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South-London born, Atlanta-based multihyphenate Puma Blue – the alias of Jacob Allen – today releases his highly anticipated second album Holy Waters via Blue Flowers.

 

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, a joy permeates each sonic corner of Holy Waters, the studio techniques more analogue and experimental than his previous work, but sounding fuller, richer, killing what ego was left in Puma Blue and paying their band-centric debts proudly. Inspired still by luminaries from Jeff Buckley to Björk, more important to Holy Waters was Portishead’s inexplicable marriage of a live band and production, and the improvisational work of Can and Hendrix. This is an album that can be devoured late at night with headphones as much as it can be blasted on the open road. 

 

While Holy Waters might be his darkest work to date – even when compared to the moreish sadness flooding his breakthrough EPs Swum Baby (2017) and Blood Loss (2018) – it seems to find Puma Blue in a better place than ever. It’s as if death being the centrifuge to the album has made the beautiful moments that remain all the more beautiful; after all the sorrow and pain has passed, Holy Waters basks in them. 

 

Watch the music video for the lead single ‘Dream Of You’:

play video

‘Dream Of You’ follows recent singles ‘Hounds’, ‘Pretty’ and ‘O, The Blood’ and is accompanied by a video directed by Sarah E. The video was shot in one take on a very rainy day at Coalhouse Fort in Tilbury on the outskirts of London to black and white 16mm film using a technique called Snorricam where the camera is mounted to Jacob’s waist.

“This is a love song about how hard it is to watch the one you love suffer.”

On the track Jacob says, “This is a love song about how hard it is to watch the one you love suffer. The chorus is about how love can feel so big sometimes it almost swallows you completely. The song is about serious feelings but it’s a joke in some ways. I thought to myself ‘what’s larger than life?’ and the answer ‘death’ came immediately. I don’t even believe that to be true, I think it’s probably the other way around – but this idea that you could love someone so much that every time you think of them feels like dying really tickled me. I was drawn to imagery of Greek Gods and ancestral spirits. Drums were my first instrument and passion before songwriting, and I always wanted to play drums on a Puma track so I played drums on this one.” 

 

On the video he added “The video is about trying to outrun death but realising that I must surrender to its mystery, and accept loss as a natural part of life.” 

‘O, The Blood!’ was a moody, whispered, ballad that explodes into a dizzying trip hop climax topped by screaming hammond organ and distorted, wailing vocals, was recorded at Echo Zoo Studios in 2022 and produced by Puma Blue with contributions from Andrew Sarlo (Big Thief, Dijon).

 

The accompanying grainy, black & white video, shot entirely to VHS at Colour Factory in Hackney, was Jacob’s directorial debut. He explains, “I wanted the first video I directed to be fun to make and fun to watch. I grew up entranced by goofy videos but I find that, because the music is quite serious, people peg me as this moody type. The dynamic in the band is always super silly, making each other laugh constantly, especially on tour. This video is a love letter to that (and to them), paying homage to our collective love for The Eric Andre Show, I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson and Elvis’s ’68 Comeback Special”

"I recorded the vocals in one take, sitting on the floor of the studio with an old mic and my eyes closed."

Jacob adds “‘O, The Blood!’ is about the hyperbolic feelings you experience after a break up, as if you were written for that person like in an imagined Shakespearean play. I recorded the vocals in one take, sitting on the floor of the studio with an old mic and my eyes closed. I always meant to replace it later, but ended up attached to the raw vulnerability of it. Most of the wonky sounds were made with my friend Sarlo, and the rest were from old 90’s PC games my Dad used to play.”

 

Watch the ‘O, The Blood!’ music video:

play video

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