Track Exclusive: James Johnston (Gallon Drunk) “Heart and Soul”

Live version of a key track from the artist’s remarkable new solo album, The Starless Room.

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By Fred Mills

Sharp-eyed readers know the name James Johnston: He’s the frontman for Britain’s eternally brilliant Gallon Drunk [official website is HERE] as well as an in-demand sideman for the likes of—you may have heard of some of these—Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, PJ Harvey (whose Hope Six Demolition Project, which features Johnston, was recently nominated for a Grammy), and Marianne Faithfull.

He’s now got a solo album, The Starless Room, and he recently sat down with BLURT’s resident Gallon Drunk expert, Jonathan Levitt, to discuss the new record. “I needed to do something different, I wanted to try something fresh, something I wasn’t familiar with,” explained Johnston. “Something that reflected more what I like to listen to myself. It just developed from there, encouraged and helped along by Johann Scheerer, the producer.”

Stay tuned for the entire interview next week, and meanwhile, Johnston graciously provided us with an exclusive track to get the readers’ appetites whetted. It’s from a live studio event recorded earlier this year by Linda Gerdes at the Clouds Hill festival. Check out “Heart and Soul” – you can stream it or download for your personal playlist.

Incidentally, Johnston has also created a series of videos in which he discusses the writing of each track on the album. Go HERE to view the clip for “Heart and Soul” and HERE for the “Track by Track” section of his YouTube channel. Meanwhile, you can read Levitt’s previous interview with Johnston, in which he discusses Gallon Drunk’s classic album From the Heart of Town, as part of our “The Story Behind The Album” series.

Photo Credit: Steve Gullick

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