Gavin Fitzjohn is a Welsh producer and multi-instrumentalist whose credits include work with the likes of Manic Street Preachers, Gruff Rhys and Paolo Nutini, but this month he’s releasing his debut solo album under the name 299. Inspired by a wandering trip around the United States and recorded in snatches of time between his other work, his debut album The 299 Game draws on the wisdom of great American songwriters and the sound of the country itself, which emanates from the very dust his songs ramble across.
With a couple of singles out in the world already, we have the pleasure of bringing you one more, “A Short Goodbye”, before it hits streaming platforms tomorrow. Introducing the song, 299 says: “Generally I like to write enigmatically using a lot of imagery but in the case of A Short Goodbye events are detailed quite specifically. It’s a very personal story about losing someone who had lost themselves.”
Though recorded with less fidelity than most modern songwriters, Fitzjohn’s heart and pain come resounding out of “A Short Goodbye”, clear and burning as the desert sun. “I let my guard down once in a while,” he admits at the start, and, with a slightly ramshackle arrangement of rustic guitar and atmospheric handclaps, “A Short Goodbye” sounds as if Fitzjohn is loosening his lips and processing his tender emotions in real time, against his better judgement. His drawling voice and quivering tone reveal more beneath the weathered words, giving an elemental texture to the pain he feels at the loss of his brother in arms. Fitzjohn may hail from Wales, but his music shares the soul of a wanderer in the old west, and “A Short Goodbye” is an affecting message direct from the hidden heart of the cowboy troubadour.