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28 Parliament Street, Kilkenny

John Blek & The Broken Strings

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“John Blek is Ireland’s best kept secret” The Irish Times 

“a master of subtlety in realms of folk-informed pop.” – The Thin Air “John’s most ambitious and creative record yet.” FOLK RADIO UK “It’s a perfect slice of lush alternative folk rock.” Folk/tumble 

Cheer Up is the deeply personal and beautifully written new long player from Ireland’s best kept songwriting secret John Blek. 

With no sign of letting up the ever prolific and masterful John Blek brings us his ninth studio album. Cheer Up is a powerful reflection on the singer/songwriter’s life. Lyrically demonstrating his personal growth while sonically showing his musical evolution. To some this may seem like a stylistic departure to others it’s the natural next step. 

Blek says “This is a very important record to me. It’s the first of mine that is entirely autobiographical from start to finish. Also in the past I have tried to be quite restrained when it came to the production of my songs but this time around I wanted to adopt a more is more approach. Allowing each song to dictate its own natural path and taking it as far as I could with the resources available to me.” 

The album features performances from Dutch three piece harmony group Woolf and the Dresden based Broken Strings. It was recorded at Wavefield Recordings, Clonakilty, Co. Cork and was co-produced with John’s regular collaborator Brian Casey. 

“Part of the joy of my life is getting to meet other artists. I played some shows with Woolf in the Netherlands and we immediately clicked. The first time I heard them sing together I knew I wanted to work with them and to hear their voices add a new depth to my own songs. It was the same with Moritz Brümmer and Filip Sommer (The Broken Strings) who I met on an artist in residence programme in Dresden back in 2022.” 

Cheer Up will be released on the 6th of September on John’s own label Bigger River Recording Co.

John Blek Bio 

Blek is an artist with a story to tell. With his timeless emotive voice and layered fingerstyle guitar you will be transported from scene to scene as his expansive songbook unfolds. 

John Blek is Cork City born and bred currently residing only a mile or two from his childhood home but listening to his music you can hear the influence of travel and experience. His parents, both of whom were primary school teachers, had to bribe him to stay in school after his 16th birthday with the promise of a new guitar on the completion of his final exams. Such was John’s belief in his ability and chosen path in life that he was willing to forgo the more traditional education sought by his peers. This conviction carries through to his art. His music is written from such a personal place that it creates the sense that he grew up with these songs, that they are in his blood – and in a way he did, they are his thoughts, his words, his sounds and his stories. Though not all autobiographical, like many of the great painters, an element of the artist exists in every portrait. 

While Blek is a solo artist he regularly collaborates, and indeed will write new music with collaborators in mind. As a result, it never feels like another artist is merely gate crashing his music instead it works as a beautiful harmonious meeting of artists who understand each other. Recent collaborations include Kris Drever & Kit Downes who both join John on his album “On Ether & Air”, Joan Shelley who embodies Laura, one of the characters in Blek’s duet “The Body”, Nathan Salsburg of the Alan Lomax Archive who, with John is currently investigating lesser known folk songs that traveled from Ireland to America in the mid 1800s with the support and funding of the `Arts Council of Ireland and fellow Corkonian Mick Flannery who duets with him on Revived a single from the 2020 album “The Embers”. 

In July 2022 Blek was commissioned to write a suite of songs about the city of Dresden by the Saxony Cultural Department. The resulting compositions were then recorded at the beautiful Castle Studios in the countryside just outside Dresden with local musicians Filip Sommer and Moritz Brümmer (The Broken Strings). These recording form John’s 6 track EP, “Digressions #3 – In Dresden”.