Night of a Thousand Crimes

by JB Newman & The Black Letter Band

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"Far off the banshee wail of police or fire sirens rose and fell, never for very long completely silent. Twenty four hours a day somebody is running, somebody else is trying to catch him. Out there in the night of a thousand crimes, people were dying, being maimed, cut by flying glass, crushed against steering wheels or under heavy tires. People were being beaten, robbed, strangled, raped, and murdered. People were hungry, sick; bored, desperate with loneliness or remorse or fear, angry, cruel, feverish, shaken by sobs. A city no worse than others, a city rich and vigorous and full of pride, a city lost and beaten and full of emptiness. It all depends on where you sit and what your own private score is. I didn't have one. I didn't care. I finished the drink and went to bed."

-- Raymond Chandler, 'The Long Goodbye'

Every song on this collection was recorded in a single six-hour studio session on a cold night in 2013.


"I threw [the album] at a taxi driver in a drunken haze"
-- Lameya Chaudhury, Photographer

“JB Newman and the Black Letter Band are amazing with the lead singers voice seeming to drip with sinister charm.”
— London Gig Guide

“...Shadow of a Dream is a delightfully different EP that is well worth your time. 'Atmosphere' is a word being bandied about to describe the EP and you can see why. There seems to be an element of showmanship in all aspects of the act, from the dramatic instrumentation and vocals to the sartorial state of the band and the associated artwork. They seem intent on forming something more than a regular touring band, an image, something recognisable as theirs.”
— Wake the Deaf

“...a prowling mixture of blues, rock n' roll, jazz and even lounge music. The word that springs to mind is "atmosphere", something this band must have in their veins instead of blood. 'Shadow Of A Dream' is all cinematic, subtle instrumentation that's plucked from a vintage jazz club for those with a taste for the darker side of life... like Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison finding themselves in the wrong building but deciding to play along with the band regardless... Sax that you wouldn't want to meet down a dark alley, even bigger guitar twangs and carefully considered and wonderfully fitting lyrics. Leave the cheesy music at home this Halloween and step out for a night on the underground with J.B Newman & The Black Letter Band instead. It'll be way more interesting.”
— The Sound of Confusion

“Haunting, lounge-y, and jazzy. Like a roadhouse band from a Lynch movie.”
— Ken Wohlrob, Brooklyn NY, Author of SONGS OF VAGABONDS, MISFITS, AND SINNERS

“What a great song!”
— David Wright, Radio Scilly

“The imagery is all you need to realise that this song is hardly likely to be 'Agadoo', and once it hits its stride then the layers of instrumentation come together, with the lyric "a hurricane of sound" being a fitting description. That tobacco-battered throat conveys plenty of passion as the brass and the piano add a lush backing that blends the worlds of blues, soul, rock and jazz. 'Black Lullaby' seems very much to be the product of some highly competent musicians who are all on the same wavelength, and what results is a very compelling song.”
— The Sound Of Confusion

“Smouldering, twisted, intoxicating”
— Tom Du Croz, London Gig Guide


released February 12, 2014

JB Newman: Vocals, Guitar, Synthesizers
Samuel Telford: Guitar
Danny Conroy: Keyboards
Dan Strange: Saxophone
Gideon K: Bass
Bryson DeMath: Drums

All Words & Music by JB Newman
Produced by Tom Newman & JB Newman
Engineered by Duncan Thornley
Recorded at River Rat Studio, London UK



all rights reserved


JB Newman & The Black Letter Band UK

JB Newman & The Black Letter Band bring you a shot of Haunting, Bluesy Rock'n'Roll with a surreal poetic twist. 'Like a roadhouse band from a Lynch movie'.

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Track Name: Black Lullaby
I see an angel that hangs suspended
In chains, in space between us
And its outspread wings cast a shadow
like a hand across your mouth

So I plucked its feather fingers,
Bought your lips their liberation
And I taught your tongue to sing the song
It's so long searching for

The Black Lullaby, Black Lullaby
That seeps between the stitches
In this sundered serenade
Black Lullaby, Black Lullaby
That tears away the veils
in the Lover's Masquerade

I heard Vincent lost his mind
Raving, bloodied, at his canvas
'Cause his eyes screamed out for colours
This dim sphere could not provide

I ransacked the library
For the scores of great composers
Joined the dots, and found some kind of
Lunatic's naked sketch of you

