I caught up with the delightful Amber Lawrence – ‘caught’ being the operative word, as she’s always on stage or on a plane – to talk about her fifth studio album, hot on the heels of her magical kids record that Luke O’Shea previewed in last issue of Country Update.
DT: Two albums in just three months? You work the most exhausting schedule, including a dizzying daily array of wardrobe changes, seem to be in six places at once…and still have time to post about it all on social media! Which is how I happen to know you’ve been sporting a damaged ‘wing’ strapped up in a sling as an accessory in recent weeks, so you’re also doing all this one-handed?
AL: It does seem that I’ve been overly industrious but as always, it’s a matter of timing. The Kid’s Gone Country album was written slowly over 12 months, but the new album Happy Ever After was largely written in a three week trip to Nashville. That trip shaped the sound of the album, then I finalised the writing of it with a few more songs in the early part of this year.
To be honest I wasn’t planning to be this ‘prolific’, but it was a quick conversation with Shane Nicholson whilst he was playing on my ‘kids’ album, where he suggested that I should record my next studio album sooner rather than later so as to make sure my core audience knew that my ‘kids gone country’ was a side project. So I said, Okay, and then asked if he’d like to produce it – he said Okay, and off we went to the studio!
DT: You famously write from a deeply personal base, very close to the heart and hearth, family etc? How has co-writing expanded your work?
AL: I’m much better at co-writing now – I’m able to be myself, throw my ideas into the mix without worrying if it’s too personal or what anybody thinks. I think this has allowed my sound to really evolve and mature on this 5th album – it’s actually quite funny, but certainly not deliberate that this album is a giant stride in maturity from Superheroes and 3 (even though I did a kids album in between) – I kind of think my earlier albums were written through the eyes of me as a 17 year old and how I would like to see life.. And now ‘Happy Ever After’ is written though my current view, and its life right here, right now. So in one year I’ve gone from writing kid’s songs, to the most grown up songs I’ve ever written – it’s quite a creative leap. I generally bring the ideas and the melody, but let the other co-writers help take the song somewhere I never would.
Happy Ever After is a collection of ideas about how life is not necessarily perfect, but the joy is being happy in the imperfection. Being happy in the day to day, and not postponing your happiness today for a future you may have created in your head. My personal life has been quite fruitful for a songwriter over the past eight years, with the loss of my Dad, and the breakdown of a long term relationship. So, emotionally there’s plenty of inspiration.
Read the rest in Issue 82…