Song Deconstructed: ‘Anything But Easy’ by Lisa Redford
The award-winning singer-songwriter, music columnist and tutor returns with a new Americana-tinged single, and here she breaks down the composition
Having been based in New York City as well as the UK, singer-songwriter Lisa Redford has released three studio albums, and several EPs, that have received airplay across the world. Her song Dragonfly was played on a Bob Harris Radio 2 ‘Best of British’ special, which featured the best songwriters in the UK, with Bob saying, “She’s got such fantastic warmth to her music…one of our finest singer/songwriters”.
Lisa returns with Anything But Easy, her most radio-friendly single yet and the first taste of her upcoming EP Edge of Love, so we asked her to dissect the new track and explain how the song was created…
“I find inspiration comes to me in different ways. Ideas can develop from a melody, playing a chord progression or riff on the guitar, or having a lyrical theme and then building on it. I also find some songs originate from a phrase that I have read or heard and that’s what happened with this song. Somebody I knew was going through an emotional time in a relationship and had to make a difficult decision. They said, “this is anything but easy,” and immediately it sparked an idea. I played a chord progression and the chorus came really quickly. The other sections started forming soon after and it all just seemed to flow really well.”
“The lyrics come from a place of emotional honesty. I had been going through a particularly tough emotional situation and every word in the song is true, conveying exactly how I was feeling at that point. It begins with: ‘Take my hand, don’t let it go. In your eyes, all I need to know,’ which really sets the scene. It is about a certain point of realising that you can’t change how someone feels and the lyrics convey that feeling of frustration: ‘Whatever made you have a change of heart / And I know that I’ve been here before, always left wanting more.’
“I love songs that have a sadness lyrically but the music is melodious. The combination of the two makes it feel bittersweet. Realising how hard it is to let go, and also letting yourself go, is a heartfelt motif throughout the new EP Edge Of Love; whether you know you need to let go of someone or something or letting yourself go emotionally – letting down your guard, being open to feeling vulnerable even if that means getting hurt.”
“I had been playing the song acoustically at live shows with Noel Dashwood, a superb musician whose dobro playing brings such warmth. He has a gift with riffs and came up with a lovely memorable intro and great harmony vocals. He also plays a lovely call and response in the middle eight and last chorus.
“All of my songs come from the heart and Anything But Easy has an acoustic Americana sound with a strong melodic sensibility. It also has a rootsy country pop feel but with an emotional edge and rhythmic energy to it. Live, the song has always been received so well with people commenting on its strong hook, immediacy and emotional resonance.”
In The Studio
“I worked again with José McGill from The Vagaband who had produced my last, more acoustic, EP Another Place And Time. Before going into the studio to record with him I had recorded a demo that wasn’t far off from what it is now in terms of structure and feel.
“The foundation is my acoustic guitar and vocals. José played bass and then added a lovely 12-string guitar and melodica motif. He suggested a few more harmonies and also having a cello in the middle eight which brought a real depth of sound.
“As it’s a very rhythmic track, José added a lot of great percussion. He later felt that drums would really enhance the song and so recorded drums were recorded at The Crunch in Norwich where there is an amazing selection of vintage analogue and digital instruments. There is a really warm organic sound to the recording with the dobro, harmonies and acoustic instrumentation which is exactly what I was trying to achieve.”
“Anything But Easy was the first song recorded for the new EP Edge Of Love and it felt like the natural first single. The response so far has been really great and I can’t wait to share the rest of the tracks.
“Edge Of Love is full of really creative arrangements and instrumentation with José adding some lovely subtle sonic layers and textures. Lyrically it’s romantic and bittersweet – there’s quite a lot of melancholy running through my music – but the melodies are uplifting. I listen to an eclectic mix of music and these songs really represent me as an artist – a blend of my Americana, country, folk and classic pop influences.”
Anything But Easy is out now. All the latest info at lisaredford.com