Kind Words from Home

Kind Words from Home – 2012

Step into a tumbledown world of gypsy-punk accordion, surf klezmer, speak-easy ragtime, intellectual drinking and protest songs, romantic piano torch ballads, sweet musette waltzes, weeping country laments, violent tangos and stomping balkan skiffle beats. On Kind Words from Home, Julian Gaskell howls and hollers his way through a global cacophony, leaping from cockney cowboy drawling to barely uttered murmurs of eloquent discontent, all delivered with a sharp, lyrical edge.

After 18 months touring the world with Cornwall-based theatre companies Rogue Theatre and Bash Street Theatre,  ‘Kind words from home’ was recorded in autumn 2011 at Wolftone Mansions in Falmouth, and at an uncompromisingly reverberant concrete day care centre (now buried beneath a new housing estate) borrowed from Rogue Theatre in Redruth.  ‘Kind words from home’ was largely written on the road, a long way from home, and it shows.

All played by Julian Gaskell, with astonishing backing vocals, occasional upright bass and banjo from Thomas Sharpe and a bit of slide guitar from Kester Jones.

 

 Lyrics:

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Seaford Shags

Cut the bell from the rock
Let them swing in through the fog
Let the breakers roar, bring em all to shore
So fear not the sight of land
Fear not the helping hand
Or the hogs, dogs and stones piled up outside the door

Because the sun always shines on the seaford shags
The cormorants that scrape us into bags
If endeavour was a carcass they’d pick it to the bone
They’d rip the guts out of the life that we’ve known

fifteen sheep, eight bucks, eighty dishes of sweetmeats
two thousand gallons of claret to satisfy these cheats
Who sell beer below the proper measure
paid for by every misdemeanor
We can always throw the barrels and bodies in the sea

Because the sun always shines on the seaford shags
The cormorants that scrape us into bags
If endeavour was a carcass they’d pick it to the bone
They’d rip the guts out of the life that we’ve known

so keep a hold of your coat and your watch should you stray
to where the spirit of this town will spirit them away
And look around at those whose plundering gives them such mirth
we must link hands if we’re to wade in through the surf

Because the sun always shines on the seaford shags
The cormorants that scrape us into bags
If endeavour was a carcass they’d pick it to the bone
They’d rip the guts out of the life that we’ve known

Words and music by Julian Gaskell ©2011

A letter back home to the wife

No sleep on this road, no sleep on this trip
No jokes left to crack, no banter no quips
Embarked from my own platform, stowed away and I’ve flown
On a fast train through every fact and figure that I’ve known

The ghosts of the future Illuminate the track that we follow alone
and laugh along with me
while I whittle your beauty right down to the bone

And I marked out the place with a stick in the ground
So as not to forget every love lost and found
But you won’t have to trace no more trails through this life
since I put it in a letter back home to the wife
yes I put it in a letter back home to the wife

Close my thoughts to the world
close down to see you there
I’d swap the ocean for your eyes and the sun for your hair
For a moment no fear, no biding time, no care
No demon on my shoulder warning me to beware of ..

The ghosts of the future, who piss in the mud where we wallow alone
and laugh along with me, while I whittle this beauty right down to the bone

And I marked out the place with a stick in the ground
So as not to forget every love lost and found
But you won’t have to trace no more trails through this life
since I put it in a letter back home to the wife
yes I put it in a letter back home to the wife

You made me kick the fuckers out of the door
Leave them for dead with the flames from before
Who, in love and in kindness and for the old times
cracked their cynic skulls on the railway lines
upon opening my eyes if I should see you there
With dust on your eyelids and the moon in your hair
I’d down one more for the road and put the rest away
And scream ‘I loves you pretty baby’ there’s nothing more to say

The ghosts of the future Illuminate the track that we follow alone
and laugh along with me
while I whittle your beauty right down to the bone

And I marked out the place with a stick in the ground
So as not to forget every love lost and found
But you won’t have to trace no more trails through this life
since I put it in a letter back home to the wife
yes I put it in a letter back home to the wife

