The story behind the songs…

Ok, this has been quite hard to collate but digging in the depths of my motives, this blog should help outline how the album was conceived – listen to the tracks explained below now by clicking on the radio top right.

Firstly I should say that the title track; ‘The Magical Mirror’ is about my dad who sadly died in September 2004. He has been my biggest influence and was a magnetic personality; kind yet stern, silly and serious, respected and loved.  He had a dominant presence both on stage as an actor and in person and was able to befriend anyone. He might have become a professional actor had his life not dictated that he became qualified as a chartered accountant and acting remained a serious hobby.

The mirror is Georgian with a gold gilt surround and still sits over the mantle shelf in my mother’s drawing room. My father maintained that with the help of this ‘magic’ mirror, any of life’s problems could be solved. I think that this mirror knew him better than anyone, and my account of their relationship came to me while on holiday in Antigua in April 2008. I was sun bathing and listening to my MP3 player on random when a particular version of ‘The Man I Love’ played by Wardell Gray came on – the lyrics flowed from his saxophone solo almost seamlessly – I think it took me less than a couple of hours to write this vocalese. I hope he would have liked it.

Early pics of me with dad and with my mum

Early pics of me with dad and with my mum

All of my songs are observations, both of my own behaviour and of those around me. ‘I Won’t Ask’ and ‘Can I think of Love?’ are the opposite of angst songs – my outlook probably stems from my upbringing; my parents were so happy together and had a very measured relationship, my mother seamed to be particularly good at maintaining a contented home. I never thought that I would find a partner with whom I could be as happy as they were…

I have found ‘Cruel Competition’ to be a song that a lot of people identify with! I wrote it whilst managing a local fair trade furniture and gift store. I listened to the owners’ mostly Brazilian music CDs, and based it on the melody of “Meu Mundo e Hoje” By Wilson Batista. It is a story of hesitation and the obstacles of romance (which I know both my friends and I have encountered…!) ‘I Try too Hard’ is a similar sentiment from the same period (I have written English lyrics to “Banho Cheiroso” by Antonio Vieira) and although I was probably writing autobiographically at the time, I would like to dedicate it to my friend ‘Di’ who was always too keen to find ‘the one’ although now thankfully she has found him (in Australia – not Crouch End) and I am to be her bridesmaid next February!

Also while working there, I wrote ‘Without You Tonight’. This is in fact the first song I wrote to be included in the album. I don’t know where it came from – the sky I suppose – but I just started singing it and I was so anxious not to forget it that I sang it into my voicemail so I could write it out when I got home. It is a Christmas song, probably because my friend, drummer and composer Lennie Breslaw and I decided that to have a Christmas hit would be most lucrative… It reflects my feelings over the festive season towards my then rather illusive lover.

Don’t Assume that I’m Blue’ is about the same said lover who inevitably left me.

Scared of the Keys’ is a story about the fear of success – I have found this condition to be quite common among musicians I have met.

Kinder’ is unashamedly and gushingly about my current partner, who has given me the contented relationship I thought it was not possible to find (in London in this day and age!). He loves the Caribbean and took me to Antigua where I found myself inspired to compose – one day perhaps we will make it our home for six months of the year? We can but dream…

Finally ‘Looonatic’ I had better not elaborate on! – Lets just say I’ve come across some very strange people and I am sure I am not alone in my assessment of them. It was recorded as a bit of fun to end the album and I should point out that the voice samples featured are not related to the subject matter – they are good friends of mine! NB. Maria McLardy is the ‘Jazz Lady’ she was the ‘first bar maid in Ronnie Scotts’ and is an excellent musical mentor; I must thank her for introducing me to vocalese.

I made the last minute decision to include a cover track and have always liked ‘Missing You’ by Chris De Burgh, I think it makes a beautiful ballad and I very much admire his sensitive and wise lyrics. I have merged it with the Jazz standard ‘My One and Only Love’ by Robert Mellin and Guy Wood, I hope you like the arrangement.  (You can hear this track on iLike along with the other cover tracks our band has recorded)

We are just completing the design of the artwork and will shortly print up the CDs!  Phew…

Peace and out xj