“These were incredibly personal songs that made me feel really vulnerable…” - hmv.com talks to Lucy Rose
Acclaimed singer-songwriter Lucy Rose returns today (March 22nd) with her fourth full-length effort No Words Left.
Rose first announced herself on Bombay Bicycle Club’s stripped back collection Flaws, providing the backing vocals and harmonies that electrified the album. She joined the band on tour and would remain a key collaborator until 2012 when she branched out on her own.
Four solo albums have followed, the poppy Like I Used To, the wonky electronica of Work It Out and the stripped back folk of 2017’s Something’s Changing. Her newest, No Words Left, is a continuation of the raw power of Something’s Changing. It lays the singer bare, both musically and lyrically.
The album is out now in hmv stores all over the UK and we spoke to Rose about making the album, why this is her most personal album to date and her plans to head to Malaysia...
Did you give yourself much of a break after finishing the touring for Something’s Changing? Or did you go straight in?
“I went straight into it. I finished touring, but I was already playing new songs by then anyway. I went home, had a month off, started writing a bit and I felt like I wanted to get to work quite quickly. I knew I needed to record these songs as soon as I could. I didn’t want to wait and potentially do it in a year’s time after I’d been playing them lots. I finished touring in May and I was recording in July.”
You worked with Tim Bidwell again, who did your last record. Did you consider working with anyone else?
“No. I feel like he understood me on a deeper level and as a mate. We’ve become friends and I felt like he wanted to work with me, for me. We’re very similar in how we work. This wasn’t just any record. These were incredibly personal songs that made me feel really vulnerable and I was very fragile when I wrote them. He was the only person who I could possibly record them with.”
Did you want to do anything differently from the way you worked on Something’s Changing?
“I did, actually. The one thing I felt really strongly about was that I didn’t want drums on the record. I felt like they’d be more authentic without a beat and that obviously made it a very different process. I also wanted to try more things and I wanted to be more anal about the sounds. We tried a million different mics and pedals for each song. I wanted to be really, really involved with everything. I got a guy called Matthew Kelly to do the strings and he was a massive influence on the record too.”
Last time you had a few guests, The Staves, Eleanor from Daughter and more, but this time it’s just you…
“It’s all about me! I think I did that last time and I wanted this to be different. The songs were too connected to me. None of them called out for anybody. It wouldn’t have added anything.”
What kind of album is it lyrically?
“This one is very different to every other one I’ve made. What I’ve done in the past, those are collections of songs, just a Best Of of whatever period it was written over. This was written in a short amount of time, over a couple of months and I felt like I was in a very different place by the end of it. Usually, I find myself thinking ‘Should I keep writing? Can I make the record better?’.”
“But I don’t see these songs like that. These songs are where I was mentally last summer and once I was out of that, I was out of that. This is my least conscious album. I’ve never totally lost myself. The voices that tell me to work harder or wonder if somebody will like the album were gone. This was expressing myself without thinking. I can’t remember writing a lot of these songs. I can’t look at these songs objectively, they were what had to come out.”
Is that where the title comes from?
“There were things I couldn’t express with words, which is why I’ve got those interludes. It’s saying what you can’t say.”
Was that always the album title? Was it easy to settle on?
“I find it really hard. It’s weird, somehow I see myself as the least creative person. I can only work when I’m not thinking, I see these bands with these long poetic titles and I just can’t do that. This was the phrase that resonated. But it was right at the end of the album recording.”
What kind of band have you got with you this time?
“I’ve just started rehearsing. I’ve never had so many musicians with me and it’s really exciting. I feel like I’ve never valued myself enough to have all the players I need, this time I’m going for it. I’ve got three string players and I’m giving the songs all the attention they need.”
You’ve got four records now, is it fun deciding what makes the cut for your live set?
“Don’t know if it’s fun, it’s interesting. I’m re-imagining a lot of the songs now for this new set-up. Matthew has written this new string arrangement for ‘Shiver’ and it’s the most beautiful thing. It’s brought it back to life for me. I know there are people who will be disappointed by what I don’t play, but these are the songs that are speaking to me.”
You’ve always prided yourself on going to lots of places on tour that artists don’t generally go, will you try and keep that going this time?
“I do travel far and wide and that’s part of who I am. I’m doing Mexico and Australia. On my last record, I did this thing called ‘Play My Home Town’ and it was an online vote and whoever got the most votes I said I’d go and play. The winner was this place called Kuching, which is in Malaysia. It’s amazing, I had no idea I had a strong fanbase in Malaysia, but I do and I’m going. This young boy put up posters for people to vote in all the internet cafes. So I’m excited to do it.”
Was that the thing you were hoping for from the competition? It wouldn’t be as exciting to go to Gateshead or Worcester…
“It would have been a lot easier financially! I don’t know what I was hoping for. This is a huge amount of effort and a long way to go. But it’s fascinating. I can get quite cynical quite quickly and things like this remind me not to be…”
Lucy Rose’s new album No Words Left is out now in hmv stores.