In 2016, English guitarist James Blackshaw announced the ostensible end of his music career, citing how difficult it was to constantly tour, not to mention make a living via record sales. That said, Blackshaw has technically continued to put out music, announcing an end to the hiatus in 2019 and releasing a single, “Why Keep Still?,” later that year. Today, Blackshaw has announced “New Album 2023” via Bandcamp — his first in eight years, coming December 31. He has a lengthy message for all concerned parties, where he describes his reasoning and work in the restaurant business.
Here’s what Blackshaw had to say:
Eight years have passed since my last album Summoning Suns was released.
A while back, feeling burnt out and like I wanted to find a bit more stability in my life, I decided to take a break from live performances and at least take my foot off the pedal a little bit with regards to writing and recording. That announcement sounded more dramatic than I intended in retrospect, but here we are in 2023, with nearly a decade of insanity between now and what felt like a comparatively breezy summer back in 2014 when I was making my last record.
Life finds a way of getting in the way. Every time I wanted to jump back in and play again, it felt like something would dishearten me. The pandemic and the sudden passing of one of my best friends and closest collaborators – John Hannon, who recorded nearly everything I’ve ever made – in particular.
I never found the stability I craved, bouncing around between bar and kitchen jobs. A couple of them I liked a fair bit. Others were awful. One even resulted in a nervous breakdown/mixed episode that lasted three months. The closest thing I found to the sense of self-worth and achievement I had while I was making music was was making music was cooking my own food, in my own food business. It’s hard work a lot of the time certainly, but seeing people enjoy something you’ve made from start to finish is such a rewarding experience.
I was beginning to take that job even more seriously as a full-time gig when I slipped on some black ice and broke my right shoulder one evening in mid-December last year. Aside from coping with the pain, I found myself unable to move my arm, out of work with little support and at home caring for my dog Dexter, who was diagnosed with terminal liver disease a couple days after my fall and passed away this February.
For months I wondered when – and if – I’d be able to play guitar again and I wanted so desperately to throw myself back into music, to communicate something or anything at all about this overwhelming sense of loss I was feeling.
I’m happy to say I’m now in good health, both physically and mentally. In fact, at the time of writing, I’m about to play a show in London this coming week. It’ll be my first since I played Oslo in early 2020.
I’m also incredibly excited to announce that I’ve just started work on a new instrumental album. There’s no title yet and the cover photo you see here is just a placeholder. I plan to release the album by the end of this year and I’d be incredibly grateful for your help in achieving that. By pre-ordering on Bandcamp, you’ll be helping me enormously with recording costs, repairs, paying other musicians for their time and of course my own time. When I started out, I was fortunate that a lot of these expenses were covered by small advances from the labels I worked with, but sadly I don’t think many labels have that sort of money in such trying times.
You’ll receive the full digital album as soon as it’s released, no later than the 31st of December 20203. This album will not be available to stream on Spotify or for purchase digitally anywhere else but here.
Please do let me know if you’d be interested in purchasing a CD or LP later down the line. If there’s enough interest and it ends up going to press in the future, I’d like to offer everybody who pre-orders the digital version a discount so they can get their preferred version and not pay twice for both digital and physical.
I truly appreciate your support and don’t take it for granted. I hope this will be the first of a lot more new music to come.
James Blackshaw, 03/06/23
Blackshaw’s new album is due out 12/31. Pre-order it here.