It’s Laura’s birthday this week, which seems like a good time to be writing about The Truth, Tesseract and All The Ways Of This Love from the first Seafieldroad album, because she wrote the lyrics for all three, as well as singing on two of them (in addition to two other songs on the album, Feeble Jesus and Brian Wilson Karaoke). If it hadn’t been for Laura, in fact, there might not have been any Seafieldroad albums. She was the person who gave me the confidence and the motivation to make them; in some ways these three songs were the template for everything that followed.
Laura and I have been a couple for over ten years now, and are raising three children together. She is, in more ways than I could ever list, the most important (grown up) person in my life. Before all that, we were friends who bonded over music (theatre, art, film and books too, but mostly music). And as people who make a connection through music sometimes do, we ended up writing things for each other. The first one was Here’s Your Train, Safe Home, which I played to Laura on a train from London up to Scotland, three years before it was released. I wasn’t planning to admit it was about her, but she really liked it and I couldn’t help myself. There were obstacles to us being together at the time, is all I’ll say about that, but if you know the song you’ll know that this is the kind of confession that changes the whole dynamic of a relationship in a way that it’s difficult to go back from. The Truth was Laura’s response. I wrote some music for it and played it to her. Three years later our friend Camille sang it for the first dance at our wedding.
Laura hasn’t released much music herself. Once I Jumped I Was Fine, from the Whatever Gets You Through The Night album, is the only available recording by her band the Tea Dance Orchestra, although they played live a few times (Jethro Collins’ photo, above, was taken at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh in 2008). She co-wrote and sang on the Swimmer One song All The Things That Make You Want To Disappear and has been an important creative sounding board on loads of other things I’ve recorded (including the final stages of the Dead Orchestras album, for which she contributed vocal arrangement ideas to four songs).
She’s a really good writer, incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about music (her DJ sets are always excellent), and is a much more poetic lyricist than myself. The main reason you haven’t heard more of her musically is that she’s really good at lots of other things as well, surviving for much of her adult life as a multi-tasking arts freelancer (as opposed to a full-time staff journalist who was also in a band, like me). Instead of recording songs she’s been making theatre, helping other people make theatre, leading a dance organisation, doing an MPhil, founding/programming festivals, teaching, producing, mentoring, running her own company etc, as well as constantly learning countless new creative skills at a speed that frequently leaves me awe-struck. Successful or even just committed musicians are often people who neither know how to nor want to do anything else. Laura does.
The photo at the top of this page was taken on a Calmac ferry on another birthday: my own, in 2008, the first year we were together. Laura’s present to me was a surprise surfing lesson on Tiree; I had no idea where we were going until we got to Oban. It was a very happy weekend. I can’t get over how young we look.