Local blues rockers Fugitive & The Vagabond have gone from strength to strength in 2016. Earlier this month they released their poetic debut album Novella, which includes their two Triple J Unearthed chart toppers My Girlfriend and Time Travelin’ Blues.
A diverse collection of musical stories, the album is accompanied by a book of drawings by local artist Stacey Bradley that delve into the meanings behind the music.
“When planning the art for Novella, I wanted to complement the richness of Jordan’s storytelling. In each song I hear the overarching themes of isolation, alcoholism, and sardonic fatalism that visually put me into this gritty, 1950s film noir world. This classic genre fit the beautiful rawness of Fugitive & the Vagabond’s sound, so I decided to treat the album art like scenes from a movie,” said Stacey.
Get to know these artistic music makers by clicking through Stacey’s beautiful visual and written track-by-track interpretations of Novella (below) grab a copy of the record HERE.
‘NOVELLA’ TRACK-BY-TRACK BY STACEY BRADLEY
(Click > arrow to move to next track description)
'Novella' Album Cover
For the front cover, I wanted to creatively incorporate the band’s name and album title into this story world. “Fugitive & the Vagabond” sounded like a movie title, and “Novella” just worked as the name of a dive bar; a haven for lone sojourners. I planned the art to revolve around a central character; a mysterious musician. We never get close enough to see his face. Each drawing is a scene in his story, and each song a narration to his internal monologue.
Track 1. You Got Him
Alcoholism is a repeated concept throughout Novella, so the idea of introducing our character in a bar made sense to me. If you look close enough, you’ll see that he is actually inside the Novella Bar that features on the album’s cover.
Track 2. Talkin’ City Blues
In the early concept stages, this was the first drawing I sketched out. I tried to put myself into Jordan’s headspace for when he wrote Talkin’ City Blues, and all I could see was this dimly lit figure hunched over a typewriter. It was such a sad, lonely, yet striking image that I felt really embodied the song.
Track 3. Pitiful Blues
It took me a while to figure out the right composition for this one. The original artwork was of the musician performing to an empty room. In theory it was a pitiful image, but once I’d drawn it, it just wasn’t right. I scrapped it and started again. The new artwork captures this character in a low and private moment; the song a narration to his very real and complex emotions, brought on by lies he sees on the screen.
Track 4. My Girlfriend
As I’m also the artist who created the My Girlfriend music video, I couldn’t help but make a reference to it. Again, we’re in the Novella Bar, with a few of the video’s characters portrayed as art and posters adorning the wall. As for what he’s writing, it could be a song, but I like to think it’s a note.
Track 5. Queen of Versailles
With this song, I imagined a young girl who ran away for a life of glamour, but ended up with the wrong crowd. My story behind the artwork revolves around her. There’s a sense of sad irony because the girl did end up in a world of glamour and glitter, but not quite the one she wanted. In my mind, the musician knew her in his youth. She doesn’t know it yet, but they’re about to reunite for the first time in years.
Track 6. Dressed In Gold
I absolutely adore this song. It’s so fun. From the first verse, I had images of a stumbling drunk pop up in my head. The moment I heard the line “drinking whiskey and hanging by the phone,” I could see the final drawing in my mind’s eye. The homeless drunk sparks memories for the musician; he’s been there before many times.
Track 7. Reality Blues
Another song I adore. The original artwork was of the musician standing on a station platform as a train approached. It was an okay drawing, but it didn’t complement the song. I put the song on again and closed my eyes. Soon enough, the composition you see now formed in my head. It’s a dynamic image that I feel captures the essence of the character’s thoughts.
Track 8. Lighter and Note
This one would definitely be the most literal of the artworks. The song is so beautiful, and I felt drawing anything other than what was being described would be an injustice. The emotional vulnerability of the third verse gets me every time.
Track 9. The Wild
All the artworks are linked, but this one’s a direct continuation from the previous scene. The musician’s hurting; he’s alone, he’s tired, he’s fragile, and the ad on the train taunts him with a false escape.
Track 10. Time Travelin’ Blues
I knew I wanted a femme fatale in at least one of the artworks, and this was the song to do it for. I view Time Travelin’ Blues as the musician’s narration of the people he comes across in his story’s finale. The woman is the first person he meets. She’s bad news; he knows it. He’s been here before, but he can’t resist dancing with the devil.