NEW EP OUT JULY 24TH 2020
Though it’s sometimes tempting, I don’t like to explain the songs. I fear that what I think it means will adversely affect what it really means - which is to say, what it means to you. It's a somewhat precarious and intimate act of letting go. After a song has left my hands, cherished or ignored, it’s not mine anymore. I think I'm still trying to understand the real depth and underlying meaning of that fact.
I will say that, despite the Spanish references, Matador was mainly written between Rome and Berlin in 2017/18.
I had the initial idea of every verse being a one-liner - a joke, earnestly sung. I guess I failed in that, though a few found their way in, or created a certain play through all the lyrics, of which there were many. (I must have written 50 verses for Matador, which is a song of 5 verses and few words). Humour can of course be profound but perhaps its occasional absence left space for the other things that it became, and is, which I leave to your interpretation.
I can say I like the way the lyrics seem to shift the music from a major to minor feeling, celebration and lament, depending. I feel like that is some sort of progress in my work.
I can say that I wrote Matador with a circling acoustic guitar part that I couldn’t master with any fluency (though a modified form of it remains). I had a piano in mind from quite early in the recording process, but more as an accompaniment to the guitar than the other way around - which is how it eventually panned out.
I’m very grateful to Ben (Osborn) who did much to shape the arrangement of the song with his lovely piano and synth work - and by extension the folk at Donau 115 and Cafe Rita for use of their pianos during lockdown. His work really helped me see the end of the song, so to speak, and he made it instantly a richer and more layered thing. I would recommend you go check out his debut LP - Letters from The Border (Nonostar).
Thanks also to my friend Oras, who can play clarinet like a demon but who consented to being an understated devil in the service of this one.
Oh, I shot the cover photograph in Wales last year. It's a photo of my nieces and nephew. Perhaps the only connection between image and song is that it seems to me to have the same play of dark and light, major and minor.
Finally an apology to my Spanish friends. I do realise my pronunciation of matador is waaay off. No disrespect intended. My Spanish is poor but in this instance it was a very conscious choice. Simply put, it’s an English text, I Anglicised.
I'll be happy to try a Spanish version when I return because that 'when' will no longer be an 'if'. I’ll be so happy to travel again in the service of my songs. I’ll be happy to be amongst you, to sing in your presence and it will be for once more joyful than shameful, to mispronounce your words. Like all of us, I'm waiting and hoping for that.