London-based singer-songwriter Conil has been dubbed "the anti-James Blunt" for his dark, edgy, late-night music inspired by his Strange Part Of The Country, the title of his debut full length disc on UK label Great Hare Records.
With "one of this country's finest voices" his raw, animalistic growl sounds like he gargles with bourbon before smoking his breakfast then chews on gravel to get him through until night fall.
But it's not just with his music that he makes a statement. He travels to cities around the world putting up signs declaring that this is a "Strange Part Of The Country". This unique artist is not afraid to get out on the streets to scream his story.
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Inspired by wandering through the city at night, Strange Part Of The Country documents Conil's trail through the urban underbelly. Recording unusual ethnic instruments at night in his London home-studio, Conil would not leave the house for days until interrupted by one of his collaborators - legendary double bass player Danny Thompson (Nick Drake, John Martyn) and members of Peter Gabriel's band, who played on the record.
Strange Part Of The Country was mixed by multi-Grammy winner Tchad Blake, the man behind a number of Tom Waits and Black Keys records, at the LA producer's country hideout. Blake also produced several of the singles on the CD including "American Grapevine" and "Years Between" (which went to #3 on US Alternative Radio charts).
The new single, "Devil Leaving", features Peter Gabriel's band (since Gabriel left them at home while on his latest world tour which features Gabriel and an orchestra, but no drums or guitars), and was also produced by Blake. The result is a gumbo of cerebral and otherworldly rock music by a man with a raw and unique voice.
Conil has already garnered significant critical praise in the UK for his rich, weathered voice and a collection of songs that blends blues and rock that connect to listeners and live audiences in a way that few singer-songwriters can.
He was included in Heat Magazine's "Hot New Artists of 2010" who raved, "If you like your music real, raw and meaningful here's the voice for you." Received a 4 star "Q Recommends" review from Q Magazine, which proclaimed that Strange Part of the Country was "Rasping, gritty urban blues" and a cover feature from Blues Matters Magazine who raved, "His rough voice, exotic instrumentation and colourful songs have many touting him as a future superstar." His music has also received support from BBC Radio 2, 6 Music and XFM and the first UK single "Stoned" was playlisted at NME Radio for 6 weeks.
Conil, who has supported singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur on tour and performed at NXNE in Toronto and SXSW, not only leaves a mark with his audiences for his charismatic presence, natural chops and hook-filled blues-rock songs, but he always leaves behind a notable reminder wherever he performs.
To celebrate the release of his debut disc Strange Part Of The Country, in every city that Conil plays a show, he puts up replica one way signs substituting "One Way" for "Strange Part Of The Country", pointing towards the venue. In addition, he puts up a picture frame with the same statement, on the outside of a building in the town declaring that Conil was here. He displayed his first "one way" signs when at SXSW.
This summer will be a busy time for Conil as he treks across the UK to appear at numerous festivals as well as several US festivals. He will also have the honor of appearing at Lake Of Stars in Malawi. Lake of Stars is an award winning festival that takes place on the palm fringed shores of Africa's third largest lake.
"Devil Leaving" from Strange Part Of The Country highlights Conil's songwriting skills. As The Sunday Experience raved, "A simply crushing masterpiece, sparse and Spartan in texture but cut to the bone in terms of intensity."
Get ready to hear quite a lot of him as he continues to spread his "unique voice" along with his "one way" signs soon.
Stag & Dagger @ Spread Eagle Friday (21 May) at 11.30pm
Rich Mix with Tinashe 02 June (stage 7.30pm)