“It’s a record that draws you in, first with its story, and then with its songs. A wonderful break from the day-job.” - Q
Even In Exile is the second album by James Dean Bradfield.
An ultra-vivid eulogy to a brilliant life cut short, Even In Exile is a beautiful collection of songs that loosely trace to story of the life and death of Chilean poet-singer-activist Victor Jara. At points pure and biographical, at others dreamlike and opaque, Bradfield sets words written specifically for the album by poet/playwright Patrick Jones to some of the most addictive and affecting music he’s ever composed.
The first single from the album - The Boy From The Plantation - is online everywhere now. All joyous, soaring Johnny Marr-esque melody, The Boy From The Plantation follows recent releases There'll Come A War and Seeking The Room With The Three Windows. The album is available for pre-order now.
James Dean Bradfield on Even In Exile: “Sometime at the start of 2019, Patrick gave me a handful of poems each of which touched on different aspects of Victor Jara’s life. When I read them, I was struck by the idea that if a life means anything, it will continue after death. That thought stuck with me and made me want to turn Patrick’s words into a record.
“One of the reasons Victor’s story chimed deeply – then and now - because as with so many other politically active people’s stories from that era, it results in death. The idea now that freedom of political thought might end in death is still too shocking to contemplate, yet we live in an age where oppositional politics leads to untold bitterness and a total lack of empathy, compromise or respect. It is so destructive, I think this period of history points to so much that’s relevant right now. And again and again, his voice returns. At the end of 2019 when I was finishing the record, people were gathering at Plaza Italia in Santiago and singing his songs at a mass protest against the government. His voice is an echo that inspires trust and guidance. Through reinvestigating his music I’ve learnt that music that is politically motivated doesn’t necessarily need to be polemic punishment, it can be poetic, personal and musically transcendent
“Growing up, Victor Jara’s name was regularly heard in music. It seemed to have a global recognition through songs by artists like The Clash, Simple Minds, Working Week and Calexico. And that carries on. Springsteen covered one of his songs recently. In terms of creating art about an artist, I was inspired by the album Mermaid Avenue by Wilco and Billy Bragg. That record took the words of Woody Guthrie and presented them in a different context, creating a loving act of artistic archeology and a fitting tribute to a great mind.”
Influenced by records and artists as diverse as Rush’s “Moving Pictures”, The Bad Plus’ “Never Stop 2”, Kamasi Washington’s “ Heaven and Earth”, “The Welsh Connection” by Man, John Cale’s “Walking On Locusts”, Pink Floyd’s “Meddle”, “The Marble Index” by Nico, “The Beaten Generation” by The The and the music of Alessandro Alessandroni, I Cantori Moderni and Violetta Parra, Even In Exile was played almost entirely by Bradfield and recorded at Door To The River Studio in South Wales. It features ten original compositions and a cover of Victor Jara’s “La Partida”.
“I started each track with just guitar and vocal and built it up from there, this is an album that wasn’t jammed - it was quite a precise procedure of finding the right architecture for the lyrics. That meant it was never envisaged as an album I was going to take out on the road.”
James Dean Bradfield is one-third of Manic Street Preachers.
Patrick Jones is the author of the plays Everything Must Go and Before I Leave and the recently published poetry collection My Bright Shadow (Rough Trade Books).