Listen to “Broken Man”

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…on Apple Music

…on Spotify

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[col_two last=”true”]Back to the style that caused me to pick up a guitar in the first place: blues. A style known for its frank story-telling and raw, recognisable, even clichéd structure. Cultivated among the oppressed of North America, the oldest songs were captured onto primitive wax discs – sometimes by travelling “music collectors” who realised the value of the culture that they represented. [/col_two]
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In our affluent and distant situation, we still hear echoes of their heart-cries and even here they resonate. These blues songs are marked by a clarity and immediacy emanating from lives that were cruel and yet were somehow often filled with a sense of transcendent hope. A hope perhaps due to their echoes of “Gospel” (in all senses of that word).

“Broken Man” speaks of someone oppressed. He walks through a city, stares at a TV, views himself in the mirror and all that he sees drives him to his knees in disappointment, disillusionment and despair…

Our culture, despite all of its promise, can seem so empty. For so many, it doesn’t follow through on the glittering and extravagant dreams dangled just out of reach… What if we’re looking the wrong way?

In the last verse, our broken man stands before an object he has seen countless times – and yet something that had become invisible to him – obscured as it was by the razzmatazz and desperate surging force of culture in a different direction. Now, as he stares – as though for the first time – this is no longer some observed icon. Instead, he experiences an overwhelming sense that this is the place of love-come-down and haunting grace.

Broken Man

This broken man stands before a billboard.
He stares at plastic perfection and “beauty”:
life out of reach, life never known.
There’s a pang of loss as he averts his aching eyes.

This broken man stands before a TV
and witnesses premeditated violence and war:
life snatched by death, life stained by fear.
He stifles unexplained guilt as he reaches for the remote.

And in his heart he kneels: overwhelmed.
Yes, in his heart he kneels: who can rescue us now?
This broken man?

This broken man stands before a mirror
and he stares at who he really is.
Life that slides by. Life left behind.
He searches for a glory that perhaps was never there.

And in his heart he kneels: overwhelmed.
Yes, in his heart he kneels: he’s just another,
broken man.

This broken man stands before a wood cross
and he stares at love come down and haunting grace.
Life poured out. Life exchanged.
The pierced hands of a God who reaches out.

Something resonates deep in his soul…

and in his heart he kneels – with nothing to bring.
He kneels – before this crucified King…
He kneels – and does he hear heaven sing?
-for this broken man.

Listen to “A Place?”

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…on Apple Music

…on Spotify

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[col_two last=”true”]“Another Earth” is a science fiction film directed by Mike Cahill that premiered at the 27th Sundance Film Festival. As the film begins, 17 year old Rhoda crashes into a family: apparently killing them all. She is sent to prison, serves her time and yet, on her return to society, she still carries a deep sense of her own guilt. Through the film she meets others wrestling with their own demons and then realises a spectacular way that she may be able to find, [/col_two]
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“another ‘her’ who had not made the same mistakes that she had made…”

The film echoes with a longing that fills so many of our own souls: for guilt to be taken away – a yearning for forgiveness.

It was after watching “Another Earth” that I wrote, “A Place”.

The refrain is filled with the claim of Jesus Christ that He comes with the power to bring liberation and forgiveness. To lives restrained from experiencing fullness, He is the “I am” – for whom we long.

The song opens with dawn chorus birdsong – captured by Lester while the rest of us were sleeping – light piano over double bass all stepping to jazz waltz timing… “Is there a Place?”

 

A Place?

Is there a place
where I could be forgiven?
Is there a place
where I could be free?
Is there a place
of no condemnation?
Is there a place
for someone like me?

Is there a way
my wrong could be passed over?
Is there a way
to lose it in the deepest sea?
Is there a way
that I could touch heaven?
Is there a way
that heaven could come to me?

I am the way
I am the truth
I am the life
I am

I hear Your voice
and it whispers, whispers to me.
I hear Your voice
and it echoes in my soul.
I hear the voice
of loving liberation –
I hear the voice
of the One who
waits to make me whole,

I am the way…

Listen to “A Hill”

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…on Apple Music

…on Spotify

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[col_two last=”true”]With Lester’s creatively painted soundscape, I see the bleak, lonely hill before the words begin.

