John Fairhurst — Hungry Blues EP
Review by Chris Penfold
Blues can be a difficult genre to master. It is, in its very nature, based on restrictions in terms of structure, subject matter and a typical style. John Fairhurst, however, is far from typical.
Upon listening to the opening track of Hungry Blues, Up On the Hill, you would be forgiven for thinking you were hearing gritty blues from the deep south of America. This is why the first two words of Fairhurst’s biography are so surprising: Wigan native. A deeper search of his backstory sheds some light; years spent travelling the world has resulted in a potent blend of Mississippi bottleneck blues and heavy repetitive African rhythms.
Hungry Blues marks the fourth self-released collection of work for Fairhurst. The EP deals with the issues you would expect from a blues record – disconnection, hunger, longing and soul-searching. These themes are delivered through a deep growling vocal with more than a touch of Tom Waits about it.
It’s difficult to settle on exactly what makes this EP so different and more appealing than other blues records. It takes a number of listens, but something gradually becomes more noticeable. Fairhurst is not afraid to let his natural accent slip through, most noticeably on I Don’t Know, and what is created is an enthralling sound that is difficult to take your ears away from.
It is refreshing to listen to a UK bluesman who is pushing the strict boundaries of the genre. The British blues scene is arguably stronger now than it has been for many years, and John Fairhurst is doing everything he can to make sure people see him at the forefront of this movement. This bold new EP should only help cement his position.