On May 28, Justin Sullivan steps out from New Model Army to release his second solo album. It comes 18 years after his first solo album — 2003’s Navigating by the Stars.
Surrounded is a collection of 16 new songs written in the first weeks of the 2020 lockdown. These songs are again stunning guitar and vocal compositions highlighting Sullivan’s love of storytelling, wide open landscapes, and unforgettable atmospheres. Pre-order it here.
Watch the video for the first single “Amundsen,” which gives an emotional first insight into this very personal album, here.
“The stories of polar (and in particular Antarctic) adventurers at the beginning of the 20th Century have long been a fascination,” Sullivan explains regarding the new single. “On my first solo record, [the song] ‘Ocean Rising’ is, in part, the story of Ernest Shackleton’s epic voyage from Elephant Island to South Georgia. The final race to reach the South Pole between Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen is another fascinating tale. Being raised in England, Scott and his ‘noble, tragic’ failure is a story written large in national mythology but the other man, a truly remarkable explorer, is rarely acknowledged. The battle over who gets to tell which version of a story is very relevant in these times of ‘culture wars,’ but the song is more a simple study of the man himself. I hope I have done him justice.”
Mostly recorded at home, Surrounded also features contributions from many other musicians including Jon Thorne on bass (Lamb), Tom Moth (Florence and the Machine and brother of NMA bassist Ceri Monger) on harp, plus string arrangements from composer friends Tobias Unterberg, Henning Nügel, and Shir-Ran Yinon. Also featured are the current members of New Model Army. The album was mixed by Lee Smith, co-producer and mixer of New Model Army’s recent albums, including 2019’s From Here, at Greenmount Studios in Leeds.
“Under the circumstances, it wasn’t particularly surprising that this was the moment to make another solo record and the songs came thick and fast in the first few weeks of the lockdown,” Sullivan shares about the album. “There is not so much about ‘what’s happening in the world.’ As with Navigating by the Stars, which was written in the aftermath of 9/11, I wanted to write about other things — some well-known stories, some less well-known, a few autobiographical, and more a landscape of the imagination than social comment. I’m grateful for all the many musical contributions I received from friends that helped create all the different atmospheres and places; it’s a long album, but it seems that all the songs belonged together in one collection. I hope people enjoy it.”
The release of Surrounded will be accompanied by the re-release of Sullivan’s only previous solo album. 2003’s Navigating by the Stars was released on CD but has been unavailable for many years. Described by The Independent as having “the warm organic quality of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks,” the audio of this new version has not been altered but carries two additional tracks: “Sooner or Later,” which first appeared on a B-side in 2003, and “The Wreck of The Essex,” a song written and recorded later that same year that has laid dormant ever since except for a few live performances. Navigating by the Stars will be available digitally and, for the the first time ever, on vinyl. In addition, the debut album will come in a CD digisleeve edition with an expanded booklet as part of a limited CD box set edition of Surrounded, followed by a standalone release later this year.
SURROUNDED TRACK LISTING:
“COMING WITH ME”
“STONE AND HEATHER”
“DAUGHTER OF THE SUN”