There’s something quite magical about listening to an album from start to finish. By doing so, you get to wrap yourself in an artist’s vision. Experience music as part of a narrative. Live through the peaks, troughs and appreciate the considered closing.
It’s something that’s very far removed from the stream-and-skip Spotify generation we live in. And it’s something that singer-songwriter, Chris Blackwood can get down with.
He released his self-titled debut album last month, describing it as a ‘narrative vision’, his songs loosely touch on the concepts of growing up throughout life. It’s set in three stages, with instrumental tracks acting as chapter headings for birth, the middle years and death. He adds: “It was influenced by ideas like the film Childhood, the album Good Kid, M.A.A.D City by Kendrick Lamar, and generally from growing up in a small English town.”
As with any first release, Blackwood is proud of his achievement. “It feels great to finally get it out. It is an album that I see as a perfect vision of what I’ve achieved so far in music,” he beams.
However, forget trying to decipher too much meaning into his tracks. He’s a strong advocate of people drawing up their own meanings from songs. “I wanted to make the story subtle. I want people to enjoy this album without getting bogged down with concepts,” he explains.
The learning curve of getting to where he is today hasn’t been easy. “I can be too imposing,” Blackwood admits, as he reminisces to past experiences with failed musical groupings. “When I wrote a song, the rest of the band would have to play exactly as I wanted. Naturally, it made me unpopular.”
It was only after moving to Manchester did Blackwood give the solo act a solid shot. And having released two acoustic EPs, he then realised how much he missed having a full band around him. So, with previous lessons learnt, he formed another band – and this time it’s stuck. “I’m a lot better now. I I actually encourage the band members to experiment with the songs, it adds a more enjoyable live experience,” he enthuses.
Blackwood’s influences are as classic as they come. Pink Floyd and the Beatles are his main go-tos for creating album based music. But he also cites Bob Dylan (“for the words”), The Smiths (“for the jangle”) and David Bowie (“his ability to act the chameleon”).
With the array of various styles shining through in the album, it does make for classic easy listening. “It’s fast most of the time. The words fly by. Some of them fly by so fast you don’t register what they say. But there’s heart. I made sure I put a lot of that in there. It’s music full of substance,” Blackwood says earnestly.
It’s this passionate approach to his craft that’ll guarantee album listeners will want to give it a proper spin (albeit digitally, for now). Give it ear on Spotify today, tomorrow, or whenever you have a dedicated quiet mo.