‘Thistle & Thorn’ is the fourth album by Irish songwriter John Blek.

Opening song ‘The Blackwater’ quickly sets the tone of the album as one that uses the vivid imagery of nature’s beauty and colours to spin tales of love, loss and personal struggle. It is a theme continued throughout songs such as ‘Colours Rising’, ‘Lily In The Garden’ and most noticeably on the beautiful love song “North Star Lady”. 

It is possibly no coincidence that Blek chose the first day of Celtic Spring (1st February) to release the album. 

‘Rise Up’ is a message of hope as it looks a how life can often be a lonely struggle and points out in somewhat wry way that salvation isn’t always to be found in religion, but often in the company of family and friends.

Stripped back arrangements often featuring nothing more than guitar and vocal allow Blek’s voice and lyrics to rise to the fore. And, when more instrumentation is added on ‘All the Night’ and ‘If I’ it perfectly and subtly encapsulates and enhances the mood of the music.

‘Forever In Your Likeness’ appears to be a homage to lost parent and again demonstrates the descriptive and heartfelt nature of Blek’s lyrics.

Ireland has a long history of producing storytellers and poets. John Blek is both and more. This album delivers more feeling and quality song crafting than any of the current over produced radio friendly Irish artists. Blek’s beautiful and thoughtful lyrics are a work of creative beauty rarely seen or heard in modern music. He may not take you to church, but he will take you to song writing heaven.

John Blek with perfom an intimate album launch show in No Alibis Book shop, Belfast with Malojian on Friday the 8th of February. Tickets available online.