A Welsh singer who could be one of this year's biggest breakthrough artists is heading to the North East to promote his first solo album.
Meilyr Jones, who was a member of Cardiff psychedelic pop band Race Horses, released his first solo album, 2013, earlier this month.
He's hitting the road to promote the record with a UK tour, include a date at The Cluny 2 in Newcastle on Monday, May 2.
It's just a few months since he was here, as support act to Richard Hawley at The Sage Gateshead.
Jones presents his potted biography in modest fashion: “I’m 28,” he begins. “From Aberystwyth, by the sea. My mum’s a nurse and my dad’s a children’s books author.
"I guess I was always into music. At school I joined a band that became Race Horses, and I really enjoyed being in that band. And I went to music college, studied the tuba, dropped out after three years.”
A less humble account might note that the college in question was the Royal Academy of Music, and might also mention Jones’s stint playing bass on tour for Gruff Rhys and Boom Bip’s Neon Neon, as well as his work with Stealing Sheep and for the Cousins project with Euros Childs.
2013 is his first solo work since Race Horses broke up, and it has been winning favourable reviews.
“I conceived of the record as a compilation of myself, over the period of a year,” says Jones, "as an anthology, a collection of my songs and of what happened to me in that year.”
The year in question was 2013, a curious time in Jones’s life, when the weeks were scored by loss and pleasure and revelation, and when he made a short but transformative trip to Rome, drawn by a fascination with sculpture and Byron and Berlioz, and by a desire “to see something new and different.”
In Italy he lived differently. “I’d go out every day, walking for hours, go to churches, just to see paintings,” he says.
He spoke no Italian, but lived with Romans, joining them for late-night dinners and early-morning drinking, and in that way of living he found “there was this spirit - that again I’d felt in Byron’s poetry - that was sweet but also really resilient.”
The songs that emerged from that time proved quite different to anything he had written before; 13 songs in which joy and rapture are tempered by wit and keen-eyed humour, by jubilant pop melody and rock and roll muscularity.
Returning to London, he decided to set about recording. Five of the songs he had conceived as orchestral pieces, so he assembled a 30-strong orchestra “out of friends, and friends of friends of friends”.
There was a saxophonist, a bassoonist, a clarinetist, some classical players, jazz, brass, a French harpist, and Lucy Mercer from Stealing Sheep on drums.
Over the course of a day they recorded the main body of the tracks Olivia, Return To Life, Passionate Friend, Rome and Be Soft, the songs later embellished with further additions - a community choir in Glasgow, field recordings of birds, three trombonists recorded in a cemetery, among them.
“I wanted to make something that felt right to me and expressed my interests, which are classical music and rock‘n’roll music, and films, and nature and karaoke, and tacky stuff,” Jones says. “And I wanted to capture that feeling in Rome of high culture and low-brow stuff all mixed together.”
Tickets for Meilyr Jones's gig at The Cluny are £7, and are available HERE.