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a Spirit Library
a Spirit Library

PRESS RELEASE:  a Spirit Library

Following Carved in Bone and Atlantic Drifter, Shropshire borderlands based singer songwriter Jonathan Day releases his third studio album a Spirit Library, at the beginning of April.

Recorded at SFG studio in the Berwyn Mountains and at the Magic Garden, the new album’s working title was Vagabond Language; taken from Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited “Perhaps all our loves are merely hints and symbols; vagabond-language scrawled on gate-posts and paving-stones”. The album early on seemed to follow Atlantic Drifter – exploring the travelling life, searching for beauty, meaning and connection on the road. In the end, the collection of songs that became a Spirit Library are more about arriving and finding.

A number of them were written while he was out walking, or sitting alone on cliffs and in forests and hills near to his home. It’s an activity which is a huge part of his semi-nomadic, hermit lifestyle, and one that proffers him space to be with ideas, inclinations – and instruments. He loves language and found inspiration for lyrics from a variety of sources, including a seventh century Gaelic poet, the memoirs of Everest explorers Mallory and Irvine, Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse, Mary Webb’s Gone To Earth, words and stories  from Tlingit, Khoisan and Jero, and the philosophical musings and wisdom of Black Elk, a Lakota visionary.

However hermit-like he may now be, Jonathan has never been someone to turn down unusual concert offers and tour dates in faraway lands, which in turn has resulted in a burgeoning collection of unusual instruments, accumulated along the way. He explains “Performing overseas quite a lot has opened my ears to all sorts of new sounds. Instruments are fascinating things – solid, fragile, physical things. Their sounds, though, can lift us, like keys opening onto strange, fascinating and wonderful place/times. This recording features many such objects – made of metal, wood and wire – sourced from musicians and traders I’ve met while travelling.”

There is a gu zheng on 9th June 1924 bought from a trader in Kowloon, China, alongside a tanpura from a store in a Chennai alleyway and a pair of iron gongs from the garden forge of a smith in Klunkung, Bali. The most recent addition is a saung gauk (Burmese harp), sourced for him by Warwar San, a leading player of the instrument who he met at a festival, and who taught Jonathan the rudiments. It features on A Woman Made Of Leaves and Gone to Earth. Central to a number of songs is a butterfly dulcinette from Kalighat in India. These sit surprisingly easily alongside his 1964 Burns guitar and a percussion section stolen from the kitchen!

Jonathan describes the album “I started to dream of a Spirit Library, a place for all that’s wonderful and enduring about humanity – literature, painting, medicine, music, kindness, empathy, science, philosophy. Somewhere that aims to preserve these ideas and ideals against times of challenge, and to keep what’s good about us safe and alive when everything that we hold dear seems so under threat. I imagine it as somewhere over a sea – an island perhaps or near the shore of a different land. Stunning and enthralling, a place full of love, light and compassion. The individual songs happen in rooms or spaces within and extending from the library. The atrium, where the Kailash Maake string quartet performs an opening piece of welcome, is an entry point, if you like. At the same time, aspects and moments of it – call it the travelling library perhaps – can also appear anywhere and at any time. Like fabled fairy towns that are there only for a day, or times when we sense the presence of something wonderful – just around the corner or at the edges of sight. It was in this way that I found a key inspiration for the album on waste ground in the heart of a desolate and semi derelict city.

Maybe a Spirit Library is a place I’ve been looking for and – chimerical though it might be – finally found.”

The track listing for A Spirit Library is:

1 A Spirit Library – Welcome for Those Arriving, Lament for Those Lost on the Way

2 In Memory, a Crossing of Great Seas 

3 A Woman Made of Leaves has Labrodorite Eyes 

4 Gone to Earth 

5 Cajsa’s Tears (Les Mariées Perdues)

6 From a High Stone Gallery, Open to the Sea, I See it is New Year 

7 Lost Languages Cafe 

8 Pipistrelle Fly Beneath a Vault of Stars 

9 June 9th 1924 (A Place Of Mountains)

10 Sanctuary 

11 In a Hall of Ravens, a Harp is Tangled with the Books

Each album will be personalised with a specific ‘date-of-issue’ stamp, on the back of the credits and track listing insert, which is hand-printed by Naomi Kent on 40 year old vintage paper, using letterpress (you can feel the imprint of the letters).

Jonathan Day will be touring from spring until late summer to support the release.   A highlight was the recent performance and a Spirit Library soft launch at the University of Mona, Kingston, Jamaica on 13 February.

Further dates include:


23 – Folk Workshop, Hong Kong

24 – More Than Folk, City Hall, Hong Kong


11-14 Graz, Austria, Jazz Journeys

19 Sun Inn Llangollen with VU

Hermon Chapel, Oswestry (tbc)


04 Radbrook Hall, Shrewsbury


22/6 Gimme Shelter celebration concert, Shrewsbury

23/6 Glastonbury Festival (tbc)


02-04 Landed Festival

08-11 Phoenix Festival

28-30 Sonic Experience, Bangkok (headline act)


Jonathan Day can be seen performing Pipistrelle Fly Beneath A Vault Of Stars HERE and a video of Cajsa’s Tears (Les Mariées Perdues) is available to view HERE. A Spirit Library is released 02 April on the NiiMiika label and available to pre order online at

Neville Street @StellaSix

meye guitar
meye guitar