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South-London born, Atlanta-based multihyphenate Puma Blue – the alias of Jacob Allen – announces today that his second album Holy Waters will be released on September 1 via Blue Flowers. The news is accompanied by new single, “Pretty” and a video inspired by film-noir plus a string of European tour dates including a headline at London’s KOKO on September 28th. To celebrate, Puma Blue plays an intimate show at Lewisham’s Fox & Firkin (a beloved former haunt of the band) tonight – the show sold out in minutes following the announcement late last week.

 

Death nestles like a sweet creature at the heart of Holy Waters, the highly anticipated follow-up to 2021’s debut In Praise of Shadows. It’s less a morbid study in mortality, more a chronicle of the graciousness within each repeated cycle of life, death and rebirth. A substantial leap in Jacob’s artistry, across its eleven tracks, he retraces every path walked in the harshest years of his life with a startling sincerity.

 

Recorded with his live band over the course of two visits to Eastbourne’s Echo Zoo Studios in 2022, Holy Waters marks a sharp departure from the solo bedroom productions of early EP releases, 2017’s Swum Baby and 2018’s Blood Loss, and his nocturnal debut album, produced in isolation in 2020. The studio techniques are more analogue and experimental, but sounding fuller, richer and paying their band-centric debts proudly. Inspired still by luminaries from Jeff Buckley to Björk, more important to Holy Waters is Portishead’s marriage of a live band and production, and the improvisational work of CAN and Hendrix. 

Collaboration has been creeping into Jacob’s other work recently too, fresh from production and writing credits on Loyle Carner’s latest, Hugo, alongside an impressive list of co-writes with Biig Piig, Mahalia, and Lava La Rue among others. On Holy Waters the list of co-producers and contributors includes Andrew Sarlo (Bon Iver, Nick Hakim), Gabe Wax (Soccer Mommy, Adrianne Lenker), Sam Petts-Davies (Warpaint, The Smile) and Luke Smith (Foals, Depeche Mode) who brought the “ugliness” to new single “Pretty” as Jacob explains;  

 

“‘Pretty’ is about feeling ugly. So ugly that sometimes you can’t believe the person who loves you sees you how they do. We were playing with beauty and ugliness when producing it, the live studio performance already felt so sweet and delicate, it needed something uglier and haunting so I howled these notes in the bridge and we fed my voice through a synth that made me sound like a swarm of bees.”

 

Watch the ‘Pretty’ music video:

play video

The single is accompanied by a surreal, film noir inspired video, shot over two days in New York with director and film-maker Angela Ricciardi (Angel Olsen, Alice Phoebe Lou, Skullcrusher). On the video Jacob says;  

 

“I wanted to capture how it feels to look in a mirror and feel dissonance with what you see. I obscured myself for much of the video, shot on film and directed by Angela Ricciardi, I wanted to hide and sing from the shadows. But I walk around New York City with these angel wings because the lyrics are ‘You make me feel so pretty’, this idea that I am perceived as beautiful by someone else despite how I see myself. At the end, I come home to this lifeless figure, a nothing. The idea that even though you can be loved by someone you can still be haunted by dysmorphia to some extent. This song is an attempt to challenge that, to honour that admiration from the one who sees me as beautiful.”

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