Buckinghamshire based folk singer/songwriter Jon Bickley has a number of albums under his belt both as a solo artist and in collaboration. His solo live performances are a mix of traditional folk, blues plus many originals. His own songs have strong melodies, imagery and emotion whether writing about love, politics or putting his own spin on old folk tales. He has a strong line in political observation describing the struggles and rights of the common man. Time has shown that it is the rich who write the history, but it is the poor that write the songs of the people.
Jon’s most recent release, the solo acoustic all original Songs for Juliet, is an even split between songs of pure love and those of gnawing doubt that his love could be unrequited. The tender longing of Two Magpies might be Ray LaMontagne or Damien Rice, Sail away to Sea might be Paul Simon or Tim Buckley. Yet there seems to be a significant other in Juliet’s past whose influence cannot quite be shaken off. Dylan and Cohen show up for the jealous You Still Carry a Torch for Him and the tour de force that is Dreaming of the Past. The album closes with the optimistic The Sun is Coming Up where the singer assures us that it’s going to be alright. Great tunes with vivid and passionate lyrics!
Fine words have been spoken by national publications and fellow performers. Probably the most honest view to date though came from a local journalist. ‘The solo Jon Bickley is a gritty down to earth beast. I managed to grab a few minutes while he was packing up after a folk club gig. He looked a bit drained after his performance and like a man who’s been around the block. Life’s tough sometimes, so what’s new? Well I soon warmed to the fact that’s he’s clearly authentic, his songs come out of personal experience and sharp observation of the human condition. I suggested that some of his songs appear to be deeply personal and was he worried that his audience might feel discomfited. The candid response was that such emotions are powerful but not exclusive to him and most people can relate to them in some shape or form.’
Most of Jon’s albums feature at least a couple of traditional songs. Folk songs can be likened to an ordinary man’s Shakespeare in that they too can be reinterpreted for each generation. While researching for new material Jon was drawn to Reynardine (made famous by Fairport Convention) in which a girl disappears. If that happened today the police would be called. Where would they look? What clues would they find? Jon’s song Rebecca Falls drops a detective into the narrative of Reynardine to investigate the girl’s disappearance.
The most recent collaborative release is with Pagan Harvest, a trio combining folk with the more subtle elements of progressive rock. The music is inspired by the English landscape, the sense of place that is found in Shakespeare’s forests and moors or Wordsworth’s mountains, streams and even on Westminster Bridge. Bickley’s poetic story telling lyrics are rooted in folk and the rich orchestration frequently gives the album an epic quality. It is easy to imagine some of the arrangements on the soundtrack to Game of Thrones!
Jon and Pagan Harvest have been fortunate to work with young film maker Ian Yarwood to produce a number of quality promotional films showcasing the songs plus a mini documentary about Rebecca Falls. Jon albums are available through Amazon/iTunes. He also has his first volume of poetry in the pipeline.
WWW (includes promo photos) http://www.jonbickley.com/
Jon Bickley YouTube Channel https://plus.google.com/105911460179471363786/videos
Pagan Harvest YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC28jyeUVJ4Glk1bKn0VQohA/videos