MAKING OF - PART 1
This video covers the writing and recording of 'Wonderkid', 'You Knew' and 'I Hate Thursdays'.
MAKING OF - PART 2
This video covers the writing and recording of 'Alone With You', 'Glass World' and 'Daybreak'.
MAKING OF - PART 3
This video covers the writing and recording of 'The Awaiting Game', 'Same Time Tomorrow Night' and 'Don't Worry About It'.
MAKING OF - PART 4
This video covers the writing and recording of 'I Can't Wait To Meet You', 'Sleep' and 'Lying To Myself'.
MAKING OF - PART 5
This video covers the writing and recording of 'Down Days', 'Change' and 'All Turned Around".
Right after I finished recording "Pair Shaped", I went straight back into the studio to begin work on my first full-length album "The World Through A Mirror", which was recorded between January and December of 2011. It was a much bigger undertaking than "Pair Shaped", which had only 7 tracks - I ended up recording 15 songs, including "I Hate Thursdays" (a free giveaway song), "Same Time Tomorrow Night" (the B-side for the album's first single) as well as the 13 album tracks.
Like "Pair Shaped", the album was produced by Joe Lonsdale and was recorded at Joe Public Studios, and I made several 'making-of' videos about the recording process, which you can see below. The main difference about the songs on this album is they were written over a period of 10 years or more, whereas the songs on "Pair Shaped" were much more recently written. Joe and I tried to give each of the song on the album its own unique sound, and the result is, I think, a very eclectic album. If there is a uniting theme for the album, it's one of self-reflection - looking at the world from an isolated place and finding the confidence to go out and experience it.
The opening track of the album is mostly an instrumental (there are a few lyrics in the middle section, but that's it), and Joe and I really tried to make it structurally and sonically interesting. We've used an unusual selection of instruments for it - there is a string quartet, some U2-sytle guitars, and a cool combination of bells and synthesizers for the main riff.
2. Don't Worry About It
This song was the first single off the album, and it's a really positive, feel-good crowd-pleaser about going with the flow and not taking life too seriously. The arrangement we've gone for is that of an acoustic unplugged band (it's one of only three songs on the album with no electric guitar), and it's great one to sing and play along to - particularly the piano solo!
3. I Can't Wait To Meet You
One of the simplest songs on the album, and I think the sound we've gone for (which I like to call 'subtly epic'!) works beautifully. There were originally a few more instruments/parts on the track, but we felt that having an understated arrangement made the beauty of the song shine through more. It's about a wish to meet (or reuinte with) someone special - yes, it's gooey and romantic, but it's also heartfelt!
The oldest song on the album - I wrote the origial melody when I was 11! Like with most of my songs, the lyrics came much later (in this case they were inspired by a recent 'trip' to Amsterdam!) It's a song of two halves - the first half has a dreamy, lullaby-like quality, whereas the second half is a full-on blistering guitar solo with everything but the kitchen sink thrown in (trumpets, strings, angel choirs, you name it!) It's the song that shows off Joe's considerable guitar skills the best.
5. Alone With You
I've never been a huge party person - I've always preferred being in the company of a few good friends to being in a room full of strangers, so this song is about seeking solitude and comfort with the right people / person. It's another unusually structured song, and we've echoed the hell out of it to give it that cool, spacey Pink Floyd feel.
6. Lying To Myself
This is a ballad about the moment you realise that you've been living in denial and things aren't working. Thisi was a song that was really 'found' in the mix. It was a tricky song to orchestrate, but I love the arrangement we've ended up with - particularly in the middle 8, where we've got cellos, flutes and a harpsicord all playing different intertwining melody lines.
'Wonderkid' was the first song we recorded for the album. It's quite a short song, which is fitting as it's about short-lived fame. I love the energy and the dark wit of this song, and I think it contains some of my best piano/organ playing.
8. Glass World
Like 'Don't Worry About It', this is a great sing-along guitar-and-piano pop tune about looking at things a little differently. If you had told me before we started recording this album that we would end up using bagpipes on one of the songs, I would have said you were crazy. But we did on this track - and they totally work! They give the last two choruses a very Scottish, ceremonial feel!
9. You Knew
This is one of the most personal songs I've ever done. It was written about a very sad time in my life (when I was going through some very painful teenage drama), and writing it was very theraputic. It's sometimes hard for me to isten to, but it's probably the song I've written that I'm most proud of. Like with 'I Can't Wait To Meet You', we've kept the arrangement simple and understated so as not to overwhelm the melody.
10. Down Days
Like 'You Knew', this is a song about finding beauty in sadness. It was inspired by a friend of mine who suffers from bipolar disorder, and it's about how helpless not being in control of your emotions can make you feel. I played some of the acoustic guitar on this track, but Joe did most of it, and it was his idea to include a theramin in the outro (it gives me goosebumps every time I hear it). You might say I'm piling it on by having the two saddest songs on the album right after each other, but I think this way it gives the album more of a narrative (and gets the sadness over with in one go!)
A big, belting rock ballad, in the tradition of the great hair metal bands of the 80s. I may not have a voice like some of those singers, but I give it my best (note the the three-part harmonies in the last chorus!) This was one of the last tracks we recorded for the album, and it turned to be one of my favourites. Ironically, Joe found the difficult guitar bits on this track really easy, and struggled with the 'simple' bits!
12. All Turned Around
This was the final song we recorded for the album, and it was a bit of a struggle to get it finished in time, but we did it! It finishes off the 'changing emotions trilogy' started by 'Down Days' and 'Change', and it ends with the same piano melody from the opening track 'Daybreak', giving a sense that album has come full circle. It reminds me of 'Crazy Like Me' from 'Pair Shaped', which has a similar piano/electric guitar/multiple harmonies arrangement.
13. The Awaiting Game
This sweet but confusingly-titled ballad has possibly my favourite arrangement of all the songs on the album - great guitar work from Joe (as ever), and I think my harmonies, particularly in the second half of the song, work really well. It's kind of a statement of how I feel about where I am in my life and my career right now. Rather fittingly, the song ends with Joe going "YEAH!", as if to say "We did it! We made a great album!"