One of the brightest and most individual new artists tipped to breakthrough in 2016, Meilyr Jones could arguably be categorised as a new romantic, in so much as he cites the likes of Lord Byron among the inspirations for the songs on his upcoming debut album later this year.
“I conceived of the record as a compilation of myself, over the period of a year,” says Jones. “As an anthology, a collection of my songs and of what happened to me in that year.” The year in question was 2013 - which is also the album's title. Proving to be a formative year in Jones' life, 2013 also saw him make a short but significant trip to Rome, driven by a fascination with sculpture and Byron, and by a desire “to see something new and different.”
“I’d go out every day, walking for hours, go to churches, just to see paintings,” he says. He spoke no Italian but embraced the local lifestyle. “There was this spirit – that again I’d felt in Byron’s poetry – that was sweet but also really resilient.”
“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,” Jones continues. “And I wanted to capture that feeling in Rome of high culture and low-brow stuff all mixed together.”
Retracing moments of Byron's great tour might be unconventional source material for a young man from Aberystwyth in the 21st Century, but it appears to have resulted in a strong collection of songs that exhibit an unusually fine wit and erudite musical sensibility.
The latest single to be released from 2013 is the aptly titled 'Featured Artist'. Watch the video below.
“It’s told from the perspective of an old man, kind of like Jacques Brel or Orson Welles,” Jones explains. “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.”
'Featured Artist' follows the earlier success of 'Refugees' and 'How To Recognise a Work of Art', both of which also appear on 2013.
Returning to London from Rome, Jones decided to set about recording. He had conceived five of the songs as orchestral pieces, so he assembled a 30-strong orchestra “out of friends, and friends of friends of friends.”
“I wanted to record it completely live,” Jones explains. “The idea was doing it like a Frank Sinatra session.” Over the course of a day they recorded the main body of the tracks 'Olivia', 'Return to Life', 'Passionate Friend', 'Rome' and 'Be Soft', the songs later embellished with further additions including: a community choir in Glasgow, field recordings of birds, three trombonists recorded in a cemetery.
Although 2013 is Jones’s first solo album he has previously played bass on tour for Gruff Rhys and Neon Neon, and has also worked with Stealing Sheep.
2013 is due for release 18th March on Moshi Moshi. Listen to the beautiful track 'All Is Equal In Love' below, which was the b-side to Meilyr's previous single 'To Recognise A Work of Art'.
Catch Meilyr Jones Live this Summer:
Monday 25th April - Ramsgate - Music Hall
Tuesday 26th April - London - Moth Club
Wednesday 27th April - Birmingham - Sunflower Lounge
Friday 29th April - Liverpool - Studio 2
Monday 2nd May - Newcastle - Cluny
Tuesday 3rd May - Glasgow - King Tuts
Friday 13th May - Cardiff - Clwb Ifor Bach
Saturday 14th May - Wrexham - Focus Wales
Saturday 11th June - London - Field Day
Saturday 23rd July - North Yorkshire - Deershed Festival
18-21 August - Green Man Festival