Singer-songwriter and ‘Gypsy Scotsman’ Colin Lillie need not worry about the curse of the second album.
Shades Of Love, out today is an assured and confident record, one that is full of heart, life, and honest, compelling songwriting. In essence, it’s what we’ve come to expect from Lillie; but equally it also displays an admirable sense of exploration and creativity, with Lillie and his producer Jamie Trevaskis exploring new sounds and styles – to great effect.
To celebrate the album’s release Lillie is on hand to lead us through the soul and backstories of the album’s eleven tracks. There’s no-one better to introduce the album, than the creator himself, so over to Colin:
They say that the process of writing your second album is such a different creative experience than that of the first.
Glass Homes was such a purge and release of emotions and stories. I wanted this album to show some growth and maturity. I may have been around the sun a few times, but as a musician and songwriter I am somewhat still young in years compared to those I look to and admire. And, I still have a lot to prove to myself creatively.
It’s taken this album almost four years to come to life; from the red dirt of Central Australia meeting with Jamie Travaskis (producer) to Enco Le Mura (Bass) and Ben Canstenns (Drums) coming together in the studio and recording the first note on Jamie’s stunning tape analog system at Wild Mountain Sound Studio in Mount Nibo, Brisbane.
In that time I have co wrote with the genius that is Rohin Jones (The Middle East) and even managed to write with Graham “Asho” Ashton (Shambolics) whilst touring on the road.
The album has some of the most magical musicians and voices on it from Mia Goodwin (It’s Magnetic) to Karl S Williams (keyboards and backing vocals) it has been a work of true passion from all who have been part of it. And without their passion and love it would not be here today. So as you listen to this albums take in the alchemy that is Shades of Love
I am quite a literal kind of human and I’m going to do my best to describe each song in a way that I don’t give too much away behind the writing so you the listener can become as much part of the album as everyone on the recording. How you hear the song is so important to the journey of the album as is my journey as an artist. So here we go!
Music is a moment that has always been a way for me to connect with something greater than myself. Through the words and melodies of the artists that have come before me I have been able to learn to discover a way to reach out to a world that can be so close yet so far away.
When I stand on stage there is a feeling of sacredness where so many have stood before. Where they have bleed and shared their Sacred Sound. The production in this song has so much drama thanks to the incredible strings of Hannah Jane and Matisse Williment. That drama makes it a cracking opening track.
Since moving to Australia I have only ever lived in Alice Springs and being a creative from one of Australia’s most remote creative communities you have a sense of being on an island upon the vast space of red sand.
With so many lockdown and border closures, this song reflects my observations of living in such a place and how all over the world artist are being left to drown in the vast ocean of Covid drama. The trumpets are like fog horns calling out to the space letting us know we are here and we will always find ourselves back to the source of our art.
Production-wise this is my favourite song Jamie and I were seeking to create a desert image similar to those of the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns. The song is my interpretation of a tale I was told by Lamparra, my Walpiri mother-in-law; the difference being the wind is now a woman seeking reprisal for the hurt she has been through. A song for all those who have been abused at the hands of another human.
“We Got Love”
This track is simply a moment of knowing we can struggle in life. But, that as long as you know that you may enter and leave this life alone, it’s the love within that shines outward that brings joy. The backing vocals by Ofa Fanaika and Kelly Timmons give this song a soulful voice that just pumps the heart.
This song was written after a long bout of insomnia. I suffer from anxiety and routine is important to maintain my madness and at this time I was struggling to find me. So the conflict within myself at this time was intense. My producer Jamie had a real solid idea for this and when he introduced Andrew Garton (Sax) it gave it a real moment of relief. It was at this point I feel Jamie and I had our first creative clash as he wanted the falsetto at the end, and I was so not confident about doing that. Yet, he was right lucky I faced the fear and it’s now the ‘Bond’ track on the album.
This song was born from a road trip with Asho [Graham Ashton], when he and I were touring with River Mathews (UK) and I shared the tale of my first experience of having a Fisherman’s Friend.
When we were recording this, I sang it in the console room with instructions from Jamie to channel Nina Simone which I have to say had him receive some strange looks. This track is all feels from the moment Phil Usher (Vibraphone) comes in. You get a feeling of Tim Buckley and his track “Strange Feeling”.
“Human Kind Of Life”
I was extremely lucky to have worked with Rohin [Jones] on this song. It came to life from us just talking about life. It’s amazing what you can do just by talking. Rohin’s work on guitar is just so dreamy and right, it was just wonderful to watch.
It took us a day to write the song and we sent a demo to Jamie which had the birds singing with us. So when it came to recording and we had all the instruments – plus the cool Joe Cryle (Pedal Steel) – we felt there was something missing and we went back to the demo. It was decided straight away the song wasn’t complete without the birds. So I actually recorded the birds in Alice Spring on my phone in my backyard.
It’s a real special song which was featured on the ABC drama Wakefield and will live for a long time.
This track is strange, but so cool. It’s so not how I imagined it. Yet when Jamie heard the demo he straight away referenced “Big in Japan” by Tom Waits. In truth, I wasn’t so keen on the idea at first, but as he described his thoughts I began to understand his vision.
See the song is about mental health and how to be in living we have to go deep inside ourselves and pull ourselves out. That we literally have to dig deep to find ourselves. For me, Karl S Williams (keys and backing vocals) really lift the song and we have a little giggle at the end.
This was the very first track Jamie and I recorded, and it’s the one that has had the most changes. From lyrics to instrumentation to title changes this song has been kicked about and moved around. Yet it was the one song we knew would help define the character of the album. It would be our reference and guide. And regardless of how often we would become frustrated with the album, it was constant.
“Lonely Queens” was the song that started the creation process and I’m forever grateful we recorded it. It has so much attitude and story I’m so proud of it, because it does reflect the journey of the album. It also shows Jamie’s determination to create an album that I can be forever proud of.
“Fire and Rain”
I played this to Jamie when I was in Brisbane for a run of gigs and the moment he heard it he wanted to record it. I was surprised as my accent comes through so much and it gives me the willies. There is a real darkness in this but has a real groove to it that has you moving and again the keys bring a moment of light. I just hope Mr [James] Taylor enjoys the creative license we took on his wonderful song.
I love this song. It’s just so stunning and it’s at the end of the album as this song has me wanting more and giving more. Jamie got my guitar sounding so beautiful. While, the vibraphone, drums, and bass come together like honey and lemon. My voice sounded just so dreamy. The song was written after watching my niece take a temper tantrum and for some reason made me think how I have behaved in my relationships. It’s just a great song to end the album with.
Well I hope you enjoy this moment In my life. I wish to again thank Jamie and everyone who has taken the time to share their magic, their passion and their love, so that you can see the shades of love this wonderful album offers to the world.