Today, John Richard releases his second album, ‘Lost in Dublin’. Following up on his 2014 debut, ‘Blue Valley’, which had seen him nominated for Music NB‘s Blues Artist of the Year, ‘Lost in Dublin’ is a strong sequel. The album incorporates elements of soul, rock, and folk into the mix, all around a solid blues basis, making for a very well-rounded listening experience.
‘Lost in Dublin’ opens with ‘I Fall Apart’, a track equally dominated by the soulful vocals and the extended instrumental sections featuring some truly skillful blues guitar work, coming off as a hybrid of the best parts of Hozier, Van Morrison, and Led Zepplin. Following on this strong opening are the catchy blues ramble ‘Some Things Never Get Paid’ and the slower, bass-heavy groove of ‘Volumes of Beautiful Words’, both incredibly enjoyable tracks in their own right. The vocal patterns and cadences he’s using mixed with some heavy solos are great for a dark Irish blues feel.
Richard’s versatility as a songwriter shines brightest in tracks such as ‘I Can’t Help It’ and ‘I Wish You’d Come With Me’. Both are slower, passionately sung blues/soul fusion tracks that speak of inner conflict, heartbreak, and emotional pain. Richard was happy to share some of his other musical influences with us as well: “Blues is always a big inspiration for subject matter and vocal delivery, song structure, this time around I wanted to sweeten it up a bit and drew from guys like Otis Redding, Sam Cook, and Lee Moses.”
One of the core inspirations behind ‘Lost in Dublin’ was a solo trip to the eponymous city, an experience that bled heavily through to the writing and recording of the album. John Richard described the trip to us as being charged with “an excitement about being overseas for the first time, romanticism and loneliness about being in such a classic place alone, times when it was great to be alone, times when it would have been nice to share with someone. It’s a city that’s seen its share of troubled times, so its tough, but friendly at the same time.”
Perhaps the most notable track on the album is ‘Black Church’, a 7-minute long dark blues jam driven by a sinister drum and bass arrangement. The song tells the tale of a drunk staggering into an ancient, cursed church, drawing inspiration from Richard’s globe-trotting experience. Richard describes the song as “a challenge to myself to depart from the emotional and personal songs I’m more accustomed to writing. This one was historical, drew on local legend, research into the occult a bit, all tying it together into a new story built on a Dublin mythology. The challenge was a take a song of that length and keep it interesting to the listener over seven minutes, so the music had to tell much of the story as well.”
At its most basic level, ‘Lost in Dublin’ is an excellent album, but just leaving it at that is somewhat of a disservice. The extensive level of skill and effort put into the album should cannot be overstated, with each track a solidly-constructed piece taking a different approach to John Richard’s distinctive sound. All in all, ‘Lost in Dublin’ is a well-written album loaded with charm, soul, and fantastic music, and is well worth sitting down for a good listen.