Words and music by Julian Gaskell ©2011

Out of tune G

I would sing you a song In any rhythm or key
Just pass it along And save a swig for me
I could play you a melody that might set our hearts free
But I’m stuck on an out of tune G

It honks like a goose
Maybe a screw thats loose
A whining puppy of a sound
That needs putting down
Still it floats out of the window through the air
The voice of an angel that’s under repair

So curse my bones, replace my joints
For someone else’s clubcard points
If we just exist to buy and sell
When our value’s gone
We must bid each other farewell

I would tell you my story But I forgot the lines
You’d be sitting out time while I commit the verbal crimes
I could play you a tune From this world to transcend
But the melodies I flush out get stuck on the u-bend

Why leave it so dissonantand ugly, you might say
Why not spend a few quid fixing it today
Well I’d sooner be a poet with my tuning astray
than in singing in harmony with nothing left to say

So curse my bones, replace my joints
For someone else’s clubcard points
If we just exist to buy and sell
When our value’s gone
We must bid each other farewell

Words and music by Julian Gaskell ©2011

Lock and key

We will walk down the front to the sound of our heartbeats
to follow the sun on victorian concrete
And I will not recall these dark times
And where my ancestors mapped out the ocean bed
I will dive over rusty iron spikes instead
Through the trackless deep she will take me by the hand

So raise a glass with me
we’ll be home soon for sure boys
just you wait and see
So heres to the love we think we’ve left behind
it’s in here, archived forever
under lock and key

Every photo is a crack that the waves forced through
And eroded the defences, I never knew
She would drag me through the deep by the scruff of my neck

So raise a glass with me
we’ll be home soon for sure boys
just you wait and see
So heres to the love we think we’ve left behind
it’s in here, archived forever
under lock and key

I don’t know if it’s imagined, if it’s past or if it’s future
If it’s faded memory or merely idle conjecture
But I will not recall the dark times

Words and music by Julian Gaskell ©2011

We had a ball

A crumbling facade of a career for a derelict life
two bottles for the evening balanced on a blunt knife
And that life is for the good folks
Not the ones like me
who traded you all for nothing but lazy misery

But we had a ball, now, didn’t we?
We had a ball, now, didn’t we?
Let me thank y’all now, didn’t we just have a ball

It was supposed to be about love and that kind of stuff
But I’ve stared into the dark now for long enough
For shapes to re-appear like old friends through the sludge
Who outstayed their welcome and left with a grudge

Did you whisper sweet nothings
or curse under your breath
it’s all much the same to me after you’ve left

But we had a ball, now, didn’t we?
We had a ball, now, didn’t we?
Let me thank y’all now, didn’t we just have a ball

I could take it or leave it any time and just pass
but it’s fermenting underneath me like a feral underclass
of passion that scales up my brittle heart
til the cracks in this regency stucco fall apart

So stay with your good folks
I’ll stay with me
On a burnt out pier that fell into the sea

But we had a ball, now, didn’t we?
We had a ball, now, didn’t we?
Let me thank y’all now, didn’t we just have a ball

Words and music by Julian Gaskell ©2011

Upcountry waltz

My heart is like a creaking, wheezing, pumping joke at best
But my love is gaining value like an antique in a chest
You might have to sell the things you need
For that hungry mouth to feed
But please don’t flog me off so cheaply

Cos I know, yes I know
There’s better places you could go
Where you’ll want for nothing and always get the things you need
But if your heart should ever wander
To a life we’ll never lead
Your dreams are always welcome here
Your dreams are always welcome here

Well the world is full of trouble, sorrow and pain
Since you packed up your suitcase and got back on the train
You make it pretty upcountry
But round here is where I remain
You see I can’t just get out so cheaply

And I know, yes I know
There’s better places you could go
Where you’ll want for nothing and always get the things you need
But if your heart should ever wander
To a life we’ll never lead
Your dreams are always welcome here
Your dreams are always welcome here

