Ten years as a singer and guitar player in various modern rock and electro bands paved the way for French songwriter Arno Sojo’s new solo incarnation, of a somewhat different nature. Aptly named Sweet Gum Tree and influenced by the timeless beauty of refined vintage records, it merely embodies his quest for a smoother, more organic sound.

Initially intriguing French audiences from 2010 to 2012 with a trickle of singles and Eps showcasing a poetic chamber pop, praised as ‘lush’ and ‘spellbinding’ in the press, Sweet Gum Tree was soon sharing stages with such names as Heather Nova and Gaëtan Roussel.

This year saw him put the final touches to his forthcoming debut album, a collection of thoughtful bittersweet ballads tinged with dreamy melancholia. It was produced by David Odlum (Gemma Hayes) and Peter Deimel (Deus, Anna Calvi) at Studio Black Box in the French countryside. Among the guest musicians who joined the sessions, the stellar Isobel Campbell duets on ‘Bird of Passage’.

Not exactly a first for Arno, who in his early days already got to sing with one of his female icons, French popstar Buzy, when he started out as her live guitarist. That was before setting up his own band, Sojo Glider, in 2003. The pop-rock quartet released three albums and even recorded in New York with producer Malcolm Burn (Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith). Soon Arno was offered to collaborate with classical arranger Eric Voegelin, so the occasion arose to experiment with more acoustic textures, giving birth to Sweet Gum Tree.

Tindersticks drummer Earl Harvin, as well as Marty Willson-Piper (from Australian legends The Church), two of Arno’s strongest influences, not only played on the album but will also join Sweet Gum Tree’s live band, along with a string section, for his first UK tour this winter :

18.02.14 BRIGHTON KOMEDIA
19.02.14 BIRMINGHAM (TBC)
20.02.14 LONDON UNION CHAPEL