John Illsley gets dark on new album

Dire Straits bassist returns with Long Shadows

By David Sands
June 2, 2016

The sultan of bass is back with something a little shadowy.

Yep, John Illsley of Dire Straits has returned to the limelight with his first studio effort since 2014’s Testing the Waters. While his previous release examined personal trials and tribulations, several tracks on his new album, Long Shadows, have him ruminating on the troubling state of our contemporary world.

While Illsley holds down bass, acoustic guitar and lead vocals on the album’s eight tracks, he’s enlisted several talented friends and family members to assist him here. His old Dire Straits bandmate, Guy Fletcher, shows up to play keyboards and Simon Johnson, who’s played with Lana del Rey, handles electric guitar. Backing vocals are also provided by his children, Jess and Dee Dee.

Although Illsley is usually pretty tight-lipped about the meaning of his lyrics, this time around he’s opened up a little bit about their context. “In the Darkness,” for example, is a bluesy meditation on problematic aspects of the internet, how it seduces people into things like extremist religious groups and pornography. (SEE VIDEO BELOW.)

“There’s a dark side to it, specifically with the radicalisation issue which has been pretty prominent in the last year or two,” he told Team Rock in a recent interview.

“But also, it’s not really talked about much, but the influence of pornography over the internet. I think in the long term for a number of people it will cause serious psychological problems.”

“Ship of Fools,” which is dedicated to George Bush and Tony Blair looks at the role trickery played in instigating the conflict in Iraq, while “Long Shadow” examines the impact of celebrity culture on music. Other highlights include the somber instrumental “Morning” and a JJ Cale-inspired number called “Comes Around Again.”

Although Illsley recently downplayed the possibility of a Dire Straits reunion, fans can catch him playing his solo stuff at the U.K.’s Holt Festival on July 30.

Track Listing
1. Morning
2. In the Darkness
3. Comes Around Again
4. There’s Something About You
5. Ship of Fools
6. Lay Me Down
7. Long Shadow
8. Close to the Edge

Title: Long Shadows
Artist: John Illsley
Release Date: May 20, 2016
Label: Creek Touring and Records

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