You can chat all you want and you can like all my links
But there’s more to married life than this I can’t help but think
So many ways to interact, but lonesome is still a fact
That I can’t just get away from so cheaply So I’ll keep taking the piss where I cant take the bills
You keep taking the tube where you can’t run up the hills
I don’t have nothing to give
Except the life that I live
But I’d have promised it to you so cheaply

Cos I know, yes I know
There’s better places you could go
Where you’ll want for nothing and always get the things you need
But if your heart should ever wander
To a life we’ll never lead
Your dreams are always welcome here
Your dreams are always welcome here

Words and music by Julian Gaskell ©2011

Jetking supersonic

Jetking supersonic X wing fighter
The present’s only dark to make the future look brighter
Put your head on my shoulder, my reverb in your spring
The troubles gathered round us don’t mean a thing

Every day seemes like something I missed
I never thought this thing would persist
I ain’t got the vocabulary to deal with this

Jetking supersonic X wing fighter
The present’s only dark to make the future look brighter
Put your head on my shoulder, my reverb in your spring
The troubles gathered round us don’t mean a thing

Even the tunes round here taste watered down
With the bleach lager and piss of this town
But that won’t scour off the grin that’s covering my frown

Jetking supersonic X wing fighter
The present’s only dark to make the future look brighter
Put your head on my shoulder, my reverb in your spring
The troubles gathered round us don’t mean a thing

Every one has long since deserted
And I’m stuck here where we romanced and flirted
I don’t believe in you but I could be converted

Jetking supersonic X wing fighter
The present’s only dark to make the future look brighter
Put your head on my shoulder, my reverb in your spring
The troubles gathered round us don’t mean a thing

what was that thing you murmered
I don’t believe you yet but I could be converted
what was that thing you mumbled
about walking a fine line between cocky and humble
everything I say comes out as a growl
or a crude dirty howl
but I could throw in the towel for one of your clipped vowels

Jetking supersonic X wing fighter
The present’s only dark to make the future look brighter
Put your head on my shoulder, my reverb in your spring
The troubles gathered round us don’t mean a thing

Words and music by Julian Gaskell ©2011

Same old world

I could wait forever for one little word more
To drop down from your smile to my grey lino floor
I’d let it stay for ever, never wipe it clean
Trip on it every day , slip on the stains

But I’m not lost in this world
I don’t care how the story unfurls
I won’t be down on my luck
Knowing I’m passing through the same old world as you

Your eyes could see through and out the back of my head
To the small print distant neon things we never said
‘cause my cracked pavement lips
Couldn’t put the words to this
That you repeat every day but are never the same

And I’m not lost in this world
I don’t care how the story unfurls
I won’t be down on my luck
Knowing I’m passing through the same old world as you

Waited round forever chucked every coin down every well
Faced my sign from the bridge to the sea but I never, never tell
If every ageing joke
Will get a laugh someday
While my streetlamps burn brighter than dust speck stars on a screen

And I’m not lost in this world
I don’t care how the story unfurls
I won’t be down on my luck
Knowing I’m passing through the same old world as you

Words and music by Julian Gaskell ©2011

Left luggage

Packed up my world in a suitcase
Left it for someone else
To pick up and ship out and send it home
And Left luggage is all, left luggage is all that I am

Shunted from pillar to post
Waiting at stations like ghosts
The office is closed
And meanwhile behind curtains and doors
The good folks of this town are asleep

So Dobra notch, et bon nuit,
To a life lived on the cheap
Soon it’ll be pillows and breakfast
clean Coffee and fresh teeth
So I won’t keep you too long
No I’ll stop singing this song
So the good people of this town can get some sleep

Packed up my world in a suitcase
Left it addressed to you
And until I get up and ship out and get back home
Left luggage is all, left luggage is all that I am

