Concrete Prairie are a pretty on the money Brit-Americana roots group out of the South West (of the UK). It feels like the could slip into a certain groove more authentically than the one the Mumford people have vacated. The band features lead singer, guitarist and harmonica player Joe Faulkner, Adam Greeves is on vocals, guitar, mandolin and harmonica, Dan Burrows, adds harmonies and plays bass and banjo. There's also there’s Georgia Browne on fiddle and Tom Hartley on drums. Concrete Prairie's self-titled album comes out on Good Deeds Music on September 2nd, and right here, Joe talks you through it, track by track.
Picking Up Pieces
This song is about fatherhood and just how much I treasure my daughter. It’s something that didn’t really sink in till she was about 4 years old and she was probably around 6 by the time I wrote this song. It touches on how shit life can be and the fact I’ll always be there for her.
I Wish You Well
Despairing at the state of the world around me - the hate, the division and the constant pitting people against each other by society/governments/media - I decided there was some mileage in writing a song about embracing people who are different to myself; an anthem for the fellow man if you will.
Despite how unique we are as individuals, we largely go through the same things in life - school, break-ups, bereavement, bullying, failed dreams etc, it’s just that we experience it on a different scale and process it differently. I wanted to write a song to strangers which at its core is essentially me saying “i wish you well with life”.
The Annabelle character is fictional (though they exist in myriad forms) and is used to signify people whose life differs to my own, whether this be through race, religion, sexuality, class or gender.
Bury My Blues
Everyone has good and bad days but in recent years this has become better understood. Despite still being short in terms of response and treatment to it, the world is wisening to the importance of mental well-being.
I wrote this song for my friends, family and acquaintances who suffer from some form of mental health issues. I wanted to celebrate the fact that even if they weren’t in the best condition mentally that they are still good people and can have good times. Hope among despair. This is why it’s an upbeat number, straying away from the darkness that may have already descended in order to lift them up “if only for a day”.
I also wanted to shine a light on the fact that the public will often judge someone’s health on how they look or present, when really health is - and should - be treated holistically, linking both body and mind. This was the inspiration behind the final verse of “a prisoner of health/my wounds they go by stealth/pain ain’t always what you see” being marked out musically before the final choruses hit.
No matter how perfect or awful your life is, hard times will always come and this song is a reminder to just keep going, rather than take route of suicide - something later explored in Adam’s song Winter Town. The verses visualise a deadbeat town where fortunes come & go rapidly; a farmer from afar struggling to harvest food for his family and the final verse outlines the previously mentioned perpetual nature of hard times. This last verse gives a nod to Winter Town, which I thought would be nice to kind of tether the songs together: this one about grinding through and Winter Town about giving up.
Day by Day
Dan and I lost one of our best friends to a sudden death at the age of 29 which shook our friendship group to its core. We were honoured to be asked to do readings at his funeral, which I rate as one of my life’s proudest moments despite all the sadness. With most funerals I attend I always think to myself “right, I need to do more with my life” and have some sort of crises about what I should be doing with my time. This desire usually fizzles out after about two weeks as normal life resumes and we go about our business. With this death, however, I became acutely aware that we might not even wake up tomorrow so we better get doing as much as we can - now.
This got me thinking about maximising my time on earth and how best to do this. The answer in my mind was to be more spontaneous and make only loose plans, which can morph and change rather than be stuck to rigid arrangements made in advance, often to our own detriment. Why not visit the dentist in the morning, do the shopping in the afternoon, see your friends in the evening, get home to do the kid’s bedtime AND spend a quality evening with your partner all in one day rather than spreading it out across the week? Why not say “yes” to a last-minute invite? Why not scrap your diary plans and head to the beach? As hard as it is to live by, I try and live to the sentiments of this song both for the benefit of myself and in memory of our best mate. The last line of the verses “you never know how yawning the grave” is a great driver for me personally and I hope it can be for others. Life is finite and it can be over in a moment.
This was inspired by my late teens & twenties when I was finding my feet socially and seeing what avenues my friends and family were going down and later the hindsight of it all. Some were doing ridiculous things and forgetting just how fragile life can be. We only get one shot at this (allegedly) and looking back people just had no regard for it all. I guess that’s being young.
I find it fascinating how some people can treat their bodies appallingly and live till 90 and others can treat their bodies like a temple and not make 30. Again quite a tragic tune married to an uplifting melody, which goes hand in hand with the juxtaposition between living your life to the max while potentially destroying its very existence.
Time to Kill
This song was essentially written to a brief for one gig and I worked so hard on it that it became a band staple.
We were offered to play a “Seven Deadly Sins” night put on by my friend, M Butterfly, whereby seven artists would pull a sin out of a hat and then write & perform a song based around said sin. We got the sin of Sloth and the first thing I did was panic about the deadline as I had never written to a deadline (or brief) before.
Over a few months I teased out chords & melody to form what the song is today. The song documents a young teenager who is driven to murder by a series of events such as resources being cut off around him. Totally inspired by London knife crime and the systematic closure of vital youth services over the past decade. I was heavily into Western movies when writing this song hence the murder ballad theme and big, twangy guitar intro.
Wine On My Mind
This song is sung from the vantage point of an alcoholic, inspired by my Mum’s dependence on the substance as well the misuse by billions of others. With reflection and empathy I constructed this tune by jumping into their shoes and thought hard about how tough it must be to have such a tasty, legal, ubiquitous and yet deadly vice. No hope in this one.
The Devil Dealt The Deck
At 8 minutes 20 seconds this isn’t for the faint hearted. Although this song weaves both autobiographical and fictional lyrics together it is ultimately inspired by the cruel lottery of birth.
I had a friend who would always make jokes of others misfortunes but one day we got chatting about somebody and rather than pile in with the jokes my friend said “nah he’s been dealt a duff deck hasn’t he”. The line stuck with me for various reasons and I later started to notice that it applied to a lot of people. Even before birth people are assigned to gender/class/poverty/power etc and this ultimately shapes your life as soon as you enter the world. I twisted this into the Country/Blues trope of the mythical Devil somehow dealing the cards of life before birth and the chorus/title was born. It follows a dark and morose theme throughout (as songs featuring a Devil should) leading to the ramming home of “the devil dealt the deck/he burdened both my shoulders with satan’s silhouette/the devil dealt the deck/the devil did, the devil did/the devil dealt the deck.
Concrete Prairie is available from Sept 2nd from Good Deeds Music.
Find Concrete Prairie here
Bandcamp - https://concreteprairie.
Good Deeds - Concrete Prairie - CD Pre-Order | Good Deeds Music (bigcartel.com)
I like to look at things while listening to things I am not looking at. But doesn't everyone.
about Lee Paul »»
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