John Craigie Releases ‘Asterisk The Universe’

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John Craigie released his new album Asterisk The Universe today. The 2020 effort follows the singer-songwriter and guitarist’s 2018 album, Scarecrow, and his 2017 LP, No Rain, No Rose.

While Scarecrow is an acoustic album made up of songs leftover from the No Rain, No Rose sessions, Asterisk The Universe sees the intrepid troubadour adding more full-band elements like drums, bass and keys, taking the sonic ideas behind No Rain, No Rose a bit further. It also sees the ever-evolving Craigie turning more toward the rhythm & blues and soul artists he admires rather than the archetypal singer-songwriter with a guitar.

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“I’d been listening to a lot more hip-hop and soul…I found myself writing songs that had very simple chord structures and repetitive rhythms,” he said in a statement. “In a lot of those tunes, you hear old samples from Bill Withers, Al Green, and Nina Simone. I knew those artists’ talents were far beyond my own, but they still influenced the structure of what I was doing. I even thought about doing a sample-based album, yet I knew live was going to the best. I wanted to record in a similar way to No Rain, No Rose in a room with all of my friends.”

Those friends included the folk group Rainbow Girls, whose Northern California cabin Craigie would record in along with other collaborators like Lorenzo Loera of The California Honeydrops on organ and Shook TwinsNiko Daoussis on guitar along with the rhythm section of drummer Matt Goff and bassist Ben Berry.

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While the sound may be a bit different, the resulting 10 tracks feature Craigie’s seasoned storytelling skills and road-warrior mentality on songs like “Nomads” (an ode to the patron saint of travelers, St. Christopher, who when Craigie was in Catholic school took to be the janitor, Christopher) along with his championing of activists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Greta Thunberg on “Climb Up” as well as his keen eye for social commentary on tunes like “Part Wolf.”

Listen to John Craigie’s Asterisk The Universe below:

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JamBase Live Video Archive
JamBase Live Video Archive