My new album is due to be released on the 28th August 2020. I was really keen for the liner notes to fill the back of the LP sleeve. I was inspired by old Blue Note reord sleeves and the bizarre sleeve notes Leo Kottke wrote. Here for better or worse is what has been sent to the printers
A friend had suggested these songs follow ‘hot on the heels’ of an album I released back in 2013. This hilarious yet wounding remark led to the ‘tepid’ of the title. With the exception of Rolling of the Stones which is traditional and The Three Ravens which is arranged by John Harle, these songs were written over the last seven years, half of them within this last year (what can I say? I got better at it.) The trippin’ is reference to my continuing exploration of self sabotage as an artistic medium and my choosing to procrastinate despite myself. It also echoes something of the musical genres to which I would wish my music to belong. My success or failure I leave to your judgement.
Fond and Fancy, though the first song on the album, it was the last song I wrote and recorded. Its happy sincerity is the only thing that excuses the excess of cliches. I mean every word.
One of the oldest songs (though not quite) is Devil’s Fountain which tells the story of life post divorce in a fairytale landscape. The characters suffering as much or as little as they choose to.
I wrote Cabbage White while thinking there is little so intimidating as a large sheet of blank paper, nothing so overwhelming as a project not yet begun. You can purchase off-white sketchbooks for the squeamish sketcher, is the musical equivalent writing a song to the sound of a car engine or tv static?
He Wren is a collected list of uncomfortable scenarios, thankfully not all my own.
John Harle’s The Three Ravens was used on Schama’s ‘History of Britain’. I had never heard anything so beautiful. In a moment of delusion I have attempted to recreate it with a 1970’s Japanese Zenta guitar, a psaltery that is likely a 1970’s school woodwork project and a toy xylophone. My success or failure I leave to your judgement.
The Blaggard Blackbird is a day in the life of a worm. The bird sounds in the opening bars are from an old bird song vinyl. I estimate that bird was dead several years before I was born. I am no expert but if I had to guess, I believe that bird was singing for his worm supper.
Neither Lonely and We Could Be Strangers are two sides of the same coin. The first tells the joys of mature and responsible life choices played out on an ‘Alice through the looking glass’ chess board where there are no losers so everybody wins. The second asks ‘why then, do I feel so awful about it?’ This was the first song I recorded and mixed myself. To open the project files now is like looking into a chaotic abyss.
Rolling of the Stones is a variant of the folk song ‘The Two Brothers’.
I wrote For a While on hearing about the death of one of Cambridge’s best folk singers and a dear friend. It was a pleasure and a privilege to have sung with him. I know that this ends the album on a very sad note, and I am sorry, but the first song is cheerful so stick it on again!
I am (if you can believe it) no better at delivering banter between songs at gigs than I am at writing sleeve notes. I am always surprised by musicians and singers who will dissect a song lyric by lyric, even revealing a punch line before singing a song. I think over explanation can ruin a song and would say as much to excuse myself from talking. It has, however, been a pleasure to write about these songs which mean so much to me.
Writing, recording and performing these songs has brought me a lot of joy. It has ever been my goal that these songs would bring you joy too. My success or failure I leave to your judgement…
Much love & thanks, Naomi
TEPID ON MY TRIPPIN’ HEELS will be available on the 4th of Sept 2020