Thursday, 18 April 2013 00:00

Lisa Redford

Written by  Simon Alcock
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Lisa Redford

Lisa Redford is widely proclaimed as one of the nation's finest singer/songwriters. Her three albums to date, 'Slipstream', 'Lost Again' and 'Clouds With Silver', as well as her live album recorded at Norwich Arts Centre,  have seen her evolve from her Norfolk upbringing to mixing it with some of New York's most respected musicians. Lisa has a new EP, 'Reminders' for sale and is playing a special homecoming show at The Bicycle Shop on St Benedict's Street. Allthingsnorfolk caught up with her over a coffee at the aforementioned venue a few days ahead of the gig to discuss her latest release and delve into the origins of her music.

'Reminders' was recorded in Brooklyn with producer Jeff Hill who has a plethora of notable names on his CV. Lisa takes up the tale of how they first met at the Norwich Arts Centre "Jeff was here playing in Teddy Thompson's band, I was on the guest list, we got talking at the end and he mentioned something about having a studio. He's played with a lot of bands and with songwriters that I really like and have the kind of career that I'd like to have. I knew he was a really good guy and incredibly talented and we just seemed to click".

The title track 'Reminders' is a melancholic reflection of how certain things seem to evoke memories of events past. It's a simple sounding song which focuses on Redford's voice and acoustic guitar, augmented by delicate infusions of piano and cello. Second track 'Summer on the L' is a deceptive beast. At first listen it sounds like the perfect summery pop song, full of mentions of New York residents living together in harmony, but the lyrics reveal another side. "You keep the loneliness at bay, by running round and round all day, memories from another world that you left behind, just distract the mind" tell of Redford inwardly questioning the determined pursuit of her stateside career because of recollections of her Norwich roots.

Similarly, track three  'Dreaming in Crowds' is about pursuing a dream regardless of circumstances and starts with an verse redolent of the scene-setting eloquence of Squeeze's 'Labelled With Love'; "You put your keys on the table and huddle up by the stove, The radio is your company, you never felt so alone, So feed the cats and just go to bed, On borrowed sheets and borrowed time, Hoping tomorrow you'll find a way, Heaven knows you've tried".

Final track 'So many words' is a multi-layered concoction which started its creation with a single line and builds layer upon layer of melody to create another beautifully-crafted, reflective piece.

I asked Lisa about the creative process behind the tracks. We started with 'Dreaming In Crowds' and I asked whether the first verse was based on a real situation. "Its an exact tale of one night that actually happened. I was staying in an apartment in Brooklyn and it was turning cold, we were having problems with the heating. It came at a time when I was ready to pop home, its about the whole struggle of me trying to do my music, chasing my dream. I got in, put my keys on the table and it was so cold, I began to think 'This could be a good story for a song'.

Lisa mentioned that Josh Rouse's 'Nashville' was an influence for 'Summer on the L'. "The music is so lush and pretty, but there are two things working and that's something I wanted to create. It was summer, I was watching everyone, but its also about how I was running around trying to make things happen". I commented that it sounds like a happy piece of pop, but if you take the lyrics in isolation, it sounds like a completely different song. "That's the sort of thing that I like. The Smiths were one of my favourites. Their music was very melodic but their lyrics were very dark."

We talked more about influences and Lisa went on to express her admiration for acts you probably wouldn't associate with such as New Order and The Cure. From the sparse production of 'Slipstream' through the country twang of 'Lost Again' to the widened horizons of 'Clouds With Silver', Lisa's music covers a number of bases.

Earlier in the conversation Lisa mentioned that the decision to release an EP rather than a full-blown album was in part influenced by her status as an independent artist and that when she is able to record, she is on a limited budget. I wondered what she would do if she had unlimited funds and there was an agreement between all the world's musicians that, if requested, they would work for her. "To be honest, the money would just afford me the luxury of more time. I'd like to get in musicians that I really liked, such as Kings of Convenience or Josh Rouse. I'd like to have a band, but just not full-on. It would be nice to have someone else to play guitar and do some harmonies to fill it out a little bit"

As the streetlights came on, city pavements experienced increased footfall and the bell on the door of The Bicycle Shop rang with increased regularity, our conversation wound towards its end. To a degree, I was excited about meeting Lisa Redford   because I am Norwich born and bred and I loved the idea of speaking to someone who came from a similar area and whose influence has spread overseas. In a lot of ways that is a deeply patronising view, as she is not only the possessor of a versatile, crystal-clear voice, an insightful lyricist, but is also an incredibly focussed individual determined to make the most of any crumbs of opportunity that fall her way.

'Reminders' is available now, for more details please visit www.lisaredford.com

Last modified on Wednesday, 02 January 2019 19:14

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