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Pablo Clements & James Griffith, (Toydrum, UNKLE), and Gavin Clark (UNKLE, Clayhill, Sunhouse) present THE EVANGELIST Out December 14th on Underscore Collective Format: Digital /Limited Edition 12 heavy weight vinyl / CD www.underscore-collective.com "(Gavin Clark s) music elevated my early work from student tat (in the early 90 s) into something resembling art, he s penned at least one unforgettable song for pretty much everything I ve ever made and his latest, as yet unreleased songs, are his greatest and have once again become the emotional heartbeat of my latest project. " Shane Meadows It is a cruel and frequent twist of the universe that it will grant voice, melody and lyricism " the ability to say the bleakest things in the most beautiful manner - to those least equipped to cope with it. The heaviest soul often lies within the thinnest skin and an artist s life is all anxiety and ambition; the ambition to do right by whatever talent you may have accompanied by the anxiety that you are failing at this. Some of us will be wanting a break from this if we can possibly manage it. Chemically if need be. These warring impulses were written all over Gavin Clark.
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Director of the 'This Is England' series Shane Meadows says that (singer for all of the above groups) Gavin Clark’s music was the impetus that elevated his early student work into “something resembling art”.
Gavin died earlier this year, aged just 46, having penned songs for almost every film Meadows has made.
Much like, say, Jeff Buckley, Gavin could have sung the yellow pages and it would have had you in tears of joyful sadness (!). Such was the emotion in his much missed voice.
Not long before his untimely death Meadows had released a lovely collection of Gavin's work called 'Beautiful Skeletons' (full of portentous lyrics about loneliness and life-after-death) but there has been very little 'solo' output from this gentle, shy and talented musician.
This new album isn't really a 'solo' effort either but it might as well be as Gavin is very much 'front and centre'. Not long before his death, he was working with James Griffiths and Pablo Clements, members of UNKLE/Toydrum in Brighton, on a concept album, Evangelist, based - loosely - on his own life.
After his shock death, the band thankfully swore to complete the record, and have dedicated most of this year to doing so. Clark’s eldest son is a vocalist on the record, while composer Ludovico Einaudi features on the track 'Never Feel This Young', and Grinderman/Dirty Three member (and one of Nick Cave's Bad Seeds) Warren Ellis plays some spooky viola on 'I’m in Love Tonight'.
A couple of the songs appeared on 'This is England 90' and that should be all any new listeners need to know (Meadows' judgement of quality is always spot on).
Heard in the context of Gavin's death this LP (something of a 'concept' album about a rebellious holy man) could be seen as a 'sad' record with its references to God and Spirits etc but its not, its uplifting and joyous in a deep and soulful way. As Clark himself says in the sleeve notes "s*** I've become the preacher!!!".
Its lovely that there were some unheard Gavin Clark songs and that his friends saw fit to release them (on pale spearmint green vinyl if you buy the LP version). The instrumentation here is probably closer to Gavin's UNKLE contributions (moody and hinting at rocky without ever really getting so loud as to take away from THAT voice - listen to the thunderous 'God Song', as used on 'This Is England 90' ) than his time in his 'own' bands ... but its a lovely swan-song.
This album works in its own right but, once you've fallen in love with it, you'll then hopefully feel inspired to search out Gavin's back-catalogue ('Clayhill's' 'Small Circle' (inc members of Red Snapper) would be a good place to start that journey).
This album is an expression of his soul.
I bought the Vinyl and it is awesome, especially through Marshall speakers.