It'll All Make Sense In The End

It'll All Make Sense In The End

“It seems weird to be talking about this as a coming-of-age album,” James Arthur tells Apple Music. “I’m in my thirties now. But on my previous albums, I was talking about lots of different things, whereas I’m coming from the same place on a lot of these songs—I’m someone who’s a bit confused and feeling a limbo period in life.” The Middlesbrough-born singer-songwriter’s fourth album took root in spring 2020 after emergency gallbladder surgery had interrupted his European tour in January. Although he recovered to complete arena dates in the UK and Ireland, the pandemic soon raised the buffers again, leaving him feeling directionless at home and living with anxieties that COVID invoked in many of us. “My health problems had led to uncovering a few mental health issues again,” he says. “I was in a weird headspace. I’d say I was numb.” He eventually found purpose in his home studio in Surrey. There, he hunkered down for a prolific three-month period of songwriting. “I’ve got a bit of ADHD, so my attention span’s all over the place,” he says. “Music has always been a thing to focus me and wire me in. Once I’m in, my endurance is crazy. I can do it for hours on end. This album is the product of that. It’s me being like, ‘I’ve got to throw myself into this or I’m going to throw myself off a building,’ as dark as that might sound.” Here, that cathartic creativity has been distilled into 14 songs that weave his reflections on life into a sound stretched and revitalized by his love of hip-hop, pop-punk, and post-hardcore. “I’m really grateful for this album,” he says. “It stabilized me and reinvigorated me. If you’re interested in where I’ve come from and where I’m going, this album is the most personal to me.” Let him take you through that journey, track by track. “Running Away” “‘I wanna smoke ’til I can’t wake up.’ That was where I was at, back to self-medicating. Ever since I was young, I’ve had a tendency to hit these walls. Having done a bit of therapy, I realized that it was childhood trauma—pivotal moments in my life have meant I’ve kept hitting these walls. Therapy wasn’t working, smoking weed all night wasn’t working anymore. Then I called up my old friend music and it came and saved me once again—just getting in the studio, or picking up the guitar. I’m touching on some very honest thoughts, like, ‘I made a lot of bad decisions. I sang songs I didn’t believe in.’ Even the songs that I’ve written, I was writing them for other people, not for myself. But this album became one for me.” “Wolves” “The trap percussion and that half-time guitar in the chorus is really impactful. That’s a bit of Taking Back Sunday mixed with Post Malone, I guess. It’s a cool indicator of what I’m trying to get across sonically with this album. I’m definitely giving some advice to my younger self, and to people that I’ve met that have struggled in the entertainment industry: ‘It’ll all make sense in the end.’ If I could say something to my younger self, it’d be, ‘Don’t worry too much. Don’t be so anxious. Just attack life and it’ll fall into place if you’re true to yourself.’” “Medicine” “This one is love over adversity, looking for the positives in a dark time. I wrote it with Yami Bell, who’s a big part of this record. He really helped bring those trap vibes. And Red Triangle, the production team on this one. None of us had been in a room with anyone for months. So we all had this pent-up creative juice flowing in the room. That was glorious to do that again.” “September” “One of the goals with this album was to maintain the classic songwriting that people might expect from me, that storytelling. But we wanted to dress it up a bit cooler. [The production here] is almost Springsteen vibes with the guitar. And the vocals are a bit raspier than normal. If you translate that onto an acoustic guitar and do a picky thing, it could be [previous hits] ‘Falling Like the Stars’ or ‘Say You Won’t Let Go,’ stuff that I’ve done before. I’m on my fourth album now. The last thing I want to be is predictable.” “Always” “I got to a point with the songwriting where I was feeling like I should be putting my arm around other people who’ve been at the same place as me. And, again, almost putting my arm around a younger version of myself. I’ve had my life saved in a relationship and I’ve had someone be there for me and I’ve been very lucky in that sense. This is a cousin to ‘Medicine’ in that it’s celebrating people that have loved you.” “Emily” “I came into the studio that day, and I was like, ‘Ah, having a kid is a real possibility at the minute.’ It didn’t work out, but at the time it was a real prospect and I was quite scared, actually. I was like, ‘What kind of dad will I be?’ And then, ‘Shit, what if they read some of the things? What if they see some of my behaviors from the past?’ I was a bit of a wreck back in the day. I want to be a really good dad and a role model. That provided me with a lot of material to work from. Emily was a name that I had always picked out for my possible daughter. You know you have those conversations with your missus? Emily Arthur sounded like a pretty cool name.” “Last of the Whiskey” “I had a lot of fun with this one. It’s a real just stream of consciousness and an expressive piece. The production’s pretty sparse. It’s all about the vocal and the conversation. It really feels like that last wild night that you had with someone. It feels very visceral to me.” “Never Let You Go” “This one came from the rear at the very end of the process. It was a really quick day with working with [songwriting/production team] TMS, who are like the biggest hitmakers in the UK. I wrote the song with Corey Sanders as well. He brings a kind of folksy vibe to the sessions. We got that chorus early on, and it was like, ‘OK, this might be an acoustic, folksy heartbreak song.’ But then I started doing this sort of hip-hop flow on the verses. It was the hardest one to put together, but it stands out because it’s quite experimental.” “4000 Miles” “I did like coming from that angle of talking about people’s friends. There’s a bit of that on the album. People are so bothered about opinions these days and people validating them. I’ve never had that mindset. So I liked the honesty in those kind of lines [‘I don’t want to knock about with your placebo friends’]—they’re make believe as far as I’m concerned.” “Deja Vu” “Shout-out to Ben Jones, who is one of the best guitarists in the world. I can’t take credit for that one. He absolutely nailed that. On a lot of these songs, the second verse is completely different to the first verse—you get this singer-songwriter first verse. And then the idea is how would a rapper or a trap artist approach the second verse? Travis Scott, Post Malone, or Young Thug. I approached it as though I was the feature on the record. That was really fun, so it opened up a lot of doors for me.” “Ride” “It evokes a lot of imagery—cars, smoke, that kind of stuff. It’s probably the one that I’m doing the most rap on. Or you could say this is a rap verse. The other ones are rap verses, but they’re pop, lyrically. The punchlines aren’t too deep, they’re more focused on the flow and the melody. Whereas with this one, there’s a bit of a scheme to the rap. And I’m coming from quite a cold place. Drake was a bit of an inspiration for the first verse.” “Avalanche” “We were in the session and I think I just sang the chorus—taking the piss, actually. And everyone was like, ‘Well, that’s good. Let’s build something around that.’ And it ended up being this sort of Goo Goo Dolls or Foo Fighters unplugged vibe. We toyed with making it more trap like the rest of the album, but it breaks things up a little in terms of the journey of the album.” “SOS” “The chorus-melody and a lot of the lyrics just hit me and I just started singing them in the room. It was like, ‘How heavy can I make it?’ That’s all I wanted to do, make it as heavy as possible and make it feel authentic. It’s a song about somebody who was just broken, which is where I was in life. I felt a bit broken, a bit let down, a bit disappointed, a bit numb. It’s a song of surrender in a way.” “Take It or Leave It” “I’m saying, ‘I’m broken. I feel like my doors are closing. I’m at the end, I’m even giving up on music in a way. I don’t even know if I want to play this game anymore. I don’t get the same thing that I used to get from it.’ And then the real confessional part of the song comes in the middle eight leading into the last chorus where I say, ‘It’ll all make sense in the end.’ It just felt like the perfect way to end the album. I want that line to creep up on you at the end and you’d feel those goosebumps when it comes in. You feel like, ‘Oh, OK, I get it all now.’ It resolves the journey and ends it in a quite organic way.”

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