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The wait for a new John Grant album is finally, almost over – June 25th, 2021 will mark the arrival of the singer-songwriter’s fifth solo album, Boy from Michigan. To celebrate the occasion, Grant has shared an astonishing acid-soaked video to the album’s title track directed by Casey and Ewan.

 

Of the track, Grant says, “the song sprang from a moment I experienced when I was about 11 and we were about to move to Colorado from Michigan; my best buddy took me aside and warned me about ‘the world out there’ – so the song is about the transition from childhood to adulthood, the simplicity, and innocence of childhood and the oftentimes rude awakening that occurs when one crosses over into adulthood.”

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Somewhere in the last decade, John Grant established himself as one of the great musical chroniclers of the American Dream, angled mostly from its flipside. What if everything you were promised, if you worked hard, loved hard, played, and prayed hard, it all turned to ash? Grant lays it all out for careful cross-examination in his most autobiographical work to date. In a decade of making records by himself, he has playfully experimented with mood, texture, and sound. At one end of his musical rainbow, he is the battle-scarred piano-man, at the other, a robust electronic auteur. Boy from Michigan seamlessly marries both. Produced by longtime friend Cate Le Bon, the album will be released via Bella Union in the UK/Europe.

John Grant arrived at the studio to begin recording Boy from Michigan on March 1st, 2020. “So, basically right at the beginning of the pandemic nightmare and all throughout the Presidential campaign,” he says. For Grant, lockdown was largely academic. He is insular by nature and removed himself from his native America in 2011, decamping to Iceland. From afar, the US Presidential race loomed large, though, igniting potent memories of the country which shaped John Grant. 2020’s temporary destabilising of world order suits Boy from Michigan‘s intent just fine.

 

With Cate Le Bon in the production chair, Grant has maximized the emotional impact of the melodies, stripping the noise of vaudeville and mood-enhancing a fruitful, spare, strangely orchestrated new world for him to live in. A clarinet forms the bedrock of a song. There is a saxophone solo. The record swings between ambient and progressive, calm and livid.

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Earlier this year, Grant released ‘The Only Baby’ in response to January’s storming of the Capitol Building. Upon the track’s reactive, unplanned release, Grant noted, “I’ve been so disturbed to see how things are progressing in the U.S. and the world, I wanted to share this song which I wrote and recorded last summer. Seems like a good time…”

 

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