And a Black Lullaby, Black Lullaby
That tears away the torpor
Like a hurricane of sound
Black Lullaby, Black Lullaby
That leads me with its echo to where
Lost souls can be found

I tore the throat out of the wind,
Gagged the mouth of every river
Smashed all Beethoven's fingers
Cut the beaks off all the birds

'Cause I couldn't take the clatter
Of their sorry, jealous music
That clings to my skin like leeches
Trying to suck away the sound

Of your Black Lullaby, Black Lullaby
Rend apart the shackles
That keep the yearning tethered tight
And sing the Black Lullaby, Black Lullaby
The perfect hymn of flesh we sing together in the night
Track Name: Leave A Light On
Lady, bring your beauty and sit down next to me
Place your hand upon my heart, and know me finally
Falling was your fortune, but now you've come to rest
On the altar of the body, where our union will be blessed

Leave a Light On
For the trickster, for your thief
Leave A Light On
For the beggar, and the king who hides beneath

Lady, move in closer and listen to my song
Hear it beating in your breast to soothe you when I'm gone
The soul that lives between your cells is older than the stones
And in your throat live on these words, carved out of my bones

Leave A Light On
As we rehearse the little death
Leave a Light On
I'll be breathing in your breath

Lady, walk beside me to the final place of dread
The murderer is waiting there to rip my heart to shreds
The time has come to hand to you all that I have to give
So tear your ribs wide open, and find me where I live

Leave a Light On
When the ravens all have flown
Leave A Light On
So I can find my way back home

Leave A Light On
For the angel and the beast
Leave A Light On
Bring your shadows to the feast
Track Name: Under Suspicion
We've been tracking your movements for some time now
You're a very hard woman to find
We've built a file on every single face you've been hiding behind
Don't look so surprised, my dear
You know just why I've brought you here
No no no, don't play dumb with me
There's one thing, darling, you must understand
I assure you that I'm an unreasonable man
And you've been accused of sensitivity

So I'm Holding you Under Suspicion
Of learning the rules too well
And teaching your body to say all the secrets
your tongue was too scared to tell
You may think I look fine and tender
But, honey, I always play rough
And I'm Holding you Under Suspicion
Of Being in Love

They found him dead in an unmade bed,
strangled with his own heartstrings
They found his severed sense of trust
Stashed between your bedsprings
But i've still got my common sense,
Keep your hands off my hard evidence
I'm following a hunch, I'm on your case
The witnesses refuse to contradict you
and the judge is too shy to convict you
the laws of man are not written with a woman's grace

So I'm holding you under suspicion
of letting your heart beat too loud
and rolling the dice before you realised
what this little game was about
And it was me who drew the chalk outline
in the shape of a broken dove
and I'm holding you under suspicion of being in love

And now that I've got your attention, my dear
there's something I ought to admit
see, I'd be telling a lie if I told you that I
was 100% legit
You see, I'm afraid that I've led you astray
I'm still playing this game in my own little way
I told you the truth but, ah honey, not the whole truth
I simply let you believe what you saw
when you thought that my word was the word of the law
But I'm an impostor here, yes I'm just like you

And they're holding me under suspicion
of questioning all of the rules
and ignoring my duty to cast away beauty
and dance in the dark with the fools
and when I'd disobeyed all my orders,
I got a message from the office above
They're holding me under suspicion of being in love

The court's in remission upon one condition:
the total submission of my own volition
they're holding me under suspicion of being in love

And I'm holding you under suspicion...
Track Name: Shadow of a Dream
I heard you say something i don't understand
it's your choice if you want to lend me your hand
would you teach me your language, & its shimmering words
that cut me like diamonds and flutter like birds

I could be a thief, but I could be a king
If I could get to know you I could do anything

& I'll tell you something, I know you won't ask
I dreamed I kissed a tiger whose face was all glass
& behind its gold visage, behind its dark eyes
You stood like a mirror, reflecting my mind

You could leave me in rags, you could wrap me in silk
you could live to 500, your mystery won't wilt
as I hang by a breath on the hand of a star
don't know where to find you, don't know who you are

Oh my love, you're just the shadow of a dream
Just the shadow of a shadow of a dream

But I'd mirror my shield to hide from your stare
I'd build you a tower just to climb in your hair
& we'll hide from the wolf in a house made of bricks
& I'll wait for your boat by the old banks of the styx

sweet, the taste of your word that sleeps in my ear
sweet, the song in your eye that i followed down here

