vulliamy’s Spin Cycle, which I’d been listening to over and over after playing shows with Aby in October. 

I’ve been feeling bad about not keeping up with social media, not doing my best to publicise events I’m involved in, not making enough of an effort to promote my music, not taking advantage of social media channels to share my ideas with others. At the start of the year, as I always do, I spent time reflecting on the passing year and thinking about what the new year has in store; what to hope for, focus on and work towards. I tend to form resolutions and find doing so helpful and motivating. One of the things I had on my possible resolutions list this year was ‘blog and tweet more’ and yet, more than halfway through January and I’d not yet got my act together.

I started wondering why, and instead of beating myself up for being lazy or lacking in motivation, asked myself what it is about the kind of writing blogging and tweeting seems to require that I find unappealing. I have no problem motivating myself to work on other writing – quite the opposite. I’ve written a journal since I was a teenager and look forward to sitting and writing extended journal entries about what’s been going on in my life, what I’m thinking about, what I’ve been reading, watching, listening to. I write with a cup of coffee, either in my favourite chair at home or in a cafe. Working on music and songwriting is something I look forward to and find real happiness in. I’ve recently been pulling together ideas from essays I’ve written and conference presentations I’ve given, with the idea of turning them into a book. I’m making good progress on that project and the days when I’m free to work on it are days I treasure. Given that I’m a willing journaler and regular chronicler, I’d expect that blogging and tweeting would be an extension of this and come naturally to me – why doesn’t it? 

Reflecting on the forms of writing I love, I realise that they all start with an inward-looking phase: I spend long periods of time alone musing, imagining, wrestling, researching, searching and making. It’s only after that phase, if I’m lucky, that there’s something I can share with others. One of the wonderful things about music is that the solitary aspects of creating are balanced by the social aspects of playing, collaborating and performing, which stops me from becoming a complete hermit! I seem to need a lot of solitary time – maybe my ideas unfurl relatively slowly and need more nurturing. Maybe this is just an excuse, but I don’t think so: it’s more important to me to get on with creating than to be giving a running commentary on my life. Having said that, I admire people who make social media their own and I find out about a lot of interesting stuff as a result of people who share more actively than I do on social media. So I’ll try to make more of an effort.

I’ll follow up this post with another one catching up with some things that have been happening over the last few months..