WORKING CLASS HERO FOR THE 21st CENTURY ROBERT VINCENT EXPLORES THE COMMONALITY OF THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE ON THIRD FULL-LENGTH ALBUM IN THIS TOWN YOURE OWNED, OUT FEBRUARY 14, 2020 VIA THIRTY TIGERS
LIVERPOOL, U.K. — “People say you should just stick to music and keep your opinions to yourself but I find that entirely the opposite of what songwriting should be,” explains award-winning singer-songwriter Robert Vincent of his third album, In This Town You’re Owned. He continues, “We should be the ones that are bothered by what goes on in society.”
On In This Town You’re Owned, Vincent returns with his most relevant album to date, produced by BRIT (British Record Industry) award-winning Ethan Johns — acclaimed for his production work with Paul McCartney, Kings of Leon and Laura Marling, among others. With the new album, Vincent deals in hard truths and easy melodies, furthering the tradition of classically crafted songwriting that asks the difficult questions about everyday emotions. “I’m just really interested in the human condition and how people react to things.” In This Town You’re Owned sees Vincent at his most contemporary, and with a bigger scope of vision than ever before. MOJO described Vincent as “a young man filled with dreams, regret and shocking talent, giving his all,” while Q has called his music “thoroughly modern country rock.”
Since his 2013 debut album, Life in Easy Steps, the Liverpudlian has become an acclaimed new voice in Americana, country and folk. Having received the inaugural Emerging Artist Award from famed British broadcaster “Whispering” Bob Harris in 2016 — who described him as ‘”absolutely magnetic,” Vincent was then invited onto BBC4’s Old Grey Whistle Test: For One Night Only. That performance marked a real breakthrough for the musician, establishing him as one of the U.K.’s leading lights in Americana and propelling him to #1 in the iTunes Country chart.
Vincent was born in Crosby, and his upbringing in Liverpool inculcated him with a very Merseyside culture of storytelling and language. “I always wrote words, I’m always in that world — a world of my own with words, really.” The key influence, however, would be the American records that his father would play around the house when Vincent was growing up.
Just as the Mersey faces out to the Atlantic Ocean, Liverpool families were devouring sounds from over in America. Vincent’s father introduced him to iconic artists including Waylon Jennings and Emmylou Harris — the influences remain palpable on Vincent’s music to this day.
Sharing a room with his older brother, Robert also received an early education in Pink Floyd, “although playing someone Pink Floyd from the age of ten is maybe some form of child cruelty,” jokes Vincent, “but it really had a massive impact on me.” Last year, he was invited to open for his hero Roger Waters in Hyde Park, testament to the shared sensibility passed down through those Pink Floyd records at home.
Vincent still lives in Liverpool and the city continues to inspire his writing. “It’s one of those cities that encourages you to speak up and that if you don’t like something, you point it out,” he asserts. “This Town,” the album’s opener, may be about Liverpool, but could be about anyone’s town. “It’s the micro and the macro,” says Vincent. “You could look at that as a small town or you could look at that as the world. That’s kind of what this new album’s about. I couldn’t help but write about those things that have been going on over the last two or three years. Whether it’s this country or America, whether it’s Trump or Brexit, everyone’s now in a furor, so it’s all about that.”
Looking again to his native Liverpool, Vincent observes life in his hometown — as well as the current, chaotic state of the world — with the acute eye of a master songwriter. Faith, and lack of faith, is one of the central themes of the record. “Take ‘Kids Don’t Dig God Anymore’: “It wasn’t necessarily about God,” Vincent states, “but in the old days people grew up with faith — now it doesn’t seem to be there anymore, so I start to wonder what there is now. I’m not particularly religious, but what’s gone out the window is people being spiritual.”
Through songwriting and the Liverpudlian oral tradition of storytelling, perhaps we can understand a little more of what unites us. It isn’t all the bigger picture though, for Vincent is proficient in matters of the heart, exemplified by the unexpectedly soulful track “The Ending,” which declares that “love has a way of mending/nobody knows the ending.”
Once the touring schedule for his critically acclaimed sophomore release I’ll Make the Most of My Sins wound down in 2018, Vincent had a stockpile of songs that seemed to speak to the mood of the moment. He was keen to record them quickly and authentically.
“For me, music has become quite stale and lifeless, and what I love about music is the imperfections that are in there, especially in the recording process,” he says. “I’d been listening to Ethan Johns’ productions for years,” so inviting the BRIT Award-winning producer on board was a natural fit. Vincent and his six-piece band decamped to the iconic Rockfield Studios, and quickly Johns was contributing to the sessions musically as well. “He jumped in, which I was kind of hoping would happen anyway,” Vincent smiles.
“We recorded straight to 16-track tape, very minimal overdubs and everything was live,” notes Vincent of the recording process. Such was the hypnotic spirit between the musicians and the strength of Vincent’s material that all of In This Town You’re Owned was recorded and mixed in two weeks flat. Don’t mistake such speed for a lack of care — the new record includes Vincent’s most ambitious work to date, ‘The End of the War,” nine minutes long, with not a second wasted. “There’s a life at the end of the war” sings Vincent, suggesting a light at the end of the tunnel of our present moment.
Though Vincent’s tastes are eclectic and his influences many, the Americana circuit continues to provide support and inspiration for him as an artist. “It’s nice to have a family and have a home,” he says. “In itself it’s priceless — it can be quite lonely being a musician.” Most importantly, Vincent continues to knuckle down and hunker away at his craft: “I feel like I'm missing a trick if I don’t write every day because every day you’re different. Constant movement, constantly writing as much as you can so you’re capturing different light and shade.”