& i swear by my dreams and the song that i play
Don't know who you are, but i'll find you one day

Oh my love, you're just the shadow of a dream
Just the shadow of a shadow of a dream

I've been to the church and I heard what they say
That angels are light and men are just clay
But there's one thing I know - it's a thing I can't hide
It ain't what you say, it's what you got inside
Track Name: Holding Back the Time
There's a young man walking down a narrow road
With his head bowed down 'neath the weight of the load
Of a heart that burns harder, bound to explode
Because you can't hold back the time

He's been dealing with devils, trading the blame
of a guilty conscience laden with shame
& all he he had to give was a face and a name
But you can't hold back the time

A name is a thing that you must guard well
For names are used for chains in hell
Judas spoke a name and then he fell
Because you can't hold back the time

The old king tied himself to his throne
& said 'step back boys and see how it's done'
& the sea rose up, and guess who won
He was trying to hold back the time

A strong spirit is the armour of the wise
But pride is weakness in strength's disguise
A wooden horse for he who tries
To be Holding Back the Time

The pharaoh spat his wine out and said 'are you telling me
there's frogs in the air and there's blood in the sea
just because a buncha white boys wanna be free?
Well, you can't hold back the time'

A hardened heart is a helpless thing
That beats no tune for love to sing
the bird of time is on the wing
And you can't hold back the time

There's a young man drowning in a sea of fear
For death's black hood draws fearsome near
And no-one in the world is gonna shed a tear
Because you can't hold back the time

In his hooded eye, a flashing knife
swims up the red river of all his strife
That flows like time to the ocean of life
And you can't hold back the time
Track Name: Ophelia
Ophelia, bear with me - I'm not quite myself
I've run off all the edges, and ruined my health
My head is on backwards, controlled by the fist
Of some drunken, miserable ventriloquist
Ophelia, bear with me, I'm talking in rhyme
I know that you think about me all the time
So how's it all going, it's a long time no see
Y'know, I'm just as glad as a sane man could be

Ophelia, bear with me, I'm grasping for pennies
This phone box is spinning and I can't find the words

Ophelia, forgive me, I'm riddled with shame
Since you last knew me I've not been the same
I drink when I'm lonesome, I laugh when I'm sad
Please talk to my mother, she thinks I've gone mad
Ophelia, forgive me, I've blinded my eyes
To the whetstone of love that has sharpened these lies
But I kept all your tears, and they focus my sight
When I cry them all back to myself in the night

Ophelia, forgive me, I'm grasping for memories
My mind is on fire and you are the only one

Ophelia, release me, I'm starting to fade
& soon I'll collapse in a crumpled cascade
I know that it's late now, I hope you're awake
I hope I've not taken up all of your tape
Ophelia, release me, I've injured my soul
In a childish attempt to relinquish control
I thought we'd have all of the time in the world
I guess I'm just no good for an innocent girl

Ophelia, forgive me, I'm trying to speak out
For all us poor bastards who've got it all wrong
Ophelia, release me, I've run out of pennies
My mind is on fire and now I must be gone
Track Name: The Trickster
I charmed your little heart out with my silver forked tongue
Rung a peal of laughter from your brass bell lungs
Wrote a tall tale on your skin with my little fingertips
And then I pulled you in close, and kissed a lie upon your lips

'Cause I'm the Trickster
I'm the conman of love
I sing my sweet, sweet swindles like a clockwork turtle dove
And you're just hte kind of sucker I surely love to see
and I tricked you into loving me

Deceitfully I double-crossed your dress off to the floor
And I fooled you into feeling things you ain't never felt before
Such is my devotion to this fraudulent art
I'd spend my whole life hustling you the hoax of my heart

'Cause I'm the trickster
ANd that's all that I am
See, I done hoodwinked you into making me your man
All the time we've been together, can't you see?
I tricked you into loving me

All them songs I wrote you were just double-talk and din
And I built a home for you just to come and hate me in
All the time you spent berating me was just part of my little game
To think I almost tricked you into taking my name

Ah, what a Trickster
what a sharp shark I must be
to sting my only sweetheart into never trusting me
Whe you called me a liar, you know it cut me to the bone
I suppose you think I tricked you into leaving me here all alone
Oh, what a Trickster
Track Name: Blood In My Shoes
Beneath her gleam she's ghostly
As she trawls the crowded rooms
She's searching for her baby
Beneath those crystal moons
She might as well be naked
Though her come-on's just a ruse
There are diamonds on her fingers
And there's Blood in her Shoes

