The Argotist Online
Wright is a singer songwriter from Liverpool who is gaining widespread acclaim
for her poignant voice, well-crafted songs and engaging performances accompanied
by her band. She has performed at many gigs throughout the UK, recently supporting
the Blind Boys of Alabama at the Liverpool Philharmonic, and being invited to
play at the International Songwriter's Festival in Denmark in May 2008.
poetic and starkly honest songs (beautiful yet laced with the occasional dark
and unsettling thread) draw listeners into personal stories of relationships,
journeys, times and places through sharp insight and lyrical wit, while poignant
melodies move hand in hand with a responsive, rootsy backdrop. She creates a
sound evocative of Suzanne Vega whilst charmingly resonant of traditional
English folk music.
2008 saw the release of her debut album Just Like He Said, which has been
well received by the local media.
Do you think of your lyrics as poetry?
Yes I do, I spend lots of time on lyrics for songs trying to get just the right
descriptions, phrases, metaphors etc, and in most cases I tend to think of the
lyrics being the main vehicle for carrying the intended meaning.
It’s certainly a little different when trying to put poetry across in a
song; there are more structural constraints and pressure to rhyme, but certainly
some of the most poetic things I have written were always intended to be a song.
Do you think it is important that songs rhyme and if so why?
Depends on the music really. But thinking about my own songs, rhyme seems to
“sit” better with time signatures and almost echoes the musical harmony.
It seems to “make sense” to the listener but maybe that’s just down
to cultural conditioning. Rhyme certainly makes lyrics more memorable but I
don’t think it should be a rule that a songwriter imposes on their work. I’d
like to think that finding the best words to express an emotion are more
important than simply finding a word that rhymes.
Do you think song lyrics must conform to recognised song structures such as
clear rhyming schemes, choruses, refrains, hooks and bridges or that songs can
also be like free verse?
I would love to feel that free when writing lyrics but it can be quite difficult
to break out of the “normal” ways of writing. If I was simply concerned with
making money then yes I think conforming to recognised structures is needed, but
I try to write as freely as possible. I don’t always use refrains and hooks
etc. I try to find the best way, structurally of presenting my thoughts/lyrics.
Sometimes that means coming back to a chorus again for emphasis, sometimes it
means using a bridge to introduce another “voice” to the song.
When you read poetry in school or elsewhere did you recognize any connection to
the music you enjoyed?
Yes, I like listening to folk music, I like the stories, I like the references
to nature, the earth, work. I think
this is also why I liked Seamus Heaney so much. I also used to love reading a guy called Alain Presencer. The
delicacy of his words sometimes reminds me of the songs of Suzanne Vega, one of
my favourite lyricists.
Was there anything about poetry in books that influenced your songwriting?
Yes, reading poetry gave me a real love and respect for the power of words on a
page. I could be moved so much at times. I think that’s why I try to make
lyrics as excellent as possible in my songs. They have power to comfort, heal,
challenge, inspire etc, etc!!
Why do you think songs are more popular with people than poetry is?
In short, poetry is harder work and we can be lazy. The lyrics in most popular
music are easy to understand and even if you don’t understand the lyrics, you
can still enjoy the song. Poetry, on the other hand is more difficult to get an
instant connection with. You need to be willing to engage your mind and
imagination and also need to be able to read. I think it’s increasingly seen
as an old fashioned pursuit that people automatically exclude themselves from
because they think they are not clever enough to enjoy it. There are also whole
subcultures and styles associated with genres of music and highly stylised icons
that attract people, particularly youth, to their music.
© Rachael Wright