In 2019 I wrote more songs than I've ever written in a single year before - I wrote 24 brand new songs, I finished 6 songs that I'd started writing the year before, and I started writing an additional 10 songs that I've yet to finish. While it's wonderful when you're on a creative hot-streak, the downside is you end up with an ever-increasing backlog of songs that will remain unheard until you somehow find the time and means to record them. This inspired me to start a new project called 'The Voice Memo Demos', which is exactly what it sounds like - voice memos recorded on my phone of me performing songs in a single take with just a guitar or a piano. No overdubs, no effects, just a voice and an instrument, recorded raw and live.
It's a little bit of a daunting project as (a) I'm not hugely confident performing live (I've always been a recording artist, first and foremost), (b) as you can tell from my studio recordings I love creating rich and layered arrangements for my songs, and (c) while I wrote most of these songs on guitar, it's not my main instrument. Still, hopefully what these demos will demonstrate what I always strive for when I write - to create memorable songs with a strong melodies.
A World Without You
I wrote this song as part of a 10 Minute Songwriting Challenge that I set myself after seeing the 'Yesterday', a Danny Boyle/Richard Curtis film about a songwriter who, after a mysterious world-wide blackout, becomes the only person in the world who remembers the Beatles and their music.
There's a scene in the film where Ed Sheehan challenges Jack, the main character, to see who can write the best song in 10 minutes – that sounded like a fun challenge, so I decided to try it! I recorded the process and you can watch the videos on the Behind-The-Scenes section of the Videos tab above (technically I failed the challenge as the song ended up taking me 20 minutes to write, but that's still not bad!) I'm proud of the song, and I think it's a fitting tribute to what I will always consider to be the greatest band of all time, and their legacy.
This is a little lullaby I wrote to play for my son when he was still in the womb - my hope was if I played it often enough, he would recognise it when he was born and find it comforting. As it turned out he's a very well-behaved baby and didn't really need the song to calm him down!
Years ago I attended the wedding of a couple who I met at university - we drifted apart but they're still friends of mine on Facebook. Unfortunately they have since split up - I don't know the reasons behind it, but this song was inspired by the sad statuses they occasionally post about how hard it is to re-enter the dating world in your thirties.
It's Raining Up There
A simple song inspired by a time when I was driving and saw heavy rainfall in the distance. It's a sad fact of life that misfortune, like rain, is inevitable, which makes it all the more important to appreciate the sunny (fortunate) times while we're experiencing them.
The World Through A Mirror
Although it shares the same name, this song has nothing to do with my debut album. This song was written when the Black Lives Matter movement was at its peak in the summer of 2020. It's about re-evaluating old ways of thinking and realising we all have the potential to bring about positive change in the world
It used to be a habit that I would pick up my guitar and play around while my wife took her evening shower, and this song was written during one of those times. It's about how you can think and feel that you're done for the day, but creativity can still strike. This song was written before our son was born, so the 'little one' referred to in the lyrics is our old hamster Sephy!
Soundtrack To A Soap
While it's true that nearly all songwriters draw on their own personal experiences for inspiration when writing lyrics, I've noticed that some of the biggest artists in the world tend to base their songs on their very specific experiences. This can sometimes make their songs harder to relate to, and it can end up feeling like you're listening to a soap opera that's all about them - that's what this song is about.
This song was inspired by a man who came into the shop where I work, singing and playing a guitar. He was told to leave, and a colleague later informed me his name was Jimmy and that he was already banned from the shop for doing this once before. This gave me the song's title ('Jimmy's Band') and the starting point for the lyrics, which describe a more sympathetic character who has dreams of being a successful musician, despite the lack of interest from anyone who hears him play. As you may be able to tell from the opening line, 'Obla-Di-Obla-Da' by The Beatles was an inspiration for the tune.