Words and music by Julian Gaskell ©2010

Jasmine minefield

In a square in a city by the roots of a tree
You scattered your magic somewhere in the grass
Or maybe sent it down the river, did you throw it to the breeze?
Oh well, someday the weather had to pass

Take me in your arms and my heart will always stay young
just one last freak day of summer sun
before the season closes in

you borrowed a tenner I borrowed your time
and we all borrowed a bit of pavement in the sunshine
but it seems the moments we had were only here on loan
Sure enough we’ll be putting them back

Take me in your arms and my heart will always stay young
just one last freak day of summer sun
before the season closes in

I let my ship run aground
I followed the cats ashore
Pulled up a jasmine and came knocking on your door
but no happy endings or finish in sight
and these goddam flowers only open at night

Take me in your arms and my heart will always stay young
just one last freak day of summer sun
before the season closes in

Words and music by Julian Gaskell ©2011

The drunken tourist

Pity the drunk tourist, with nowhere else to be
He sees the sights but don’t listen, can’t argue but doesn’t agree
Pity the drunk tourist, negotiating strange currencies
Attempting strange words at first, mumbling incomprehensibly

Pity the drunk tourist who puts aside for once his fear
To say something worthwhile, profound and clear
Pity the drunk tourist and put aside for once your fear
Put your hands in your pocket and order one more beer

Some kind words from home
Could lift use away
Carry us away for a while
Some kind words from home
Could lift us away
But this road is where we always stay

Pity the drunk tourist, smiling with all his teeth
For trailing cheap beer and dental care round the world is his belief
Pity the drunk tourist, a stranger to this class
Casting a net for a comforting glance but catching his face in a glass Pity the drunk tourist who puts aside for once his fear
To say something worthwhile, profound and clear
Pity the drunk tourist and put aside for once your fear
Put your hands in your pocket and order one more beer

Some kind words from home
Could lift use away
Carry us away for a while
Some kind words from home
Could lift us from here
But this road is where we’ll always stay…

Words and music by Julian Gaskell ©2011

At the edge of the map

You won’t find me by the home fire, ain’t no warmth in life I seek
I follow time, and faded rumours, to some distant mountain peak
You may search the world over
From the beginning to the end
But still I’ll be an absent friend

And despite what they say
Despite what they say
One day I’ll see you at the edge of the map
Despite what they say
Despite what they say
One day I’ll see you at the edge of the map

You won’t find me where we grew up
Just prevailing winds and salt sprays
And pebble dashed hopes, damp basements and shit PAs
You can climb through every window
In every closed down school
But still I’ll be an absent friend

And despite what they say
Despite what they say
One day I’ll see you at the edge of the map
Despite what they say
Despite what they say
One day I’ll see you at the edge of the map

Outside the backdoor of the world beside a disused branch line
Lay your head in the long grass, we’ll neck the last bottle of wine
I’d walk this whole world over just to hold you in my arms
Until then you’ll be an absent friend

And despite what they say
Despite what they say
One day I’ll see you at the edge of the map
Despite what they say
Despite what they say
One day I’ll see you at the edge of the map
One day I’ll see you at the edge of the map…
One day we’ll sail off the edge of the map

Words and music by Julian Gaskell ©2011

 

 

 

 

 

 Reviews:

May 2012 – fRoots, Ian Anderson

Last time Falmouth’s finest was with his Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and it was a quintet.  This time it’s pared down to just Gaskell, bassist Thomas Sharpe and a cameo on one track from Kester Jones, but the sound – multi-tracked by the dextrous Gaskell on 13 instruments, particularly accordeon, guitar, drums, fiddle – is even bigger.  Other than that, fans of predecessor Here the Brute Harpies Make Their Nests will be pleased to know that it’s business as usual, his declamatory, vulpine vocals ranting and roaring his splendidly acrid, protestful lyrics – Victor Meldrew meets Cap’n Jack Sparrow – over a glorious, urgent ramshackle garage blend of Balkan-Klezmerisms and French gypsy cafebilly.  As before, the ghosts of Blyth Power and Beefheart lurk in the wings, but when you think you’ve got it all figured out he throws in a great romantic, slovenly delivered torch song like Left Luggage.  Can’t knock any of that – few things this exhilarating come along very often, the antidote to tweefolk.  The PR sheet describes the sound as “wall-of-thriftf” : I like that.  He really is an original: only Bristol’s rather wonderful Boxcar Aldous Huxley appear to inhabit even part of the same planet.  Can’t knock that either.

