Posted on 1st December 2020

We are delighted to introduce bluesman S.J. Downes and his new EP - ‘Lion’s Path’, to be released on Friday 11th December.

S.J. Downes.  Photograph by Ted Riederer (Never Records)



We are delighted to introduce bluesman S.J. Downes and his new EP - ‘Lion’s Path’, to be released on Friday 11th December.

The 'Lion’s Path' EP was written and recorded by Downes in the summer of 2020, comprising of four subtle and nuanced instrumental compositions.  Recorded in real time to tape at his home studio, the tracks feature harmonica and multiple guitars, including a century old Lyon & Healy that takes central voicing on glass bottleneck slide. 

These beautifully layered recordings and arrangements capture the organic and spontaneous process, and take the listener on an acoustic journey from the 1920s into the 21st century.  Contained within the EP are 4 tracks, 3 acoustic voices, 2 magnetic tape machines and 1 giant tortoise called Darwin - overseeing the proceedings.   Aside from that, Downes takes care of all writing, playing and production.

LOVE, DEATH, HOPE, and UNITY perhaps simply describe the overall theme of each track…

"A rare opportunity of a crossroads in time, away from the discord and chaos of the outer world, to safely journey within my own soul and explore my inner landscape of causality, guided solely by the twin auspices of my intuition that Courage will command and Peace will prevail led to these sounds surfacing in their spontaneous nature. I feel delighted that they form my first official release in collaboration with Mellowtone Records."
S.J. Downes, November 2020

The Lion's Path EP is released on Friday 11th December.



Artwork for 'Lion's Path' by Jono Jones, from a concept by S.J. Downes

S.J. Downes’ work spans the worlds of roots, folk, blues and old time, influenced by musicians and writers from the 1920s and beyond.  Drawing inspiration from spirituality to the natural world - the macro to the micro - he gives the meditative productions on Lion's Path a flavour all his own, with a conscious and hopeful energy present throughout.

Photograph by Angela Christofilou

Mellowtone’s relationship with S.J. Downes began back in 2007 when the traveling bluesman first called Liverpool his home, with Mellowtone promoting his debut live performance in the city.   He also featured on Mellowtone Records’ inaugural compilation, ‘Ten Years’, in 2014.   Downes’ time in Liverpool also saw the start of a long time collaboration with Never Records - an art project by New York artist and musician Ted Riederer, where he travels to a city, and opens a pop up record shop and recording studio, cutting live records throughout.  Downes has since recorded at ‘Never Records’ exhibits in Derry, London, New Orleans, Amman, Kansas City, and Brooklyn - the only musician to play every event.

"Cradled in his hands the guitar transforms into an instrument of divination. I have witnessed SJ Downes channel resonant frequencies in a cave at Petra, underneath radio towers on the Kansas prairie, and seated on a levee on the banks of the Mississippi.I testify that his ability to improvise, as if the notes were spontaneously conjured by the music, is perhaps one of my greatest inspirations for continuing on my musical path.”
Ted Riederer, Never Records

“as authentic as you can get” 
Liverpool Acoustic

“celebrating the vast array of early blues talent, now oft-forgotten with the passing of time” 

“haunting renditions”
Bido Lito

“the crowd sit quietly and appreciatively before what rapidly became a blues masterclass”