The 299 Game [LP] | 299

about

The spokes catch the moonlight. Behind you, there ’ s nothing but a city you don ’ t know. Out in front, spreading out on either side of the ink-black blacktop, is the abandon and the promise of a horizon. hera you ’ ll find the music of the 299.

Out here, things get wyrd at the edges of the frame. Out here, you can lose your mind before finding it again. That ’ s what happened to Welsh multi-instrumentalist and producer Gavin Fitzjohn a pair of years ago.

Making his manner across the US—from Phoenix to Houston to Dallas to Tampa, out to New Orleans and way out in Joshua Tree—he sought the heart of the american folk singer : guitar for hire, and disturb equitable around the future flex.

Bricked up in hotel rooms, he recorded the character sketches and scorched earth polemics that make up the first 299 record. Totally DIY, with roll, plates and boxes as percussion section, a quarter as a guitar pick and a handful of coins for shakers, these songs shoot the day to day sophistication of touring full of discolor, mainlining the casual outlandishness of Wim Wenders ’ photography and the ill proselytize of late era Johnny Cash.

These songs are home to creeping death hangovers, not-so-idle threats and big plans that go sideways irrevocably. If Glen Campbell found himself in a 299 sung, he ’ d get to Phoenix to discover that not only was his daughter gone, she ’ five hundred never existed in the first place. “ I wanted to capture a moment in time, a feeling, ” Fitzjohn says. “ The songs are Polaroids of a man traveling around an unfamiliar place, surrounded by dreamlike characters. ”

This overarching sense of Lynchian outlandishness is offset by songs that ring with crisp melodies and compositional nous. Blue Island ’ s skipping rut is intoxicating, dangerous in its allure, while elsewhere there are flecks of ‘ 60s song groups and Tom Waits-style melancholia tied up in Fitzjohn ’ s debate american drawl.

Since completing influence on these tracks, Fitzjohn has continued to work as a musician and manufacturer with artists including Paolo Nutini, Manic Street Preachers, Gruff Rhys, Stereophonics and more, but the 299 keeps calling out to him. The songs are always playing somewhere in the background ; a product of a time and position that says something about him as a songwriter and something else about America as an elate landscape that will destroy you if you let it.

– Huw Baines

Read more: TreeHouse Point

credits

released May 21, 2021

All songs written and performed by Gavin Fitzjohn
Produced and mix by Gavin Fitzjohn

Mastered in The Upside Down by Dani Castelar
Pedal steel guitar on It ’ s not The time by Chris Unck
‘ If You Want You ’ ll Be Free To Roam ’ by Huw Baines
Design by Ben Lyonsmyth
Handwriting and illustration by Pete Barnes
Cover photograph taken by Gavin Fitzjohn at Giant Rock

All music written & recorded 2012 – 2020
in Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, Joshua Tree, Tampa & Cardiff

A limited thanks to Huw Baines, Dani Castelar, Pete Barnes,
Ben Lyonsmyth, Chris Unck, Eva Gardner, Tom Harle,
Joe Jones, Paolo, Cat and Luke & Johan @ PNKSLM

Blue Island inspired by “ Green Island ”
Written and composed by Don Drummond
Published by Third Side Music o/b/o Jamrec Music

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