Played in Eb minor, with the guitar tuned down a semitone, this is the key used to accompany the monolithic brutalist art of authoritarian regimes of the twentieth century. [/col_two]
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The focus of the song reels to the hill where state-sponsored executions take place: Skull Hill – Golgotha. But today the dying One is innocent, bringing about what some would say is the most significant revolution ever to sweep human – even cosmic – history.

From discordant harmonics played on the guitar to a backing choir singing in Latin, we wanted this song to resonate with something horrific and that yet births hope.

The last verse of this song is taken from an ancient poet – Isaiah – who spoke of a hill where the most evil curse of all would be conquered. So many of the best stories seem to echo with this theme of curse resolving to unexpected liberation and celebration through an intervention “from outside”.

As the great story writer, Tolkein, described,

“…a sudden glimpse of Truth, your whole nature chained in material cause and effect, the chain of death, feels a sudden relief as if a major limb out of joint had suddenly snapped back. It perceives… that this is indeed how things really do work in the Great World for which our nature is made.”

 

A Hill

There’s a hill outside a city
– a place for losers, waste and dirt.
It’s a place of execution,
of misery, pain and retribution,
where vengeance is meted out.

There’s a hill now with a cross raised.
A hill where men cry out.
Hear shouts of condemnation,
of agitated satisfaction,
as an anguished figure gasps.

And it’s a hill of bones
and skulls
and death
and blood.

Now from the hill, piercing last words.
They ring like, “Father, forgive.”
“It is finished”
cuts gathering darkness
and rocks and tombs begin to shake.

And it’s a hill of bones…

But it’s a hill of broken curses,
it’s a hill of bittersweet.
A hill of liberation –
a hill where grace takes her seat.

And on this hill the Lord Almighty
prepares a banquet feast
– aged wine, rich food of celebration –
‘cause on this hill He destroyed the
shroud that covers every nation.

Yes, on this hill He swallowed up death forever,
And on this hill he’ll wipe each tear stained eye,
‘cause on this hill he removed the disgrace of His people:
He removed the disgrace that’s yours and that’s mine.

Listen to “Saviour?”

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…on Apple Music

…on Spotify

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[col_two last=”true”]I climbed a tower in the centre of town with a friend to “show” him London. Rooftops and clamour stretched into the apparent infinite distance – yet it seemed devoid of life that grey afternoon…

It is this urban scene that is framed by the couple’s window at the beginning of “Saviour”. Gazing in different directions, they subtly clash. She has some defiant hope in the transcendent – a connection possible beyond the passing moment – but he claims no time for such fantasies.[/col_two]
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Down at street level wandering under an overpass – perhaps pushing a trolley or wearing a sandwich board – there’s the obscure, eccentric old man. Prophet-like, he speaks of “One”.

As I ride away on a double-decker in the mess and chaos of a night bus in the rain, I reflect back on these characters and the question that echoes…

In this song the exuberant and extravagant genre of funk with horns and driving bass, meets the story-telling blues. It is written in the guitar’s favourite key of E, where all of the wood and string harmonics resonate. When we play it live as a band, the song just seems to drive itself.

 

Calling

This part of the city seems so empty,
this part of the city seems to have no soul.
She stares out over distant rooftops,
she stares out: tries to see where she’s from.

And he – he sips at his super-fruit fruit shake.
He says there’s no way – he says there’s no hope.
And she, I don’t know why, she stares at the ceiling
I don’t know why she looks back when he’s gone.

And it seems to me that
we’re all looking for something.
And it seems to me that
we’re all longing for something.

I heard you say we all need some saviour.
I heard you say we can’t wait too long.
Old man on the corner: says he’s met some “Jesus”
the old man on the corner says that this is the One.

And it seems to me that
we’re all looking for someone.
And it seems to me that
we’re all looking for someone.

There’s One who says,
“Come – if your burden’s heavy.”
And there’s One who says,
“Come, come to me.”

Riding on the top deck, rain-lashed windows,
riding on the top deck and cans roll at my feet.
There’s something you said that sticks in my head:
something you said keeps coming back to me:

“There’s One who says,
“Come, come.”

