BALCONYTV DUBLIN 21/02/2010
PRESENTED BY TOM MILLETT
Jude Shiels is the son of Brush Shiels. But lets not hold that against
him Whether you think of Irish icon Brush as a clown or a seer,
a rock god or a cabaret artiste or just a crazy man with an amplifier soldered
at 11, if youre talking about Jude Shiels as a guitarist, vocalist and
songwriter in his own right, his das notoriety is the elephant in the room. So
lets push Jumbo out the door right now and say that the aspects of Judes
heritage that inform his own music are ones of attitude and approach – that
indefatigable Brush-esque belief in seeing the glass as never less than half full;
in seeing anything as possible; and in seeing it as being possible by roughly
this time tomorrow, and back home in time for the footie on TV.
Without Silence was largely written and recorded in the space of 6 weeks, but
that belies a whole lifetime of thought, care and experience leading up to it.
Jude has absorbed and studied music of all kinds, playing second guitar in
Brushs popular road band on the one hand and, on the other, exploring with
great respect the recordings and styles of those he most admires iconic cool
jazz vocalist Chet Baker; Duke Ellingtons alto sax man Johnny Hodges;
pioneering jazz guitarist Charlie Christian (best known from Benny Goodmans
sextet recordings); genre-founding European gypsy jazz stylist Django
Reinhardt; and be-bop sax legend Charlie Parker. Add in the influence of
British/Irish folk music and Latin-American rhythms and you get the sound of
Jude Shiels an effortless-sounding three-continent fusion of musical history
re-envisaged in a beautifully fresh, deceptively natural sound for today.
The world has enough people who can copy Chet Baker, Django and Charlie
Parker forensically and yet who deliver, in the end, very little of their own
personality. A perfect forgery of the Mona Lisa will always be impressive yet
always valueless. What Jude has created on Without Silence is a whole gallery
of new canvases, learning from the masters and taking their time-locked
visions to unknown places of todays world, from the dreamy corners of his
mind and the sunny fields of County Meath, Ireland, his home.
Judes music is easy on the ear, it sounds familiar as a musical palette but be
in no doubt that its a cunning blend a musical soufflé of influences that takes
skill and experience to bind so effortlessly, but where the soft delight of the
end result to the consumer is all that matters, not the knowledge of how tricky
it might be to put on the plate. As Judes dad found himself over the course of
decades, you can be as clever as Albert Einstein on your instrument, but the
vast majority of people will always prefer simple melodies and easy
entertainment to wild complexity. Jude has deftly managed a confluence of
both. And you cant spot the join.
Mood is everything in Judes music, and yet mood without content is useful only
to those in the elevator business. His songs are a series of dreamscapes for
the mind – little screenplays conjured from the clouds, gentle musings from an
inquisitive, compassionate observer of life.
The result is a sound world that is both instantly nostalgic – like Stan Getz and
Astrud Gilbertos sunny bossa nova grooves from the 60s as much as Chet
Bakers icy wastes of cool from the 50s – and incessantly new. Its like seeing
something you only thought existed in black and white suddenly come alive in
glorious Technicolor. Judes music exists in a pastoral, happy, sunlit place, not
the desolate, late-night, urban, monochrome bohemia of New York in the age
before rocknroll. Judes music doesnt scream and shout for attention, but its
unassuming, unpretentious atmosphere of joy, possibility and playfulness is a
wonderful antidote to the hard times and bleak visions of the modern world.
We could all use it.
Tune in again tomorrow!!!