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Justin Currie w/ The Mastersons [Rescheduled Show] - 9/23
at City Winery New York City
- 6:00 PM
- 8:00 PM
Though he exercises some artistic license in the opening line above, Justin Currie points out that he's "as clueless as the next person" when it comes to the arcane art of songwriting. "It's a process that will always remain a mystery to me", he says. "When I wrote “Every Song's The Same” I was aware that it could be misconstrued, but it was more, 'Can somebody out there write something I can get excited about; something I can aim at?'"
After six albums with Del Amitri and three solo albums, what Currie has learned about songwriting is that you have to make yourself available to the muse. "Make sure you're bored", he says. "Make sure you're alone."
To that end, in 2012, the Glaswegian singer briefly extricated himself from city life. Renting a remote cottage, he hunkered down beneath The Cuillins, the mountain range that dominates the Hebridean island of Skye. Currie had no Internet and no mobile phone, just an acoustic guitar, a piano, and a ghetto-blaster on which to record his ideas.
It was songs rather than Skye's famous munros that got bagged, however. Currie wrote fifteen of them in eleven days, something of a personal best in terms of rapid-fire delivery. The Lower Reachessongs “Falsetto,” “On A Roll,” “On My Conscience” and “Half Of Me” were all shaped on Skye, and in the end Currie came back two days early and repaired to the pub for a well-earned pint. His mate Aldo remarked that he'd never seen him looking so relaxed.
By now the singer had over 30 songs demoed for the album that would become Lower Reaches. He'd noticed that, broadly speaking, they addressed three subjects: love, mortality and music. Though his acclaimed solo debut What Is Love For (2007) and the follow-up The Great War(2010) had been self-produced, this time out Currie wanted an outside producer. He needed someone who could steer him on which songs to record, someone who would "take him out of the equation a bit."
It's on “Into A Pearl,” Lower Reaches' remarkable piano ballad, that mortality raises its ugly head most movingly. Currie says he previously side-lined the song because "it was just too personal and emotive", and because of certain stylistic similarities to material on his What Is Love For album. The moment when his unguarded vocal glides up into the falsetto is quite magical; one of this album's draw-dropping moments.
Elsewhere, men - and perhaps women - of a certain age will identify with the conflicted protagonist of “Half Of Me,” a character torn between cordial-enough domesticity and the need to 'Go out blazing trails in a haze of rock 'n' roll.' We say protagonist, but we of course mean Currie, a man honest enough to admit that, even as he approaches 49, fifty-percent of him still wants to traverse America in a tour bus.
SIMILAR ARTISTS: Michael Stipe, Bono, Sean Kinney