Funny how certain words crop up time and time again.
Take Lawrence Arabia. New album ‘The Sparrow’ is almost tailor made for adjectives such as ‘mature’, ‘sparse’ or even ‘serious’.
Yet that isn’t to sum up ‘The Sparrow’ as just another singer-songwriter album. Rather, it’s another really rather good album from a songwriter who is rapidly coming into his own.
Real name James Milne, the New Zealand talent introduced himself with ‘Chant Darling’. Feeling lost amid the myriad options offered by digital production, Lawrence Arabia instead surrounded himself with barriers.
A wonderfully rich (there’s another buzz word!) album, ‘The Sparrow’ is out on July 16th. ClashMusic have grabbed the exclusive stream, with James Milne stepping in to provide track by track analysis.
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Written on the rooftop of the Red Lion in Hoxton Street, probably hummed to the chords of some misheard girl group song coming muffled from downstairs. The topic is pretty time-honoured and self-explanatory – the yearning small town youth on the cusp of a new adventure.
Lick Your Wounds
The kind of cod-Bach piano line was composed on a backstage piano at Birmingham Symphony Hall while playing in Connan Mockasin’s band. Originally it became attached to a song about someone winning a dangerous big wave surfing championship which sounded strangely like Phil Collins’ “Another Day In Paradise.” Unfortunately, that didn’t make the cut.
The Listening Times
When everyone’s still up talking meaningless, self-aggrandising bullshit at 6:30am, these are the Listening Times.
This is a pretty desolate track. I was trying to capture a sense of temporary hopelessness I’d felt one wintery twilight in my hometown of Christchurch a couple of years ago.
Kind of a sequel to “Travelling Shoes,” in that it’s musing about a return to Christchurch after a hypothetical nervous breakdown and the failure of my ambitions. I think for both songs I was influenced by the lyrics of the Beach Boys’ “That’s Not Me” – the idea of leaving and returning to your hometown. It’s got some pretty parochial/autobiographical references – the Bus Exchange, getting punched in High Street, my school ball. But I didn’t have to move back in with my mum.
Definitely an important song in defining the aesthetic of this album, it became the song whose atmosphere and arrangement I used most to guide the rest of the album. As a groove song, it owes a lot to the brilliant playing of Connan and Elroy Finn who played bass and drums on the album.
At a dinner I asked my friends for some subjects to write songs about the following day. One of them was the abandoned big wave surfing song and one was this, which came from Elroy’s suggestion of the idea of the “snake in the grass,” lurking in wait to bite your girlfriend.
Definitely one of my favourites in its perversity and shameless pretension! The horn arranger Toby Laing has a great delight in modernist pomposity and created something maddening and beautiful out of the idea of Schönberg or a Bauhaus band playing ragtime. His wife Amelia Handscomb is a wonderful photographer and this atmosphere ended up pervading the album cover and promo shots that she took.
More musings on the appropriate behaviour for aging rockers living in isolation in the South Pacific.
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‘The Sparrow’ is set to be released on July 16th.