singer - songwriter

Where Fantasy Flies was released in June 2016. It’s songs punctuated an otherwise difficult time with the loss of his Mother-in-law, his Mum and then his Dad. It was that time in life when these things can happen, but with each one just six months apart, music took a back seat.

Chris’ previous album had songs about family and Where Fantasy Flies does the same in very specific terms - No Ordinary Man (Pat Rogan).

The pull of his roots is also apparent in his use of a small, carefully selected set of acoustic instruments to accompany Chris’ warm voice and guitar. Of the Uilleann Pipes Chris says, “It’s a magical instrument. In one moment breathing warmth and heart into a song and in another provoking longing and mystery - I loved drawing into the mix”.

Here are the stories behind each track...

The title track Where Fantasy Flies was written as an entry into a competition for contemporary songs relating to modern day emigration from Ireland. Judged by none other than Christy Moore, the song received praise and was collected up by others to play until Chris decided he too would record it as title track on this album.

The loss of his Mother-in-law led to the inevitable and difficult task of sorting out her belongings. The Cumberland Lad was prompted by letters written many years before by Chris’ Father-in-law. He loved Cumberland with a passion and missed it terribly when he ‘did his bit’ in the far east like so many others of his generation and like them, never spoke of it.

Track three was a ‘must have’ and a natural follow-on to The Cumberland Lad. My Dad could dance, was a great singer and would turn his hand to almost anything. The stand-out however, was his love for his wife as told in No Ordinary Man (Pat Rogan).

Inspired by a book he had read, John F Kennedy was accused of weakness when he resisted the pressure of the US Armed Services to make war during the Cuban Missile Crisis and instead of matching missile for missile in a race to fire first, communicated his search for an alternative outcome through a blockade. Barbara Tuchman’s ‘The Guns of August 1914’ (1962) described the futility of the First World War as two sides simply matched each other gun for gun and soldier for soldier such that the front line barely moved after four years. Inspired to write The Guns of August 1914, Chris poignantly used the first and last recorded Commonwealth fatalities. John Parr killed 21st August 1914 in Mons and George Ellison killed 11th November 1918 barely a mile from where John Parr had been struck down four years earlier.

Let Down the Side is about a love that hangs by a thread and calls for honesty.

In another song based on fact, Tommy Flowers was a GPO Engineer who built Colossus, the world’s first computer that ran first time of asking and could break the encryptions of Enigma Machines in a fraction of the weeks and months it had taken human code breakers. However, unlike his peers who had Oxbridge backgrounds, Tommy simply got an inventor’s reward which didn’t meet his personal costs and was not invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society - “In company grand, Tommy Flowers did stand, but they signed the scroll his name did not know”.

Chris claims to have found the best coffee shop courtesy of his daughter. Intelligentsia in Chicago (although other coffee shops are available) doesn’t know it has such an admirer. Picturing her calling in for a cuppa makes the 4000 miles a little shorter!

Right Now is a love song where thankfully someone made the first move.

Following a trip to his local library in search of a short read, Chris came across “Ellen Strange; a Moorland Murder Mystery Explained’ by John Simpson (1988). This short text represented 10 years of research by members of the Helmshore Historical Society and corrected a 200 year old myth. The Ballad of Ellen Strange stays true to fact and not only marks what is thought to be the oldest commemoration of domestic violence, but links it to present day and the continuation of this brutal  and often unreported acts of violence today.

It’s Near - it’s always good to think like a child that next Christmas is getting near, even on Boxing Day!

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Chris reveals some of the stories behind the tracks in this Chorley FM interview on SoundCLoud

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