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Gareth Davies-Jones Gareth Davies-Jones
Album: Art Amongst The Coal
Label: Shelf Released
Tracks: 3

In late 2017, the County Down-born, Tyne Valley-based singer songwriter was commissioned by The Auckland Project to work with community groups and volunteers in and around Bishop Auckland in County Durham, North East England with the aim of helping local people respond through music to collection of paintings, drawings and sketches that comprised the newly opened Mining Art Gallery. The project was a celebration and continuance of a long-standing tradition of miners making art to explore their industry, their place in it and the life of their communities.

Drawing on and incorporating the ideas and output of the community sessions, he wrote the three pieces contained in this EP. The strummed, percussive marching beat title track with its wordless backing chorus vocals captures the essence of the Gallery and impact of the art as he describes how

Some dwelt upon the surface
View from the northern land
Some caught the self expressive
Heart of the working man
Some caught the depths of anguish
Waiting for the news
Some showed the hope and laughter
Forged in the common good
In the sweat and toil and blood

The second track, the waltzing, piano and violin accompanied 'Miner & Child', specifically focuses on the titular painting by artist Tom McGuiness, a pencil sketch of a miner home from a shift, cradling his unwell daughter in his arms, the lyric musing on the feelings that inspired it ("Oh the things I would do/To set you on different paths") and that it inspires in others. Opening on a drone, the third cut, 'The Last Shift', is a violin waltzing instrumental inspired by Norman Cornish's portrayals of the Pit Road featuring Gareth on the artist's own banjo. Downloadable from his website, this is a short but terrific recording

Mike Davies