Lonesome Chris Todd brings to music connoisseurs his Dark Horses EP.
“It was a different vibe than I was used to and I found that I could play some acoustic music as a part of a set. By chance, I’d written a couple of new acoustic songs in the preceding months. ‘Red Lion Yard’ was composed in the cab of my little white van, while living in a car park in Blandford, Dorset, during a week of homelessness in England in early 2017. Although temporary, it was a profound experience that served as a resetting of my compasses.” – Chris Todd
‘Lonesome’ Chris Todd has fronted The Hardchargers, one of Ireland’s premier electric blues trios, for the past ten years.
This is his first solo release, pairing two original songs based on his own real-life experiences and steeped in the DNA of the pre-war blues with two classics from the vintage blues canon, by Lightnin’ Hopkins and Bukka White.
“Dark Horses’ lyrically recalls a period at the end of that same year, where it felt like some kind of rebirth was taking place, although not without its complications.” – Chris Todd
During 2018, the Hardchargers released their first album, Scarecrow (Market Square), touring England in August and playing at a number of arts centres in Ireland.
This deliberate branching out from the band’s usual routine of pubs, clubs and festivals brought with it listening audiences and a more relaxed environment for performing. Chris recorded both songs with award-winning sound engineer/producer Cormac O’Kane at the Red Box Studios in Belfast.
Cormac had seen Chris performing on several occasions and had been encouraging him to record as an acoustic artist, believing this to be a significant untapped aspect of his artistry; he was right.
‘The experience of working with Cormac turned out to be revelatory. Cormac’s patience, advice and enthusiasm in working through various keys, tempos and vocal approaches to ‘Dark Horses’ and ‘Red Lion Yard’ led to results I’m delighted with and I hope listeners will be too.’ – Chris Todd
Chris’ songs are paired with two solo blues classics Bukka White’s Shake ‘Em On Down from 1939 originally and the equally vintage Lonesome Dog Blues by Lightnin’ Hopkins of 1949. In homage to that era, Chris cut these numbers in a field-recording style – live takes, one microphone, at home in Ballyclare.
All four tracks were mastered by Denis Blackham and Chris believes the resulting 15 minutes of music represents some of his best recorded work thus far.
“I used a digital machine rather than a reel-to-reel, but other than that, I approached these recordings in the same way that was common practice in the 1930s and early 40s. It may have taken a few takes, but what you hear is a bona fide single performance of each song with no overdubbing or ‘patching in’ of repairs!’ – Chris Todd