Yesterday I bought the album How Many Glasgow by Jad Fair, Tenniscoats and Norman Blake on Japanese import and I have been enjoying a lovely Sunday evening lying in bed listening to it with headphones on, watching the sun go down on a lovely sunny April weekend in Glasgow.
So how did the album come about?
In 2012 Jad and Norman were invited by Daniel Johnston to play at one of his exhibitions in Madrid. The duo subsequently went to Japan to tour with Tenniscoats (Saya and Ueno Takashi) and after two shows in Tokyo they booked a recording session; How Many Glasgow is the result of that session with most of the tracks recorded in 2 or 3 takes over the course of 2-days.
Jad's description is spot on. The album has a very warm feeling to it - 4 friends coming together to create and record an album virtually on the spot.
The artists combine well - the music is relatively simple; largely finger picked guitar with some keyboards, organ and a little percussion. Jad's contribution is improvised spoken word with Tenniscoats making up backing vocal melodies on the spot.
Jad's lyrics are all about love and hope, his voice is very easy and at times very soothing to listen to. Tenniscoats sound utterly gorgeous.
There are some sublime moments; Yes, We Can is an early highlight while Reading Bubbles with the Japanese vocals and melody is absolutely stunning. Jad's mellow and calm spoken word section combines beautifully with those of Tenniscoats. Then it is the turn of Norman to sing with Tenniscoats on the beautiful Raindrops (track 4).
This Is A Time is probably my favourite song on the album; it has a lovely feel to it and all 3 artists are at their best - Norman playing some mellow guitar, Tenniscoats playing some subtle keyboards and singing backing vocals while Jad is at his romantic best.
Doowee Do (track 11) has Norman singing in Japanese and harmonising with Tenniscoats and The Door Will Open is a fragile beauty.
The way the album was recorded is captured beautifully at the start of I Have A Plan with Jad and Tenniscoats laughing as they begin - the song is another highlight.
The closing Yo Yo Yo! is clear evidence that this is an improvised album, this is just a fun jam, sounding like it was recorded in one take - but who cares when you have songs like those mentioned above.
Norman and Jad play Mono in Glasgow on Monday 18th May. Tickets HERE