Struggle With Glory, the brand new album by The Cat Empire’s Harry James Angus is locally released today, Friday March 2. A re-imagining of the classic tales from Greek mythology set to gospel, jazz and soul music, the album is another impressive step in an extraordinary musical journey for the Melbourne-born, Mullumbimby-based musician.
Harry James Angus has come far from the fresh-faced, but committed teen taking his first tentative steps on the path to jazz. Finding critical and commercial success on stages and charts across the globe with Australia’s beloved The Cat Empire, the jazz disciple, trumpeter and sublime vocalist has succeeded in branching out with a number of acclaimed projects of his own.
In a different approach to the Latin infused sounds of The Cat Empire, Struggle With Glory steps back into more of an old fashioned style of playing, both constrained and confident in its delivery, with a jazz integrity heavily connected to where Harry found his musical beginnings.
Struggle With Glory comes from a love of jazz, gospel, vocal harmonies and trumpet and an inspired thought while reading some Greek mythology to his 5-year-old son. The author explains that he was drawn to Greek mythology because, “the myths are such great stories, but more than that they tell us something about ourselves, these deep dark stories that can mean so many things. To juxtapose that with this great, kinda fun beautiful and energetic music, which is the jazz tradition and the gospel tradition, it’s just a good mix!”
On ‘Paper Faces’ is the tale of Persephone and Hades comes to life, Persephone was the daughter of the goddess of the harvest, and she was kidnapped to become Hades bride. Harry explains further, “what was different about this project was that I picked a story and then I wrote a song. There’s a song called “Light Of The Moon” which is about the Moon Goddess who fell in love with a simple shepherd and could only visit him when he was asleep. So he just slept all the time so this goddess could come and visit him!”
Another highlight of the album is “Kill The Priest,” the only song on the record that isn’t drawn from a myth, but is drawn from the first chapter of a famous book on mythology called call The Golden Bough, written by the Scottish anthropologist Sir James George Frazer. The author paints the picture of a Roman ritual, where the idea of a priest who guards a sacred place can only be replaced by the person that kills him. Harry continues, “So you’re the priest, but the whole time you know that at any moment the next priest that is going to replace him could be sneaking up behind him with a knife. I just thought that was quite an interesting concept.”
“I Saw Red” is based on The Rage Of Achilles, which Harry describes as, “a really, really powerful moment in the Iliad.” “Up until this point,” he continues Achilles hasn’t joined the battle, he has sailed all the way over to Troy but hasn’t joined the battle because of some internal politics in his own camp. So all these Greeks are getting killed and he’s like the best fighter ever, he’s the hero, so everyone knows as soon as he joins the battle they’ll win, but he just refuses to join in. Not because he’s a pacifist, but simply because of pride. So essentially his love Patroclus is killed by Hector, so he flies into this rage and massacres everyone, it’s about the terrifying rage of Achilles, so that’s a great starting point for a song too.”
Harry James Angus – Struggle With Glory Tour Dates
March 1 Perth Festival, WA
March 14 & 15 Adelaide Festival, SA
March 17 The Peninsula Picnic, Vic
June 1 Mullumbimby Civic Hall, NSW
June 2 Bellingen Memorial Hall, NSW