Editors’ Notes “I wanted this album to be more about connection than trying to be perfect,” Freya Ridings tells Apple Music. Two years of performing soulful acoustic pop to fans around the UK and releasing two live albums has inspired this powerful, aching studio debut. Her writing has been on a journey: Tracks that originated in a teenage-bedroom songbook that she expected no one to hear have been fine-tuned by touring. “That’s why I love playing live,” she says. “The second I start to overthink, I have to go away, have a cup of tea, and come back to it, because it’s all about that subconscious human energy that unites us all. Capturing that under-the-radar heartbreak that we all have but we don't really talk about.” And this is an album fueled by plenty of heartbreak as Ridings contemplates one-sided love (“Unconditional”), time with a lover coming to an end (“Elephant”), and rising from the wreckage of a broken relationship (“Castles”). “There’s melancholy in my music,” she says. “But also, the hope that something better is going to come.” Here, the singer-songwriter takes us on a track-by-track tour of her debut.
“Poison” “It’s quite a cinematic—almost gothic—song with some Celtic elements. As a redhead, I'm pretty fiery and when I love something, I love it with everything I am, which is why it’s all the more painful when it disappears. We don’t start in a place of heartbreak, we start in a place of absolute passion and obsession—that’s why I had to open with this song.”
“Lost Without You” “I had no idea that the song was going to be played on Love Island. It was actually written before the show even existed, so it was definitely nothing that I’d ever dreamed of. I wrote it on my own in my front room feeling very heartbroken, never thinking that anyone would hear it. So for it to have completely changed my life and also become this anthem, I’m just so honored. It all became real from there.”
“Castles” “I write so many ballads. In my soul, that’s my safe space. Writing an uptempo song was out of my comfort zone but definitely something that I felt passionately about, because after heartbreak it’s finding that inner phoenix-like fire to come back out of the ashes of that hard time and make your life better. It’s definitely been a huge theme throughout my life. If you can turn the darkest moments of your life into the greatest, that’s a superpower.”
“You Mean the World to Me” “Lena [Headey, Game of Thrones actress] got in touch and said she was getting into directing music videos and that she’d like to do my next one. She thought Maisie [Williams, also Game of Thrones] would be the perfect lead. I have so much respect for them as actors and the female creative empowerment that we have in this world. It was a really emotional three-day, freezing-cold shoot. I’m so happy with it.”
“Love Is Fire” “We open the live set with this song and have done for five years. Every time I hear that guitar, I feel adrenaline in my system, my heart going, and I know I’m ready to play. Once I started playing live shows, I understood that you want a show that feels like a journey. Having the opportunity to write with that in mind but also stay true to how I’m feeling at the moment has been an interesting cocktail of emotions.”
“Holy Water” “Celtic music and gospel music have a huge thing in common. There’s a huge, deep well of pain and suffering inside of a whole people. For me, I definitely feel that in my Irish roots, and it’s something hugely important to me. It’s four incredible gospel vocalists on this track. They sang lots of different versions and we layered it up. We all stood in a room, clapped and sang in different places to make it sound like there were more people.”
“Blackout” “I do value the opinions of people close to me, but when you’re in that heartbreak phase, another part of you just wants to be loved by one person so much that you go mad. My family and friends are so wise, but sometimes you just want someone who isn’t good for you. The piano has been one of my oldest friends. Who do you turn to in your time of need? For me it’s the piano.”
“Ultraviolet” “I love the High Contrast remix of this song! I wasn’t one of those cool teenagers who went to the club, but I love the fact that songs I wrote—being very uncool as a teenager—are now being played to lots of people having a great time. I love hearing people’s different interpretations of the songs, whether that’s remixes or covers that people send me all the time on Instagram. I watch every single one of them.”
“Still Have You” “I'm so excited because it’s probably one of the only songs that people haven’t ever heard. I’m used to playing songs live before releasing them now. I want to keep pushing boundaries and doing things outside my comfort zone, because the fans have given so much, so I couldn’t give them anything less than everything that I have.”
“Unconditional” “I wrote this song in the same week as ’Lost Without You’—they’re two of the earliest songs I wrote on the record, and I’ve been playing them for many years. It’s probably the closest thing I have to a real love song on the album. You can be saved by someone, but you can also save that person, too. And it’s that kind of balance that I think Disney and fairy tales leave out. My parents have been together for 35 years, and I see that balance in them. My mum calls it ’compatible flaws.’ You both have your weaknesses, but they balance each other. You can be whole on your own and find someone who is whole as well but you choose to be with each other—that’s the thing I connect with and I want more than anything.”
“Elephant” “With songwriting, it feels like you can time-stamp your emotions in a way that I don’t think is normal. It gives you this epic perspective, which means you can write a song that encapsulates a feeling, like a ship in a bottle. You get to look back and they’re real, they’re alive, and they’re in the bottle, but they’re not as big as they once were to you. It’s so cripplingly painful when you are in love with someone and they’re not in love with you anymore, and there’s no changing that. There’s only embracing it and acknowledging it and then moving forward. To look back, it still makes me emotional to this day, and it’s one of the songs that I’m most scared to put on the album.”
Wishbone “We recorded ‘Wishbone’ many times on a fancy grand piano, but it didn’t feel right. I saw this little old piano in the corner with keys falling off it and it’s super old. It didn’t make much noise, so we had to put mics really, really close to it, and in one take we got it. It was about connection to the moment and meaning it very deeply. That’s so much more important than it being technically recorded better. That doesn’t bother me at all. All that bothers me is if it makes me want to cry, because if it doesn't make me cry—it’s not going to connect with anyone else.”
Lost Without You
You Mean the World to Me
Love Is Fire
Still Have You
12 Songs, 42 Minutes
July 19, 2019
Good Soldier Records/Capitol Records; ℗ 2019 Good Soldier Records Limited, under exclusive license to UMG Recordings, Inc.
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