Never Gave Up
“This is my journey and it’s as raw as any other person’s,” explains singer/songwiter Jack Bessant, reflecting on his latest solo project Brother Thunder EP.
This most recent body of work – which also includes the album Lucky Mountain (August 2020) – have been something of a catharsis, confronting an intensely personal subject that has been buried deep. “I had to deal with my brother committing suicide…” he explains. “It was heavy, it was horrific. I’ve managed to deal with it now through my music. I didn’t want to have to talk about it at the time, I didn’t want to have to say it out loud, but it’s important, we have to be able to be raw with each other… It’s been a dark horse on me and hopefully through my music I’m able to help other people, not just with coming to terms with something like that, but the realness of all our lives.”
Recorded on the farm in a barn converted with friends, Brother Thunder EP is far from a dark body of work. It resonates with rich emotion, from the mournful melancholy of folk rock harp, through rousing basslines and driving guitar, to the soaring highs of soulful harmonies. Jack’s aim is simple – stripped back if you like. “The EP has given me a certain energy, it’s a release in the real sense of the word. I hope people get something positive out of it,” he says. “A feeling of ease, a sense of freedom.”
NEVER GAVE UP
“I wrote Never Gave Up walking through our farm fields with my wife. There’s a field called “Little Heaven”, named many years back during the strawberry farming days. By the time we had reached it and were walking back I had the song written. It’s about remembering that the creative you is always there, you’re doing your art – learning, practising, performing, and there’s a point where it all comes together… it’s an ode to not giving up on your creativity!’
The video was the brainchild of renowned photographer Tim Gutt and rock star set designer Shona Heath – the multi-disciplinary creative famed for her surrealist, playful and fantastical creations, who has worked with the most exciting and relevant fashion houses and photographers over the last two decades to create the most unforgettable shows, installations, imagery and exhibitions.
“I instantly felt a connection with the lyrics,” explains Shona. “It’s really light and happy but it goes really deep into the soul… As a creative person, imagining this internal conversation – this long term relationship with yourself, with its ups and downs, tapping into the depth of your psyche and why you do what you do, why you are who you are – I found that very moving. We knew we wanted to do something fun and un-fancy to do justice to the honesty that reverberates through this song.”
“It was all very lo-fi DIY. We all mucked in but ultimately, it was the puppet who had to carry it off,” says Tim. “Jack came to the studio in London to lend a hand to his alter-ego, giving him all his harmonica and guitar skills… We were a small group of friends tugging and pulling ‘Jacks’s’ ropes and 2 days into the shoot we clicked and felt we could all move together as one. The tune had become the intuitive guiding force for our collective nerve system… ”
For the Reef bassist and solo-artist, these latest solo projects are the culmination of a road long travelled. There’s a certain symmetry to his journey. Jack grew up on the West Country strawberry farm where he is now raising his own young family, re-immersed in the landscape of his childhood, reconnected to his community. He has worked to strip back the walls of the 14th century farmhouse to let his home breath, just as he has stripped back his music to let the work breath, resulting in a sound that is honest and organic.
Jack’s greater journey has taken in some of the highest altitudes a musician can strive for – from stadium tours to industry awards and platinum selling albums. As a band Reef started out close to the ocean, with weekly gigs by the beach and salt crusted hair – and it here he still feels most at home. It’s where he’s drawn to when he needs to recalibrate. “I love going camping and surfing, taking just a guitar and a harmonica,” he explains. “I have a lovely family, want to travel a bit, do some gigs here and there and live a little. This is the journey that I’m on and you don’t always want it to be the same, you want to flow.”