I just felt like it made much more of a natural process. And to me it was great for all of us to be recording at the same time. And with the drummer being able to speed up a chorus, or pull back on a verse, just by how you performed the song. You know, that made so much difference to me, rather than recording all the music and then trying to put the vocal on top — like some kind of cherry on the top of the cake. The vocal informed the music, so that was good.
Is there a particular song that has a memorable “free jazz” kind of creation?
“I Would Like to Call It Beauty.” I felt so amazed, because I’ve written a lot of songs on my own before, where it’s just me and my guitar. And you don’t realize how much you thought of directing and contracting the time when you’re just playing on your own. And then it was very strange for me to have my first experience of recording where you go into a studio and someone would say: “Okay, what tempo is this?” So, you’d be sort of sitting down with a metronome and trying to work out how fast the whole song was.
And with this album, I really thought the songs didn’t have a fixed tempo; so, I really wanted to work with a drummer who could move with me and follow and play what felt right for particular songs. That’s why it was really good to work with Luke Flowers, because he is a really experienced jazz drummer and he’s really responsive and really sensitive. So I felt amazed, in that song, that we were just pulling the time around so much. And I felt like I had so much lead. I’ve never had that experience of playing with a drummer and having that much freedom. I always thought: “Oh, I’ve got to keep it very straight so that people will know what to do with it.” The experience was really amazing, because I felt like I could just be really fluid.
Before this album, you released a live double-disc, on which you covered Led Zeppelin’s “Since I’ve Been Loving You.” What attachment do you have to that particular song? I thought it was an interesting choice.
I was really, really attached to that song because I spent so much time with the first album being submerged with questions from journalists – especially European journalists – who would say: “Oh, you used to play in this, like, Indie rock band called Helen, and now you’re doing this music that’s more like jazz and soul.” And “Why the sudden change?” To me, I just didn’t feel like it was this massive change.