Three years on from her acclaimed debut album, 2012’s Like I Used To, Lucy Rose has returned with her Top 10 second long-player, Work It Out. A year in the making, the album finds the Warwickshire songstress, famed for her collaborations with Bombay Music Club, plus Peace, Ghostpoet and Manic Street Preachers, moving in a new direction as the ‘folkie/ indie’ sound of yore expands to embrace a broader, pop sensibility.
Prior to a rare ‘home town’ gig at Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, on Friday 13 November 2015 (“I feel like a bloody nervous wreck,” she cries at the mention of the show), she chats to BrumNotes about her recent European dates, songs and change.
Your debut was written and recorded at home, away from the spotlight, but the process of making this second album must have been very different …
Most of the songs from the first record were written when there was nobody listening. But I was travelling and seeing so many places and playing music every night. I was constantly exploring, taking stuff in. It’s all filtered into the new record.
The first taster of new material was Cover Up (released back in summer 2014), which seemed to anger some fans for being too different to your earlier stuff. Did you read the comments on social media?
Someone said my record company had badly misadvised me! I know not everyone is pleased when you change, but my favourite musicians, like Joni Mitchell, changed things up all the time. I want people to know that this [new album] is fully from me. I wanted to evolve, I wanted to keep things exciting. I don’t want to make the same music over and over. And I’m hardly rapping. It’s 100 per cent me, you’ll recognise that I promise.
You’d previously said that Cover Up was something of a one-off, but in context of the album, it fits perfectly; it’s a solid collection, it sounds complete.
Thank you! All the songs were written by me, played by me and the same musicians and recorded by the same producer [Rich Cooper], there wasn’t loads of different co-writers or musicians or producers and studios like some others do. I had the same pocket of people working on all the tracks and that gives all the tracks that completeness.
I understand that your label did try to pair with other songwriters, but you declined – why?
I can’t just meet someone, give them a high-five, and say ‘let’s write a pop hit!’ I write music selfishly for me and that’s what I genuinely love doing. It’s my song, not someone else’s.
When you were planning the track listing at the beginning of the year, and had loads of songs recorded, you told BrumNotes that it reflected where you were at the time and where you were going, musically speaking – how do you view the album now it’s sequenced and out there?
I change my mind every day [laughs]. I guess I saw it as a brave move, the acoustic guitar doesn’t feature as much as on the first record, so that worried me. But weirdly, now, it feels like a coherent set when we play the songs [from both albums] live together, it makes sense. I had a collection of songs that represented a certain time of my life, and those became the first record; this second album is also a very clear representation of me at that point in time too. Now, I’m moving onto a … not ‘new me’, but I have had new experiences in life, I have new views, new ideas of the world. What is important to you changes as you mature. Work It Out is a very clear representation of who I was at that time, and to an extent of who I still am, but I am on the verge …
What are some of the album’s highlights for you?
Our Eyes is one of the first songs where I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone and tried to write something different from songs I’ve written before. The song is about when someone has done something that has annoyed or upset you, but as soon as your eyes meet you can’t help but smile and forget about it all and make up.
You spent September 2015 playing in Europe – how were the shows?
It was scary, wondering where the big cheers would be in the set. Would they be just for the songs off the first record? There was a lot of new stuff in the set and people were singing along, which was just really comforting I guess, and he whole tour was like that. But before you start, you never know how it’ll go or how people’ll react. You over think things so get reassurance at a gig. Gigs are just the best things. I need to stop worrying. I’m really really fortunate that people want to sing my songs with me, to come and see me play. I am so lucky to be able to do this, so lucky.
Any favourite shows?
Brussels and Amsterdam are always great but they sold out as well. I’m not sure how people found out about me. I’m not a mainstream mass pop artist who everyone wants to write about, so most people seem to discover me themselves or friends tell them about me, or they just find something on the internet. That shows how amazing it can be, people get into it organically. Brussels and Amsterdam selling out felt like a real achievement, we did 12-16 shows in Germany, in Heidelberg, Potsdam, Münster, we got to go to a lot of different places that perhaps not many other people tour to very often.
Has the creativity you eventually experienced making Work It Out continued? Are you still writing?
This has been one of the most creative times of my life. I’ve already written a new bunch [so songs] … I might play them live. The litmus test.
* Lucy Rose plays Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, on Friday 13 November 2015. Support Flyte and C Duncan. Tickets £16 from www.warwickartscentre.co.uk