Meilyr Jones, who released his debut album ‘2013’ this week, is taking his new music out on the road.
Following his sold-out January show at Electrowerkz, he returns to London on 26 April with a headline gig at Moth Club and a slot at Field Day (11-12 June), alongside dates supporting John Grant and performances at other festivals like The Great Escape and End of the Road.
Jones’ debut solo release was influenced by a year of change for the Welsh singer who’d initially found success with Race Horse.
“I conceived of the record as a compilation of myself, over the period of a year,” he explains. “As an anthology, a collection of my songs and of what happened to me in that year.”
That year, 2013, began with the split of his band and, partly inspired by the story of a German art historian “who moved to Rome to see all the sculptures” as well as Byron’s ‘Don Juan’, saw Jones make a short but inspiring trip to the Italian capital.
“I got really taken over by the feeling of adventure and passion in Byron, and some of Shelley’s poetry and Keats as well. And they were all people who went to Rome.”
While there, he discovered a new way of life. “I’d go out every day, walking for hours, go to churches, just to see paintings,” he remembers. “There was this spirit – that again I’d felt in Byron’s poetry – that was sweet but also really resilient.”
The change of scenery and lifestyle influenced his writing.
“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,” says Jones. “And I wanted to capture that feeling in Rome of high culture and low-brow stuff all mixed together.”
Although the results have been described as “orchestrated chamber pop”, ‘2013’ features musical elements as diverse as recorder, harpsichord, and accordian.
He describes ‘All is Equal in Love’, for example, as: “a loose folk song, with drums, bass, banjo, guitar, pedal steel and viola, about requited love and strife in the masculine feminine balance”.
Lyrically, too, the album is more eclectic than before.
“I guess some bits are about loss, and a lot about fear, because I think I’d lost my reason to do things. But I’d gained an openness. I started to listen and appreciate quieter things. The things in between. Not just the strong colours.”
Like ‘Featured Artist’, which is “told from the perspective of an old man, kind of like Jacques Brel or Orson Welles”.
“And you can imagine someone like that falling out of favour, then being rediscovered towards the end of their life, and people saying: ‘We’re going to get you a new audience, and we’re going to get a stylist in and make you wear a cravat.’”