March 2012- Bright young folk

Kind Words From Home is a boisterous set of tunes from the eclectic multi-instrumentalist Julian Gaskell. It is incredible to look at the album artwork and information and see so few musicians listed because there is enough noise in here for triple the amount of people, as well as containing one of the most seductive accordion melodies ever on Same Old World.

The album has strong strains of punk-folk, gypsy Balkan traditional, sea-shanties, Franco-dirty tangos, ragtime piano, and slow laments. Which all somehow get together to create an anarchic vaudevillian mix which is packed full of energy. Something Julian does seem to be very much aware of as he charismatically hollers “everything I saw comes out as a growl, or a crude dirty howl.” There is a seamless movement between the offbeat, jaunty, discordant tracks which rise and fall with dramatic precision, helping to create a theatrical atmosphere.

Even in its slower moments there is a sense that his energy is still lurking beneath the surface. The final track, At the Edge of the World works as a nice reflective conclusion to the album as it accurately invokes a feeling reminiscent of a Saturday morning after a heavy Friday night.

The tracks carry a universal appeal, as they go sailing through the experiences of; the pain of lost love, the importance of freedom of spirit, violent lust, the emptiness of Capitalism, retrospective reflection, awareness of your own futility, purposeful drinking, the feeling that you’re not quite enough for someone, the importance of dreams, remorse for the end of an era, and the fresh expectations of new love.

This rambunctious album encapsulates a diverse range of genres, and whatever Gaskell’s voice lacks in tunefulness he makes up for in intense enthusiasm. Your imagination has to provide the gypsy dancing girls, the rum, and the candlelight but Gaskell does the rest. –

Rosamund Woodruffe

March 2012 – Folkworld.EU

Step into a tumbledown world of gypsy-punk accordion, surf klezmer, speak-easy ragtime, intellectual drinking and protest songs, romantic piano torch ballads, sweet musette waltzes, weeping country laments, violent tangos and stomping balkan skiffle beats… Singer-songwriter and one-man-orchestra Julian Gaskell howls and hollers as if Tom Waits came from a Roma family and punk had its origins in cabaret and circus.

March 2012 – Manchester Music

For those who may be too young to know, Manchester’s music scene at the turn of the noughties was a battle ground between post-Madchester / Oasis apathy and despondency and a pioneering new wave /punk rock scene that pre-dated any efforts from both London and New York. Long abandoned by the NME et al, Manchester decided to cut its own furrow and from maybe around 20 or so bands, the new frontier was forged – and amongst its legion was Loafer, headed by one Julian Gaskell.

Having left Manchester sometime after, his subsequent albums and role as a musical director and composer have been delivered to great acclaim. On his latest solo album “Kind Words From Home”, there is something of a return to his roots. The punk influenced mixture of The Clash and The Specials does battle with the more complex pretenders to the Gyspy punk throne, such as Gogol Bordello and The Penny Black Remedy. In truth Gaskell has been there first (by a long chalk) and has refined his art over a decade. So on tracks like “Galitsian Trash” the guitar is furiously carving out a complicated riff alongside violins and accordions, with both a dizzying and frenetic tempo. I’ve always preferred to compare Gaskell to The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn, at least in terms of energy and commitment – there’s always a political or social comment worth memorising and holding on for posterity. Throughout this rather wonderful album, folk ballads (the clambering “We Had A Ball”), Country (the wild west bar room “Up Country Waltz”) sea shanties and wild fusions of the new wave abound, from one of Britain’s more genuine and credible exponents of the genre.

