“It’s like writing a book – many people start it, but don’t finish it. We did it.” – Ed Blaney
You get a sense of a long-desired renaissance from Ed Blaney. The title of the new album from his band Blaney “The Severance”, the follow up to last year’s critically applauded “Urban Nature”, implies a change, a break from the past, and a positive future direction.
Is it a that difficult second album or is it something new entirely?
When asked about this Blaney is candid:
I think it was a bit of both, ‘ leaving it all behind, a cleansing of the mind is’ a line from The Severance. Indeed it is a total break away in many aspects, that was the whole idea and in the new songs you will hear and feel a sense of freedom, there’s a nice rawness, a complete coming together of the people involved. It was very spiritual for me and it worked a treat with the band. We all got and understood the concept of ‘ The Severance ‘. I have few regrets about my past musically but I felt it was time to escape from it.
Blaney is justifiably proud of the first album which garnered countless positive reviews. He found a new set of fans, and shocked a few people, with an album he describes as “a gathering of the ghosts” where a few past demons were exorcised and a strong platform for future endeavours was built.
A proud son of Salford, Ed Blaney’s first musical venture, the band “Trigger Happy”, was co-opted into The Fall in 2001 and Ed’s own musical career was put on hold for a while. However, the last few years have seen successful duo collaborations with Smith, the rebirth of Trigger Happy, a number of other successful projects, and eventually last year the emergence of the Blaney band. Much of Ed’s time in the last few years has been taken up with the creation and management of the highly regarded Salford Musical Festival which is on hiatus this year as Ed concentrates on this new album.
Whilst Ric Gibbs remains on drums the band has seen a change since “Urban Nature”.
Blaney says “The last ‘ line up ‘ was kinda cobbled together as a “mates” thing just for the 12 or so gigs we did, it was a good thing for what it was but was never gonna be a permanent fixture as a band.”
The new bass player is Lian Pienaar, and on guitar and piano, is long time Blaney associate Sophie Labrey, best known as a drummer, previously with Girl Peculiar, Shuttleworth and Shoshin, she also played on “Urban Nature. Indeed Ric, Sophie and Ed had planned this “second phase” of the project before the release of “Urban Nature”.
“The Severance” was recorded in Berlin, where two of the band members are based, heading away from the constant distractions of Salford/Manchester and embracing the multicultural vibes and the creative attitude of the German capital were key elements in that choice. The idea of recording in Berlin came about after a few beers, Ed and Ric had a chat about it and Sophie was asked to look into it as a viable option. In the past Blaney has not always enjoyed recording in UK studios finding their corporate feel restricted creativity and did not allow band members to relax into the creation of the album
Blaney says ….” In Manchester band members have the option of going ‘ home ‘ when things were starting to happen creatively, being distracted by day to day things. Being right out there in Berlin, almost in a blind sense. really worked, considering probably 7-8 of the songs were written over there in the studio. I followed my instincts and all the signs were pointing to Berlin. I don’t think we could have landed on our feet the way we did in any other studio or city in the world, it was that good. Everything we had discussed came to be, the idea of going over with no instruments and just the title song of the album sounded like a great idea to us, crazy in some ways but also perfect. Tito who owns the studio is an incredible person to work with, we hit it off straight away over emails. He listened and understood exactly what we were looking for. The studio itself was an old 1950’s cinema previously, it had so much history I could feel and was a really brilliant space to be creative in. Having been there on 6-7 trips since February, the locals have got to know us and have took to us too, it was a really great experience indeed”.
Those who enjoyed “Urban Nature” will love “The Severance”. As with the first album it’s a good mixture of swagger meets sensibility, but it is much more accessible, and those who think they know Ed Blaney and his music are in for a bit of a shock, albeit a pleasant one. In terms of subject matter there are both autobiographical and political elements. Reflection on growing up, how things have changed not necessarily for the good, society wise, learning from past mistakes in love, and at the same time, keeping a positive fresh approach. All of these spill out of the tunes with typical Blaney enthusiasm.
Self-belief, spirituality , escapism, new beginnings, realism, forgiveness and understanding are all key themes of the albums’ title track.
Ed says …”….in the track ‘ The Arrival ‘ which is a funny upbeat song, we basically stick up a nice two fingered salute to any doubters about my persona”.
Wandering around Eccles on my daily perambulation with the I Pod blasting out the new album I got a real buzz from the positive vibe bursting from the ten tracks on the album From the pulsing bass of “Happy Return” which builds a tension that releases with a punk chorus and kicks the album off with a statement of intent, this is joyous stuff.
The album captures not only the raw energy of those early Clash records, but also the Manchester pop sensibility of 10cc, and the unbridled joy of 90s Madchester. Once in a while the Greater Manchester conurbation gets back to what it is good at, making perfect pop and rock music, and this is a perfect example of that long held tradition,
All of the tracks move on from the excellent benchmark set by “Urban Nature” but there are several absolute classics that stand out. My favourite is “Blackpool” a glorious piece of writing and an indication of the potential of this band. The glam rock bounce of “Feel The Rain” and the soul-pop strut of “Bin Liner” are refreshing, there’s a tendency these days to make pop music too complicated and too muso, those two tracks prove you don’t need to do that, you can get down to the elements that make good music great, strip back, get back to basics, and deliver, that’s a winning formula. Title track “The Severance” sums up the thinking behind the album in a perfect pop/rock tune.
There are a couple of interesting variations in the mix with the dub reggae version of “Thinking Of You”, originally a garage rock tune on Urban Nature, which should have people making shapes in a live setting. “11007 days old” dials things down with a plaintive pastoral feel and a nice mid album relaxer before things build to an explosive conclusion. An emotional recollection of days past with memories of childhood. The delightful “Tessa” is pop magic, “The 11th Man” is an excellent driving rock song, and the sheer joy of closing track “The Arrival” spills out the speakers and sums up the positive nature of the album…….the only thing to have a word with Ed about his lack of appreciation of cricket!
The album will be launched at a gig at Posh Teckel Berlin on 23rd November.
A home town launch will follow at The Castle, Oldham Street, Manchester on Thursday November 30th.
The album is released on Friday November 10th. (CD/Vinyl ). You can order it via http://www.Blaney.co or grab it at HMV, Amazon and all other good record stores. I think you should it’s bloomin’ marvellous.
THE BAND MEMBERS