The Chuck Norris Project

Southern Tenant Folk Union

of discs
Stock Status (?)
In Stock
Delivery Estimate
2-5 days
Folk, Bluegrass
Johnny Rock Records
January 19, 2015

Format: Compact Disc



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This January sees the release of the sixth Southern Tenant Folk Union album 'The Chuck Norris Project', the band's most ambitious album to date.
Conceptually the tracks are all named after different movies from the actor's career (though have nothing to do with the plots and contain no reference to car chases, explosions or karate chops) with each song taking the title as a starting point to discuss political ideas. Band leader Pat McGarvey came upon the idea in autumn 2012 during the last US presidential election when Mr Norris and his wife released a campaign video urging voters to come out for Mitt Romney saying that a vote for Obama would lead to "a thousand years of darkness", a statement he felt unhelpful to the debate. Musically eclectic the album remains an all-acoustic affair but takes in influences like 70's disco, folk and soundtrack music mixing elements of composers like John Carpenter, Gene Clark and Fabio Frizzi. The album also features guest vocals from cult Americana songwriter Mike Ferrio (from the bands Tandy & Good Luck Mountain).

With this idea McGarvey and the band began to write and demo material to see if it would work not only as a concept but also as something musically interesting. Subsequently most of the album was written during 2013 but delays to recording meant the sessions didn't take place until summer 2014. Featuring an expanded sound with orchestrated fiddle, clarinet and cello on top of the band's regular 5 string banjo, double bass, cajon, mandolin and acoustic guitars the songs each explore different subjects that expand upon the original movie title in unexpected ways. Also influential was the work of 70's soul composer/arrangers such as Isaac Hayes, J.J. Johnson and Barry White on songs like the epic Martial Law or the relentless folk disco of Walker, both tracks using those big soundtrack stylings to emphasise and reflect the emotion of the lyrical content.

The subjects of the songs are diverse but have subtle and common threads linking them outside of the framing device. A few songs touch on the gun laws in USA and their consequences, one being the continuing horror of school shootings (in Slaughter In San Francisco) written from the point of view of a young girl trapped in time beneath her desk. Equality is another thread linking the songs with zero hour contracts and the need to organise labour the basis for the song Delta Force (referencing Aldous Huxley's Brave New World caste system) and the forces ranged against it in The Octagon. And even as the songs discuss issues of social conscience it's always done with beauty, space and clarity. Leading each piece of music are the compelling vocals from Rory Butler, a voice powerful and fragile, soulful and honest. He is accompanied by the thrilling dexterity of Adam Bulley on Mandolin and the innovative fiddle playing of Katherine Stewart who manages to effortlessly combine elements of her backgrounds in Scottish traditional music and classical training into a sometimes beautiful and often disturbing sound.

Chris Purcell whose sublime songwriting contributions have been highlights of the last four STFU albums has composed The Wrecking Crew ? Parts 1 & 2 ? (Eyes Right and Eyes Left), a song suite noting the parallels of paranoia on both the extreme right and left. On the left Utopian ideals that end in disappointment and on the right the fear of losing power via equality and social progress. Other tracks on the album include a dissonant string based riff on a possibly future homosexual or female occupant of the White House where it's just business as usual (The President's Man) and appropriately for a band named for a union they present in Expendable Too a scenario where workers decide to reverse the norm and outsource their Managing Director's job.

Once again recording and mixing, on his fourth consecutive album with the band, is Lau sound engineer Tim Matthew. Tim's expertise in sound techniques has produced this most fully realised album where each song's tone reflects the subject matter. It contains atmosphere and subtlety but when a groove needs to be hard the full force of the big acoustic band sound is deployed. Album artwork comes again from Irish designer Jonathan McClean and this time he's devised a set of bold, eye catching and memorable images reminiscent of 70's action movie posters.

The band have once again taken another leap in sound, structure and tone as they marry social conscience and comment on the world around them with songs, melodies and performances that engage. This album has achieved what it set out to and now on release STFU invite all to listen for themselves, although maybe it would be for the best if Chuck Norris never got to hear it.

What the press said about the band's previous album 'Hello Cold Goodbye Sun'

"The Scottish folk group Southern Tenant Folk Union presents its most potent offering since 2010's excellent The New Farming Scene" - Andy Gill (The Independent) 4*

"The Scottish band's harmonies dance and drone, tackling songs that embrace the traditional ambience of The Unthanks and the experimentation of Tunng" - Andy Fyfe (Q Magazine) 4*

"The band just keep going from strength to strength?with Hello Cold they've hit a new stride and when you have a product as fine and accessible as this, it's just hard to imagine it staying on the shelves for very long" - Rob Lavender, Metro.

"Hello Cold Goodbye Sun, like all the recent work from this band, has its particular surface ripples but lasting depth beneath" - Alan Morrison, The Herald.

More Info

Key Value
Catalogue number JOROCK019
Barcode 0721802197537
Number of items 1
Packaging type Jewel Case
Imported No
Banjo Pat McGarvey (Vocals)
Double Bass Craig Macfadyen
Mandolin Adam Bulley
Percussion Steve Fivey (Cajon Drum)
Vocals Rory Butler (Acoustic Guitar), Chris Purcell (Acoustic Guitar), Katherine Stewart (Fiddle)
Weight 100g
Dimensions (LxWxH) 142mm x 10mm x 125mm

Disc 1