Listen to Calling…

L1 - Calling - Andy Mayo - Lavish Stories and Songs

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…on Apple Music

…on Spotify

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[col_two last=”true”]Sitting on a beach in North Cornwall, dramatic clouds wrestle with a determined late-August sun. The kaleidoscope sky swims with colour as dusk approaches.

Ancient stories and songs, a mysterious lightness of spirit – even a joy – over beauty, and that sense of hope and purpose. It sometimes seems that we are surrounded by – crowded by – hints of the transcendent.

Comprised of wistful major-seventh chords with their unexpected harmony, “Is there One who is beyond, outside and who calls?”[/col_two]
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Nick Beston is playing the saxophone throughout this album. We first became friends after creating a pop-up jazz café in a bus in New Cross, South London. He has an incredible sense of melody and harmony: the centre of our five-piece band when playing these songs live. It is Nick’s notes that open this album…

Lester Barnes – known for brilliant film scores – creates the arrangement including the nostalgic music box riff that invokes memories of fairy-tales, kings and hints of a purpose.

I wrote this song after all of the others to deliberately sit at the front of the album – to set the scene for the “story” of the rest of “Lavish”. My hope is to defiantly point us towards the questions that I think our culture is wired to induce us to suppress – and yet those that perhaps are the most important ones of all to be asking.

 

Calling

There’s a whisper of love

that starts a story;

a wind-borne rumour

that’s reaching to me.

There’s an echo of a song,

a sweet melody

  and it hangs on the breeze.

 

“I’m calling for you, my love. 

“I’m calling for you, my love.”

 

There’s a reflection of light

that pierces the grey,

dappled refractions

hint dawning of day.

There’s a spectrum of colour,

an escaping ray,

and it warms to crimson.

 

“I’m calling for you…” 

There’s a vague sense of hope

that pervades your heart,

it keeps you breathing

in the dark.

There’s a tale of a purpose

in which you might play a part:

your soul is dreaming.

 

“I’m calling for you…”

Edinburgh

As promised, a few more images from 2015 so far…

Another highlight was playing in Edinburgh for the university events week. Here, my main role was to illustrate talks by Michael Green using the songs…

In Edinburgh, my main role was to illustrate talks by Michael Green using music...
In Edinburgh, my main role was to illustrate talks by Michael Green using music…
Great crowds at these events...
Great crowds at these events – venue, the massive and historic Greyfriars.

Live Music through 2015…

Great Cafe culture in Copenhagen... ideal for these events!

It’s been a busy few months playing in Edinburgh, London, Swansea, Sienna, Florence, Copenhagen…

As well as solo events, it has been great to work with friends like Michael Ots, Lindsay Brown, Michael Green who use these live songs as “illustrations” or “moments of reflection” during their talks to universities or other groups.

I’ll post a few shots over the next few days of some of these events!

Great Cafe culture in Copenhagen... ideal for these events!
Great Cafe culture in Copenhagen… ideal for these events!

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Stories behind the Songs – “Lavish” – COMING SOON –

TurquoiseTracksQRCodeWe are now putting together short articles to tell the “Stories behind the Songs” for each track on the album, “Lavish”.

These will be published very soon!

Just like on the album, “Acoustic Café”, you’ll be able to scan the QR codes to connect to the story behind each song.

To give you a flavour of what these short stories are like, here’s a video from Acoustic Cafe – “Dreams of a Homecoming”.

Click here to see the next video in this Acoustic Café “Stories and Songs” series.

 

Parking and directions for the Pamoja Hall – “Lavish Launch” 21st November 2014

Here’s a map to reach the venue for the album launch tonight – parking map below!

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Parking details are below – Sevenoaks School is a big campus and the entrance we will use is the one that is the furthest from Sevenoaks town centre. There are roadworks currently on this entrance making it less clear than usual!

Once on the campus, park in the Duke’s Meadows Car Park or follow the roads around to the left to park nearer to the venue. On the map below, the venue complex is called, “The Space”

If you have friends you want to bring, there will be tickets available on the door.

See you there!

Pamoja Parking

Prague, Krakow…

It’s been a great week in the universities in Prague and Krakow. Working with Michael Ots and others from the FEUER network, we’ve been in some beautiful clubs in these two amazing cities – speaking and singing about the biggest themes…

Krakow Club

 

 

Now looking forward to the Lavish Album Launch on 21st November with the whole band…