Like A Woman: The Bold Voice Of Lucy Rose
“I am so conscious of having a well-rounded view on everything”, Lucy Rose tells Clash. “You have your own personal experiences and views, ‘that could just be me, is it the real world or what is it?’ and that is the hardest. I guess the reason why it happened is because I decided it wasn’t just me and I was angry about stuff. But I decided that I didn’t care anymore about whether it was wrong or right, it was just how I feel and that was very freeing.”
Lucy is talking about the making of ‘No Words Left’, her fourth studio album, the most career-defining, life-changing and ambitious record she has released. The Guardian gave it five stars and it topped The UK Record Store Chart. It is supported by a longform music video. Having spent time telling herself she doesn’t care about reviews, she is the first person to admit how immensely powerful they can be, with the point being, that they really do matter.
“I’ve been in training not to care for so long, now I’ve been given an opportunity to actually care because I feel some people have understood it and understood me. I’m re-training myself to enjoy the moment.”
“The thing about reviews is that they influence a lot of people, whether they are gonna give it a chance or not. That’s the most frustrating thing, if someone reviews it and doesn’t like your music. I am more than well aware that my music isn’t the sort that lots of people will like, I’m OK with that, but I find it difficult if the person, who reviews it, is one of those people.”
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Recalling moments when it feels like people don’t get her, don’t understand what she does is not hard. She deserves to immerse herself and enjoy the experience this time, perhaps even more so because ‘No Words Left’ is a striking and grandiose record.
“It’s been a lot of time in the making in my how head”, she says. “I do think there has been a part of me that has thought ‘one day I’d love to make a record like the one I’ve just made',” she enthuses, “even when I’ve been writing and making other ones but the songs haven’t been right, the arrangements wouldn’t have worked. I felt in order to make the sort of record I wanted, my song-writing had to be the very best it’s ever been.”
The collaboration with long-term producer and friend Tim Bidwell and the musicians really worked. Encouraging everyone to be comfortable and creative in the studio, she wanted it to be a free environment and she didn’t want anyone to feel silly when trying something that didn’t work.
“It was like ‘go far, go wide, try whatever and don’t feel any confines or parameters in terms of what you think I want or what you think will be nice because that might not be what I want’. I felt it was really liberating when everyone thought ‘that’s wicked, but it doesn’t work’. It is about making a record with great musicians, who understand how to communicate, that’s a big part of it, a big part of making a record.”
Working relations between Rose and Bidwell are better than ever, having formed a strong creative bond based on mutual respect “He is a really important person when it comes to my music”, she says, “he is good at seeing a way forward. He is good at making records that have been enjoyable and you are feeling valued amongst it. He is very comfortable for me to have lots of opinions.”
Plus the necessity and importance of allowing the musicians enough space and time to get settled is a priority, “I’ve learnt this from Tim, let musicians find their feet before opening a conversation about what you think of recording a guitar, let them have five or six run-throughs without saying a word and encourage them. It is important to be encouraging, and I think that is why we have got amazing takes from the brilliant musicians, it was just a really free-spirited experience.”
Recording references and influences are manifold but they might include albums such as Pink Floyd’s 'Dark Side of the Moon' and Michael Kiwanuka’s 'Love & Hate'. “I think his arrangements are amazing and interesting, the sort of choices of sound he goes for like having a phaser on the guitar etc. I had heard that of his record and wanted to experiment with it. When it came to strings I was thinking about some of Radiohead’s more unusual arrangements.”
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36 minutes long; Lucy’s mesmeric black and white music video is made to support ‘No Words Left’. It is representative of a labour-intensive period spent recording, editing and grading. A recent screening in Leicester Square aimed at fans followed.
“I came up with the idea”, she says, “I had a very clear vision in my head of a conversation of me sitting in the studio on a stool with the backlight. I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted and the concept. I wanted to try and film these eleven songs in two days, but still find people creative enough to actually do it. It was a bit of a miracle, with the edit and to go through all of it and the colour grading.”
Meanwhile, her approach to writing songs for the record is probably best described as ‘letting everything out’. “I wrote the album in a really unconscious way and when it came to thinking about the arrangements I just felt this was kind of the time to be brave with it and do what I wanted to make a record, it’s more like thinking I was good or brave enough to make a record like this.”
She refers to herself as ‘mentally in a different place’ and reckons it could have been a ‘Oh gosh, this is too much’ kind of reaction, had things been different. “I guess it was me hitting rock-bottom, you just don’t feel like it can get any worse”, she says quietly. “You just find yourself sitting there with a guitar and not thinking about much in a rational way and that’s why my songs are as open as they are. I just think if I was more conscious of what I was saying or singing about then I’d be one hundred percent terrified.”
She has watched a few Neil Young documentaries, and they support the approach. “He said something like ‘The music has to take you out, some people are not gonna understand it, but some will and they are the sort of people you can have in your life’. I guess I’m really lucky with the people I have in my life that do understand it.”
Due to embark on a UK/EU tour, the likelihood of playing in front of those people is high. It’s going to be big, just like the album. “It’s been weirdly simple, I was quite nervous about this one and how we were gonna re-do it live because of the strings but with the extra two string players it all came to life and that’s made the difference.”
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Words: Susan Hansen
'No Words Left' is out now. Catch Lucy Rose at the following shows:
9 London Union Chapel
10 Bristol St George’s
11 Cardiff The Gate
13 Manchester Stoller Hall
14 Dublin Liberty Hall
16 Leeds City Varieties
17 Glasgow St Luke’s
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