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New Music: John Bramwell - The Light Fantastic

The album cover for John Bramwell's new album The Light Fantastic

John Bramwell is one of the country’s most important song writers, from the early days of I Am Kloot he has spoilt us with melodies, melancholy and songs that find beauty and hope in the mundane aspects of life. He has clearly been influenced by his northern roots, the sky, the stars and life’s endless dreams and possibilities. Yet, having said that it also needs to be acknowledged how under appreciated he is when it comes to mainstream recognition. If you stopped fifty people in the street and asked if they were aware of John Bramwell / I Am Kloot my initial assumption is a large percentage of those people would say no. John is clearly loved by many but it seems unfair that, when you are as naturally talented as John is when it comes to observing life, writing lyrics, and melodies, that does not always translate to album sales and arena sized venues.

What is important is John Bramwell always comes across as a man who loves what he does.  He was born to write songs and perform. When I Am Kloot came to an end he took it upon himself to phone venues, get himself booked for gigs and has seemed to be constantly touring the country playing these songs to those that love to hear them. Amongst all this touring John has found time to write a new collection of songs, put a band together and give us an album full of new material for the first time in seven years. Highlighting the fact that a band has been put together is important, this is not a solo album. The Light Fantastic is a collection of songs that has been carefully thought out to ensure they sound solid and have that collective togetherness of a band all coming together to give these songs a wonderful lease of life.

In interviews recently John has described how writing these songs helped him get through some difficult times in his life including the passing of his parents and the end of a relationship. John has used music as a healing power, how songs can give us hope for better days ahead and remind us to pause and look up at the sky, gaze out at the ocean and remember that life is worth living. If you have experienced those feelings of loss and despair, The Light Fantastic will certainly speak to you. The lyrics will be relatable, and the uplifting melodies will put a smile back on your face and leave you feeling hopeful and having the strength to get through the difficult times.

Some of the many highlights on the album include the opening song Leave No Traces which eases us into the record with a lovely acoustic melody that will warm your heart. The lyrics are about escapism, wanting to “drift away on a guided wheel / or a slow train to nowhere / learn how to feel”. If you have ever felt as though you are on the outside looking in at the world the lyrics will speak to you “I’m living on the outside / I love the world so far away / Don’t have to care what people say / Leave no traces” . The point I was making about how this album was recorded as a band is clearly evident in A World Full of Flowers where the harmonies and instrumentation throughout this song reminds us of the importance of friendships and being together with others to create beautiful music. 

The Light Fantastic is a song full of magic and wonder, that has been perfectly formed through harmonies, arrangements and musicians who love being in each other’s company. Here It Comes is a fascinating song which references ‘corporation penguins’, a line that further strengthens my argument as to why John Bramwell is one of our greatest songwriters. A Sky Full of Thunder and Lightning is full of emotional harmonies, cello playing that will make you fall in love with the instrument (if you weren’t already), lyrics that will make you stop and think “I am lying on a bed of roses / living in a world of supposes / where the only thing that anyone knows is / who not to be”. This lyric captures so much of the time we are living in, where people put a fake version of themselves on social media, and we can lose reality on what is real and what is fake. 


So many of John’s songs have referenced the sky. Reminding us of how vast the world is and how small we are in terms of what is out there. The never-ending skies, the depth of the oceans, and what could be found in these places. I Am The Sky is another one of those beautiful songs that can be held up amongst John’s best songs. This is a song to lose yourself in, go for a walk through the forest, step outside gaze up at the stars whilst trying to figure out what the world is all about. If that wasn’t enough this song is taken to even greater heights through the cello playing which will make you feel at peace with the world.

The Element of Truth is an enthralling song which is full of dramatic moments, whilst managing to weave some pop melodies and hooks ensuring your attention does not drift. I Feel Me will again be relatable to anyone who feels the need to escape, the need to go to a place where you can be yourself, the importance of remembering who you are and don’t try to be anyone else. “Sit in my car and I stare at the ocean / Head for the light and the heat of the city / Head for the hills where the street lights look pretty / And I feel me”. Nobody Left But You is a song of two halves. The first is spoken word over an acoustic guitar, which then builds and transcends with the cello and takes us away to another world with melodic vocals that will leave us ready for whatever challenges the world decides to throw are way. 

It is such a lovely feeling to have John Bramwell writing new songs again, and to be back with a band. From start to finish The Light Fantastic is such a joyful experience, this is an album to share with friends, an album to provide you with comfort and to remind you that you are not on your own and by letting music into your life the world suddenly seems a better place. 

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