James Dean Bradfield: Even in Exile review – A fine collection

Fri, Aug 14, 2020, 05:00

   
 

Album:
Even in Exile

Artist:
James Dean Bradfield

Label:
MontyRay

Genre:
Alternative

The Clash, Christy Moore, Calexico, Bert Jansch, U2 and Simple Minds have all written about Victor Jara, the Chilean singer, theatre director, poet and activist who was killed during the reign of Gen Pinochet. Now, for his second solo album (and first since 2006) Manic Street Preachers singer and guitarist James Dean Bradfield is focusing on the founder of the Nueva Canción Chilena (New Chilean Song) movement.

Nicky Wire and Bradfield’s cousin Sean Moore aren’t on board, as the Manics remain on hiatus after Resistance Is Futile in 2018. But Wire’s brother, the distinguished Welsh playwright and writer Patrick Jones, contributes lyrics to Even in Exile. “Some time at the start of 2019, Patrick gave me a handful of poems each of which touched on different aspects of Victor Jara’s life,” Bradfield explains. “When I read them, I was struck by the idea that if a life means anything, it will continue after death.”

Bradfield describes the album as “a loving act of artistic archeology and a fitting tribute to a great mind”, and his familiar voice and guitar technique shine. The single The Boy from the Plantation is from the Manics songbook, a widescreen tribute to the life, times and emergence of the inspirational Chilean icon, who was brutally murdered in 1973.

Even in Exile doesn’t always hit the mark, but it’s a fine collection from an accomplished singer before the Manics return to the fray. In times such as these, Bradfield’s passionate voice and sonic food for thought provides a balm and a comfort.