Please walk away more slowly
So I can watch your back
I've gazed at it so closely
Eyes brimming with love's lack
I'm just thinking of your future
I guess I'll hear it on the news
My heart is in my pocket
And there's Blood in my Shoes

We could sit here talking
Until the air turns white
The whiskey built our bridges
But we burned them in the light
I promised in the bedroom
I would seek my purpose true
Like a vagabond I'm walking
With Blood in my Shoes

The singer's voice cracks open
To reveal the song within
To break a sacred promise
Is the one and only sin
The strings have torn his fingers
Every night he bleeds in blues
In your head the music lingers
If there's Blood in your Shoes
Track Name: Colours
Everything is running out
It's all in short supply
Life is like a speeding train
Screaming as it thunders by

It'll never pass through here again
The tracks are rusting 'neath the weeds
And you're standing on the platform
Watching the Colours bleed

I swear there used to be more stars
In the night's black sequined dress
I swear there used to be more warmth
In the summer wind's caress

Now its touch is false and fleeting
Like a lover's who is leaving
The dead dream of a frozen seed
Watching the Colours bleed

I've tried, you know, I've tried
To stem the bloody tide
I tore a torniquet out of my skin

I cupped my desperate hand up to the masterpiece's wound
But time is running out
Nothing in the world
Can hold it in

And if I was a master painter
My dream would make the canvas whole
I'd saturate the fading light through
The stained glass windows of my soul

The patient breath of restoration -
The breath of life in imitation -
The holy word, the artist's creed
In thought, and word, and deed
Don't let the Colours bleed
Don't let the Colours bleed
Don't let the Colours bleed
Track Name: All At Once
All at once i saw you
in a little Yurkish bar
Discreetly I discovered you
Across the samovar
& What strange world revolves, I wondered,
'neath this gilded brow?
& On what wings shall I explore its shining lands, and how?
A thought flew through the mind, and nothing more
But all at once, All at Once
I saw you through the shyness that you wore
All at Once, I saw you
Like a ship, a ship that sees the shore

All at once I Saw you
on a fiery hallowe'en
The moon caused me to howl for you
when I told it what I'd seen
we sumoned up the spirits,
I can't remember whose
we poured them out upon the earth and raised them to the blues
we sang into the night, our voices soared
& all at once, all at once
you flew into the vaccuum I abhorred
all at once I saw you
like the void
the void that hears the word

Softly close your searching eyes,
& I will stay with you awhile
in lonesome black, & jealous green
So many spend their lives unloved, unseen

all at once i saw you
in the mirror of my skin
its purpose, a perfect surface
to reflect your body in
the outline of your solitude, the colour of your heart
no other mirror can describe your beauty's truest part
the note that sings out silent in the night
all at once, all at once
my blurry life was focused sharp & bright
when all at once, I saw you
in the flesh
in the flesh and in the light
Track Name: Apocalypse Blues
It creeps through the streets with a whipster of fear
It may be tomorrow, it may be next year
Is your business in order, have you made your amends,
Is there somebody's body you'll be clutching at the end?

The ocean may rise up and sweep us away
Or we'll all burst ablaze on a bright sunny day
That silicone weather girl said on the news
'The wind tonight sings the Apocalypse Blues'

That big ol' red button is coming down fast
Cancel the future, seal over the past
The present's a gift, so get ready to go
We're all gonna dance in the nuclear glow

The world's a showgirl, pirhouetting from grace
Oh, give me the chaos of laughter and lace
All souls climb aboard for the abyssal cruise
The jazz band is playing Apocalypse Blues

The cruise singer croons the Apocalypse...

Raise up your glass, and say a fond farewell
Salvation, kiss my ass
I'll see you all in hell

Ain't no sweet chariot swingin' low for me
No angel would lend me her wings
So get wild & holy, get bad as can be
Let's do some old testament things

Who'll sue for clemency, and who will repent?
Who'll wail at the heavens, their garments all rent?
Not me, I'll be lost in a sulphurous mist
With your sweat on my face, and your skirt in my fist

I won't ask forgiveness, I wil not confess
I will not be judged by a man in a dress
I'll sing my own gospel in rhythm 'n' lose
and get down and dance the Apocalypse Blues
Get down and dance the Apocalypse Blues
Get down and dance the Apocalypse Blues