“I never did believe in ghosts until I saw out six months in a haunted house.”
And so it was in this setting that Chris Cleverley’s debut album Apparitions was conceived.“An album as much about hauntings as it is about memory, and the fine line that can separate the two.”
For some time now, whispers have been spreading far and wide around the new British Folk Scene about Chris Cleverley and his haunting tales of ghost women, lonesome clock towers, lovelorn mariners and hospital beds.
October 2015 saw the release of Cleverley’s eagerly awaited debut full length album, which captures perfectly the roots of his singer/songwriter approach for which he has been well known in the Midlands for a number of years. The songs themselves –through the recording process – have developed however into something new altogether, appearing as full band arrangements, featuring the musicians who regularly appear in his live band, including contributions from renowned singer/songwriters Dan Whitehouse and Kim Lowings, as well as string arrangements by Marion Fleetwood of Meet On The Ledge and the Jigantics.
Chris says of the album, which features both original songs and arrangements of traditional tunes,
“The record is very much grounded in the British and American folk traditions on which I was raised. The complexity of the fingerstyle guitar techniques of the folk revival players -Nic Jones, John Renbourn, Martin Simpson – have shaped my playing immeasurably and it was essential this influence came across throughout. It’s remarkable though the direction a record can take from start to finish; such a huge variety of influences creep in, almost unnoticed. I’ve always been fascinated by harmony, big arrangements, dramatic crescendos, and the guidance of contemporary artists like Elliott Smith and Bon Iver certainly led the way with my musical experiments when making the album.”
Lyrically, the album is an exploration of ideas of the self. It is an album conceived from images of the past – of ghosts both real and imagined – and explores how these images of common experiences can be interpreted to explain and even vindicate our own feelings of detachment, discomfort and uncertainty.
“The songs themselves are as much personal reflections as they are stories, timepieces of specific events that have reoccurred and manifested over centuries of human experience in identical forms. Much like the ghosts that wandered the corridors and bedchambers of that house in which I wrote the record.”
Chris’ Spring and Autumn 2015 tours have taken these songs around the UK and further afield onto the Continent too, all the while showcasing his trademark solo live sound; A sound at times likened to the magnitude of a full orchestra only to moments later pull audiences to the very edge of their seats to soak in the delicate spider-like touch of his fingerstyle guitar playing.
Chris has gone from strength to strength since winning Bristol Folk Festival’s 2014 ‘Isambard Folk Award’, joining the ranks of previous winners such as BBC folk award nominees Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker, followed up by a memorable performance at 2014’s Stroud Folk Festival.
From touring the UK festivals to sharing the bill with such notable folk artists as Martin Simpson, Spiers & Boden, Martha Tilston and Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman, Chris has stirred up a formidable word-of-mouth reputation and glowing reports of his debut record in the national folk press.