One of the great things about the TakeRoot festival in Groningen is that you’ll get to see some of your favourite acts perform and always will discover one or more new favourites. In the build up to the 2022 edition, Irish folk singer John Blek became just that. His song Lyric & Air is something else and should one day be titled a modern classic if you ask me. So, I was delighted when Blek agreed to record this song and two covers of Townes van Zandt and Tim Hardin for The Influences.
2023’s Until The Rivers Run Dry is the eighth album from the prolific Cork-based folk artist. Eight albums in seven years time. The record features vocals by Cathy Davey and strings by Colm Mac Con Iomaire (The Frames) as well as Kit Downes on piano, Davey Ryan on drums and Chris McCarthy playing double bass.
Covering I’ll Be Here In The Morning seemed only logical to John Blek: “I – like most people who have ever tried to put pen to paper – am a massive Townes van Zandt fan and this is one of my favourites. I sing it often at gigs and it’s always a satisfying song to play.”
“This song helps me remind myself of what’s important.”
The second cover John Blek recorded is a Tim Hardin song. “If I Were A Carpenter is a beautiful song with a simple theme. It’s a piece of writing that has taught me that lyricism does not need to be complex or convoluted to be meaningful and effective in portraying the message. It’s a song I always return to when I need to remind myself of what’s important.”
“My love letter to the simple joy of singing a song.”
The original that Blek played in this session is truly one of the best songs I’ve heard in years. I simply can’t stop listening to it. “I wrote Lyric & Air as a duet with Cathy Davey’s voice in mind. She’s a songwriter I have great admiration for and the sentiment of this song is my homage to all her wonderful ear-worm melodies that have remained stuck in my head for so many years. It’s my love letter to the simple joy of singing a song.”
Filmed by Matthijs van der Ven & David Lawson Froggatt.
Edited by Matthijs van der Ven.
Audio recorded & mixed by Matthijs van der Ven.
Take Root Festival
Groningen, The Netherlands
David Lawson Froggatt