About Leap and the tracks…
LEAP is about transformation. I was seeing big changes and new beginnings everywhere I looked. Time to acknowledge things broken and to ask how you get by when you can’t fix everything, when the confidence and certainty has evaporated. What do you wear when the old clothes don’t fit? And why are scales, feathers, armour, wings and fins so attractive?
Many good friends marriages had ended- usually leaving sticky, unresolved darkness in their wake. I wanted to celebrate the courage you need to transform yourself through cold fire. The central character has given everything and her partner has laid waste to it all- yet she is able to change her shape and begin again. I used to love the film ‘She’ starring Ursula Andress. I was fascinated and terrified by the idea that you could step into the fire and be transformed. In this case it was the vanity of immortality which drove her- what if it was just survival?
Men can often take a long time to need permanence, seeing commitment as a restraint harness to be avoided. At the start, the main character is devoted to a man who runs through her like a river, despite his own fickle nature. Undeserving, he continues to play to the gallery , growing ever more insubstantial as the song progresses. By the end he is ‘so light he could float away’. I wanted to get her to a point where she has to conclude “What use is a shivering man?” and walks away.
ARMOUR OF LOVE
Our first Gospel song. Initially I wrote the lyric for our local, very musical Church of England school for which we’d had the privilege of writing a few songs. The Head wanted something that would support ideas of friendship and loneliness .Whilst I hadn’t yet read Ephesians 6, I loved the idea of God’s love and protection being armour you could wear.
My favourite section is the middle 8 where I try and deliver the armour and amoure pun with as much urgency as I can. Next step is to arrange it for the school choir and the church gospel choir with whom I sing. It’s been an unexpected pleasure to write original songs for school children. Another song ‘Pollen’ which I wrote for the school to promote awareness of Africa’s needs, found it’s way to South Africa where a local family taught it to the schoolchildren there
I was unprepared for the tidal wave of emotions that accompanies becoming a parent. I didn’t think it was possible to love anything that much or that I would become so fearful and fearless in defending them. I’m also aware that such love can be seen as faintly embarrassing, ridiculous or even mad to a teenager for whom cool detachment is all.
I walk our dog round an ancient Anglo Saxon camp where parliaments of crows are constantly circling, diving and cawing. Ever the optimist, dog bounds towards them only to be defeated as they flap their wings and fly off.
One day I saw myself as one of those birds batting off the problems, (a sort of feathered Boadicea), I listened and learned all the different caws, much to the confusion of fellow walkers. When it came to recording the middle 8, I didn’t tell Dave my plans and it was a blast to see his shoulders shaking as he tried to still the giggles.
Incidentally dog is present throughout. She usually finds her away into a guitar case or onto the piano stool or bizarrely (or maybe not when you consider what she has to witness) she gets herself under the studio desks and behind the computer. She seems to accept everything easily although the wild ululations, grunts and groans get the old ears flapping from time to time.
DO WHAT YOU GOTTA DO
I’ve loved Nina Simone since I was 8. My Parents had her single “Ain’t got no, I got life” which became something of an anthem for me when I was seriously ill in hospital. ‘Do What you Gotta Do’ was the B side. We are both huge fans of Jimmy Webb’s song-writing but had never wanted to cover anyone else’ work before. It was when we were driving through California that I had the idea for this stripped back, laid- bare version. I wanted it to feel understated and intimate- as if she was just stood at the window, watching him leave.
It’s such an honest lyric. Being a ‘high-maintenance’ type myself, I can identify with the ‘It might be hard, to love a girl like me’…..
Sometimes, you have to freeze yourself numb to mend. Cryogenics for the heart. It’s a song about the survival instinct we all have.
We went to Alaska and when we sailed into Glacier Bay, the ranger quite unexpectedly sang a love song to the area written by naturalist John Muir when he discovered the place. We had never seen such overwhelming natural beauty and extraordinary colours. Seeing the salmon run and the wild bears roam brought home to me how natural laws dominate outside our little squares of city superiority. I thought it would be great setting for a song, a healing place.
I’ve always been frightened of ghosts. It’s my second best fear after not being loved.
This is about someone who let me down. The idealised version of them disappeared, leaving me to hold on to just the memory of what they had been.
LAST FISH IN THE SEA
I like fables where fantasy and reality happily sit together. I also get fed up with disbelief. Science wants it all its own way.
Here a woman is abandoned, set out to sea by an indifferent lover. The elements take pity on her, so instead of allowing her to die, they re-create her into a new unique thing.
This is one of those barking mad second halves where we shamelessly break the rules and go off on one. I have a picture in my head and a destination and we work hard to make the music realise it.
This title track is all about risk. You spend a lifetime getting stuff, filling your time, your lives, your minds with clutter. This is about re-tracing your steps, letting go of the props and jumping off before you drown.
Most people have a park in their town when they are growing up-where all life happens, everyone is equal and you can be anything you want to be. Scaur Bank is mine. By its side, the river Wharfe snakes its way to the dramatic weir in the town centre. It’s where I had my first kiss, my first cigarette. It’s where I ran away to, where I let off steam after exams during lazy hot summers-. But at night it became a gothic stretch of strange noises and black corners giving licence to become a darker version of yourself- anything could and did happen. This is my take on the most extreme of happenings. And as a listener, I hope you end up somewhere very different from where you started.
It gave us another chance to have some fun and make a music movie.
THIS IS THE CITY
We wrote this groove with our music soul brother Simon Welander, a few years ago. We loved the idea of the offbeat bass and counter guitar riff- but it was always lacking a chorus- big challenge to find the right match- think I wrote 4 different ones in all. Finally it seemed apt to give it a ‘euro dance’ feel since it’s song about displaced Europeans finding a new home. I wanted to express the conflicting emotions you live with. Happiness, gratitude, regret and yearning for all you have left behind.
A WHINE AND A WHISTLE
Based on a true experience, it’s about the moment of departure from this world to the next and my hope for what that will feel like. It’s about celebrating the person you have been and the mark you leave.