"McGrath is like a jeweler, crafting small but perfectly formed pieces that tempt you to pick them up and hold them to the light, just to get a better glance."
Bill Meyer, Dusted Magazine
"His versatile, experimental approach, reminiscent of Jim O’Rourke, pushes at the boundaries of new guitar music and the UK avant folk scene."
"Bringing a touch of the 21st century to the guitar soli scene..."
Tyler Wilcox, Aquarium Drunkard
"Not only capable of channeling Britfolk greats as Bert Jansch, John Renbourn or Michael Chapman, he can also pick like John Fahey and his fellow American primitives"
For The Sake Of The Song
"Bringing to mind the likes of Owen Pallett and Grizzly Bear, John McGrath is an artist capable of balancing classical and folk textures to great effect."
John McGrath is an Irish guitarist based in London. His music explores the boundaries of the ancient and modern as traditional elements meet improvisation and experimental tendencies. This debut solo album for Crooked Stem Recordings deals with themes of place, repetition and memory while spanning American primitive guitar, avant-folk ensemble instrumentals, traditional Irish melody, and song.
McGrath has been interviewed / featured in The Wire, Aquarium Drunkard, Night Folk in the Afternoon, For the Sake of the Song, Burning Ambulance, The Skinny, Bido Lito!, BBC Radio, RTE Radio 1, Radio New Zealand, Sideways through Sound, and Sydney's FBi radio and has had his music synched on various television shows and sounded at Tate Modern and FACT. John has performed the UK premiere of Rhys Chatham's "Die Donnergotter" in addition to "Guitar Trio" alongside the composer. He has also performed with Dustin Wong, Sharon Gal, Bill Thompson, Cavalier Song, Howard Skempton and the aPAtT Orchestra. A vinyl recorded as part of the Never Records installation at the Liverpool Biennial was reworked in a live performance by Philip Jeck. As a solo performer John has performed at a number of festivals and has supported Richard Dawson, Gwenifer Raymond, Laraaji and Sun Araw. Recent gigs have been at Kings Place, the Islington and a John Fahey Memorial night at the Betsey Trotwood. Besides guitar-playing, McGrath has also authored a book with Routledge entitled, "Samuel Beckett, Repetition and Modern Music” (2018) (which has received positive reviews in The Wire and Burning Ambulance), writes regularly on music, and lectures at University of Surrey which is home to the International Guitar Research Centre (IGRC).
released June 1, 2019
All compositions by John McGrath
Except Sí Bheag, Sí Mhór (O'Carolan, arr. McGrath)
All guitars, vocals and lapsteel performed by John McGrath
Arrangements on tracks 2,3,5 by Chloë Mullett
Live recording of tracks 2,3,5 by Product Records
Immix Ensemble features on tracks 2,3,5:
Daniel Thorne - saxophones
Hilary Browning - 'cello
Paul Duffy - trumpet, trombone
Simmy Singh - violin
Jonathan Guy - bass clarinet
Michael Walsh - oboe, cor anglais
Produced, recorded and mixed by John McGrath
Mastered by Christopher Leary at Melograf Mastering
Artwork by John Rogers / Photograph by Holly Rogers
Design by John McGrath