The Magic Lantern is the musical moniker of British Australian singer-songwriter and composer Jamie Doe, an artist dedicated to examining the limitless depth of human experience in our search for meaning.
His latest single ‘Bound for Glory’ announces the piano-led songwriting of The Magic Lantern’s upcoming fourth album ‘A Reckoning Bell’.
Bound for Glory examines what loss can teach us about love and how love’s many small acts give a life meaning. Reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens at his most rhythmic, ‘Bound for Glory’ centres around an off-kilter piano riff, contrasts with the chorale like chorus where stacked trombones float out of time around the line ‘Heading home, home to glory’. Musically, the songs two main sections juxtapose our restless search for mean- ing and each life’s ultimate ending.
The title is both a reference to Woody Guthrie’s autobiography of the same name, taken from a term for jumping a train with no care for the destination, as well as a nod to notions of death as heading ‘home to glory’ and the inevitability of loss as part of life. The single is accompanied by a film shot in Australia’s Blue Mountains from director Mirco Guidon about the journeys we go on to find meaning in love in the shadow of impending loss.
‘Bound for Glory’ and the fourth album from it comes, follows Jamie’s recent EP ‘My Soul Is A Strange Country’ which features six pieces for solo piano piano, initially written as private responses to the emotional upheaval of the last eighteen months and represent Jamie’s reconnection with the piano, the first instrument he learnt as a child.
Musically the EP draws on Doe’s love of the contemplative pianism of Bill Evans and the harmonic approach of composers such as Debussy, Ravel and Satie. Given the intimate nature of the subject matter, Jamie chose to heavily felt the piano for recording in the manner of contemporary pianists such as Nils Frahm, giving the impression of the edges of the music being soft and blurred.
Recorded whilst helping to care for his father with Alzheimer’s disease, Jamie found himself drawn to collaborate on the EP with two older men – engineer Patrick Wood and artist Bryan Hawkins who created over eighty artworks in response to the music, and the poet Jack Miguel who wrote a poem to accompany the EP. The result is a study in masculine vulnerability and power of using space to convey the yawning depth of what’s being lost, among the fragile beauty of what remains.
Born in Australia before moving to the UK at 12, Jamie began performing as The Magic Lantern alongside friends and long-term collaborators in the DIY Bristol music scene including This Is The Kit, Rozi Plain and Rachael Dadd. Moving to London in 2007, Jamie expanded The Magic Lantern into a quintet and together they evolved a transporting sound inspired by the immediacy of Jamie’s lyrics, lilting melodies and a shared love of improvised music.
The Magic Lantern’s debut album ‘A World In A Grain Of Sand’ was mixed by Leo Abrahams (Brian Eno, Paul Simon) and released in June 2011 and was vocally supported by Late Junction’s Verity Sharp, Bob Harris and Tom Robinson (BBC Radio 3, 2 and 6 respectively) among others. Keen to focus on the intensity that comes with stripping everything away, Jamie dissolved the quintet line up in 2012 to return to playing and writing on his own. His intimate second album ‘Love of Too Much Living’ was the product of two years spent crafting this new musical approach, playing hundreds of gigs around the UK and beyond.
Following its release in October 2014, Jamie toured across the UK and Europe and compiled an album of other musicians versions of his songs, ‘Love of Too Much Living – Remakes’ featuring This Is The Kit, Sam Brookes, Emilia Martensson, Wallis Bird, Rozi Plain and Low Chimes among others. It was released in December 2015 with all proceeds going to the male suicide prevention charity the ‘Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)’, an organisation very close to Jamie’s heart.
Drawing on a wide range of influences from folk, jazz and contemporary music, The Magic Lantern’s third album ‘To The Islands’ was written following a tumultuous journey to Jamie’s childhood home in Australia after nearly 10 years away, and explores memory and hope in a world of near constant uncertainty.
A lauded musician, composer and arranger, the lyrical strength of the record has also touched all those lucky enough to hear it. The album includes a songs about the person he hoped to meet (Holding Hands – a track with four saxophones and a vocal for the first two minutes that received multiple plays on BBC Radio 1); about hope during these times of uncertainty (Albatross); about the role and responsibility of the individual in this period of upheaval (Between the World & Me); of fear of failure and the paralyses of regret (Scattered Leaves); the complex naivety of following your dreams (Lydia); about his Dad’s Alzheimer’s (Two Bells); about how we hide what we really feel (Masks); about the inevitability of all things passing (Tangled Chimes); of the unique kind of anxiety many experience when waking up and worrying during the early hours (Darling Day); and about finding his now wife Rhia during the course of making the album (Re: Her)”
The Magic Lantern is part of a thriving scene of genre bending contemporary musicians in London who are going about things their own way. The Magic Lantern has toured the UK supporting acclaimed folk artist Sam Lee, sung with Jamie Cullum at the BBC Proms and as a guest vocalist with Sikh virtuoso Manika Kaur in Trafalgar Square. He has performed for the Queen and over 50 Commonwealth Heads of State, sung in the Sussex Woods with nightingales and recorded in Abbey Road Studios as part of the Help Musicians UK ‘Music Minds Matter’ campaign. He received a ‘Do it Differently’ grant from Help Musicians UK towards ‘The Life That I Have’ and his fourth album is due for release in the Autumn of 2021 with support from the PRS Open Fund.
The Magic Lantern has received praise from numerous supporters including BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, BBC 6 Music’s Guy Garvey, Lauren Laverne, Gideon Coe, Tom Robinson, BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction and BBC Radio 2’s Jamie Cullum, Mark Radcliffe and Bob Harris among others; and publications such as The Guardian, Acoustic Magazine and Atwood Magazine.
‘Bound for Glory’ is out now.