March 2012 – West Briton

GOD bless Julian Gaskell and all who sail in him, whether they be a Kernewek Tom Waits, a berserk klezmer band, Joe Strummer gone Weimar jazz or Kurt Weill punching The Pogues  He’s multifaceted is Falmouth-based Julian. Just listen to his superb new album Kind Words From Home.  Singer and songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and one-man garage orchestra Julian howls and hollers his way through a global cacophony; with his weak r’s and Estuary English he sounds not unlike John Otway if Otway wrote politicised drinking songs, piano torch ballads or manic Balkan stompfests.  Having honed his craft with punk-folk bands, Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and Icons of Poundland, Julian has spent the past two years touring the world with Cornwall-based theatre companies Rogue and Bash Street to great acclaim.  He is one of Cornwall’s great singular talents – check out the album and its launch at the Fish Factory, Falmouth, on Saturday from 8pm.

February 2012 – Western Morning News (Feature)

Julian Gaskell looks and sounds like he’s been plucked in wild full flow from an eastern European gypsy encampment in another century.  His is a magical, tumbledown world where raggle-taggle punk accordion meets surf klezmer, speakeasy ragtime, where torch ballads snuggle with sweet waltzes, and protest and drinking songs nestle alongside weeping country laments, violent tangos and Balkan skiffle grooves.

All these elements combine in the repertoire and demeanour of a man whose creative juices flow both at home on a Falmouth housing estate and out on the road as current musician in residence with Cornwall-based Rogue Theatre Company’s Devil and the Dancer production.  Some may also know mustachioed, bespectacled, multi-instrumentalist and singer Julian from his days with his band, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.  Now he’s about to unleash a new, homegrown solo album which observes and comments on the stuff and nonsense of contemporary society.

Its title Kind Words From Home, reflects his nomadic existence over the past two years, touring the world with both Rogue, and Bash Street Theatre, for whom he wrote and performed critically acclaimed silent movie piano scores and cabaret-style show tunes.  The LP is a moreish, richly narrative and evocative concoction. As well as playing everything from accordion, piano, mandolin and drums through to cello, violin, mandolin, balalaika, washboard, tambourine, tea chest and glockenspiel, Julian howls and hollers his way through sharp, tender and often humorous lyrics. One minute he’ll be drawling cowboy-style, the next murmuring almost inaudibly, the next shouting punk-style. There’s suspense, drama, love and merry-making aplenty, embellished by contributions from former Ragged bandmates Thomas Sharpe and Kester Jones.

“There quite a lot of homesickness in the album,” says Julian, a perennial troubadour. “The title comes from a line in the song The Drunken Tourist, which is quite autobiographical.  “I did a couple of gigs in Poland on my own while I was on tour with the theatre company; it’s about being alone in a strange place and having nothing in common with the people around you expect that you all want to be somewhere else. It’s not about a bar in Poland, specifically, it’s something universal.”

Julian enjoys touring with the theatre, as essential bread and butter work, and being part of a group. But, now 39, Julian felt it was time to go his own way and concentrate on recording and delivering a very personal repertoire. He grew up playing piano, then injected all his energy into the punk vibe, before settling on a magpie-like recipe that makes his music the sum of everything he’s ever listened to and loved.

“You wouldn’t recognise my music from ten years ago. I’ve taken my cue from London Calling by The Clash, which a mix of all the different styles they were exposed to. In this modern age you can play what you like,” explains Julian, who used to work as a sound engineer in Manchester. “I’ve spent two years listening to Django Reinhardt, trying to play like him.  “It’s easy to get lost in his 1930s world of gypsy jazz and then everything outside seems weird. Cornwall is great because you can be in your own little world here.”

Nevertheless, an initial London show airing some of the new tunes went very well. Now Julian is embarking on a national tour of one-man band shows, with a couple of low-key local warm-ups next month.  “I’m not aiming for global superstardom. If you do what you do with enough passion, that enthusiasm will carry it through, I think.”

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