John Southworth


“Canada’s best kept secret”
Stewart Mason, CriticalMob

“…his eighth and most satisfyling album to date…redolent of Paul McCartney’s approach to ballads…but survives the comparison with full honours because of the quality of the writing and performances.” ****
John Crosby, R2/Rock’n’Reel – full review here.

“…embellished with gorgeous, winding melodies and dizzying lyrical excursions that take you far from humdrum reality.”
– Chris Evans, Broadcaster (The Curveball) & Journalist (Full article below.)

“Most people don’t know what to make of John Southworth but that should change here: there’s nothing mysterious about the simple magic at the core of Human Cry”
– Michael Barclay, Radio Free Canuckistan

“A truly true original”
– Steve Guimond, The Hour

“Human Cry is his most staggering release to date. This record is a must have.”
 – Joe Gurba, Argue Job

“What an artist!”
 – Pedalad Asa Buenritmo

“Remarkably straightforward, beautiful and powerful. Take the time to listen”

“True to its title, Human Cry is an intimate experience….”
– David Boyle, FFWD Weekly

“No one does vulnerable better than John Southworth”
– John Terauds, Toronto Star

“…he roams across the acoustic spectrum setting his light on any given candle in an aural chandelier, something which may explain why so many artists have perfomed his songs in his home base of Canada. The common theme throughout the album is the quality. He is a man who makes every sound meaningful.”
– Neil King, FATEA

“Best live show of 2010, will renew your faith in music”
Tom Powers, CBC Radio Canada

“Wonderful, sylvan, sprightly, uber-bolangaire, peculiar and smart.”
Guy Maddin, Canadian film maker

About John Southworth:

“When I’m on the links and the caddy asks me what it is I do I bow my head & say, ‘Well, I guess I’m a kind of singer-songwriter.’ ‘What kind of music?’ ‘Well, all kinds I guess.’ ‘Dear god, how vague & nebulous’ I think.  Truth is I’m an elitist. don’t know how to function as a democrat. I make songs & records for irrational, archaic reasons. I’m trying to reach a forgotten people.”
John Southworth

John Southworth is a UK-born, Canadian-raised and Montreal-based singer-songwriter. One of Canada’s most idiosyncratic and respected music artists, his sound combines old-world folk, cabaret and 50’s-80’s golden oldie pop. His songs have been performed by Canadian artists Mary Margaret O’Hara, Buck 65, Sarah Slean, Hawksley Workman, Veda Hille and Nick Buzz.

John Southworth

“Stepping into a John Southworth song for the first time can be a little like finding yourself in the middle of a movie, with no idea how you got there. It might take you a while to figure out the genre, or whether the director wants to make you laugh, cry or simply take you somewhere you’ve never been before. But you will soon put aside such concerns and find yourself marvelling at the richness, elegance and – often – the meticulously crafted strangeness of the landscape around you. It’s the kind of world you might encounter in a movie by the Coen brothers, David Lynch or Jim Jarmusch, where the texture of reality is deceptively tangible, yet something is not quite right – just a little skewiff.

Over the course of a career spanning some 15 years, Southworth has written songs about a lovesick guy who opens and runs a small airport in the hope that his true love might one day fly in (Small Country Airport), a celebrity who finds that the more he despises his public, the more they revere him (Idle Idol) and Buster Keaton (Buster Keaton). In that time he has also drawn on pretty much every kind of musical influence you care to mention, bending and shaping it to fit his individual vision, and always imbuing it with warmth and a sense of freshly minted melody.

Aside from the fact that he’s always striven to make every album distinct from its predecessor, Southworth’s music contains nothing to unsettle the sensitive listener. No shrieking, no feedback, no discords. Yet only those who allow themselves to be drawn into the mysterious and unique realm it conjures will truly be able to appreciate the sheer rigour and care with which it is constructed. For some, Southworth’s voice – which shares some of Van Dyke Parks’ helium-tinged eccentricity – will act as a deterrent. But once embraced, it seems like the perfect instrument for delineating a world that for all its oddity is still recognisably our own: equal parts absurdity and heartache, and wholly inexplicable.

A degree of familiarity with Southworth’s earlier albums certainly adds to your appreciation of his latest, Human Cry.  Here we find an artist less concerned with painting surreal pictures, more with penetrating to the core of the songwriter’s eternal standby, love, and the results are surprisingly moving. Southworth has given no clue as to what sparked this retreat into such raw feeling – whether or not its roots are autobiographical – but the album seems to parallel the rollercoaster of emotions that accompany the agonising pain of a dying relationship and the ecstatic birth of a new one. Songs like Sadness Came Back and River of Tears In Everyone take you to the brink of despair. But then Heaven Was Always Here descries hope amidst the darkness and the ensuing So Glad It’s Finally Spring leads you to the sunniest of sunlit uplands – the female backing singers cooing like birds in a classic Disney cartoon.

This being John Southworth, such a potentially mawkish progression from misery to joy is embellished with gorgeous, winding melodies and dizzying lyrical excursions that take you far from humdrum reality. (I’d be lying if I told you I understood how the mirror-makers of Brigadoon got involved in all of this). Satisfyingly, the album culminates in the sweet and simple serenity of I’m a Bell, in which the protagonist’s hard-won acceptance of life chimes forth – and, as so often with Southworth, rings true.”
– Chris Evans, Broadcaster & Journalist

John Southworth’s latest record Human Cry, features backing band The South Seas, comprised of some of Canada’s most renowned jazz and avant-guard musicians. Human Cry’s supremely crafted, elegiac songs offer rare and intimate illuminations, artfully performed with seasoned precision and grace.

“The first song was written on the day after arriving in the city with a mountain my throat & head soaked in glowing blemishes & blue fatigue all the songs were born there they contain the voice & birch & dew elixir of her royal mount silver drops from her healing cup no other city comes as close to matching nature’s rhythm drink the cure from the local fountain & hearts swell to the size of moon tears the first winter was stripped solitary a barefoot statue stood in the snow i boiled the bark & oyster shells drank its black reduction followed stonemasons underground church bells were ringing we kissed without thought i ached knelt forward felt the old dream wrestle with the new life became unspeakable strictly anti-adolescent ritual feminine vast elemental a friend recently told me that all singing is a form of crying…when all is said & done when all is at its end when your every drop of rain has run the circle of cloudhillriversea that’s when song=cry & when song=cry then cry=life & when cry=life then life=song & that’s pure mathematics such song holds court in the soul unlocking the three golden tears releasing vision beneath the old town negotiating the demands of nocturnal gods defying the idiot drapery & conartistry which seek to lessen its beam for when the song is crying the beam grows bright again praise be the song says the soul”
John Southworth on Human Cry

John Southworth & The South Seas

Human Cry is released in association with Barnyard Records (Canada) –


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