The sea calls. Lizzy Hardingham takes inspiration from the Mersey in her new set of songs about the sea. It’s called Seven and it’s out now.
Release Date: 29th May 2020
Label: self released
Formats: CD / DL
Unless you’re up to your waist in Rickmansworth Aquadrome, you’re probably going to feel like a solid landlubber in landlocked Hertfordshire. Lizzy Hardingham, however firmly she may have her feet planted in Middle England, has taken inspiration from the side of her family that hails from the banks of the Mersey in composing her new EP, Seven.
That’s not to suggest that Seven is any link between Liverpool and deadly sins, one of the most gross Hollywood films in living memory, or what Craig David gets up to during an average week. Hardingham’s muse is the open sea, and more specifically, the seven oceans of the globe. Two of the seven songs are shanties, commonly sung to accompany hard graft loading vessels. “Heave away. Haul away,” on South Australia could easily have been sung by stevedores in Liverpool’s dockland heyday. Rolling Down To Old Maui will have you feeling rowdy and hunting in the cupboard for that bottle of rum that’s left over from last Christmas.
Both shanties offer little in terms of instrumentation. You essentially get wave after wave of timber-shivering vocal, not only on those two tracks but throughout. Anyone who’s thinking, “but vocals are supposed to be good on EP/album releases,” just needs to catch a live set to hear how pinpoint and powerful her vocal is, even singing in her own living room. Old sailors talk of how the sea calls them when they’re away from it. There’s a similar sense with this EP that you can get through the seven tracks, then firmly intend to do something else, but a little inner voice will seductively purr, “One more listen to King of The Boundless Deep?”
It’s basically an eight-track EP, whichever one you feel compelled to listen to twice. The EP’s opener is one of the strongest folk tracks of 2020 so far. It not only takes the poetry of Joseph Edwards Carpenter, but also embraces the ecological awareness that Hardingham has woven into previous songs, such as Harvester of Gold. The whale on which the song focuses has beauty, grace and wisdom. The lyrics contrast how much majesty and wonder there can be in this world with the shameful, destructive hubris of which mankind is capable. Anyone who wants to make a UK lockdown parallel out of that is entirely welcome.
Self-penned Memorial For A Glacier has a similarly cautionary environmental basis, as Jack Frost mourns the loss of his “loving bride”. A glacier that once soared is rendered a speck. What could get bogged down in “Oooh, me wife’s melted” melancholia actually rumbles (especially through the guitar part) with the glacier’s sinister intended vengeance to “drown all the people / Too blind and too busy to care.” Hardingham also sings the line, “The Kings in their throne rooms are laughing and burning their money.” Anyone who wants to make a UK lockdown parallel out of that is entirely welcome.
Life’s restrictions may be loosening, but live gigs seem light years, nautical miles away. Revenue streams for many artists must feel like trickles. In such times, for Lizzy Hardingham to pledge half of the proceeds of this release to the RNLI, is yet another factor to endear us to her hugely. You can keep Oceans Eleven, Twelve & Thirteen, Frank Ocean, Billy Ocean and Ocean Colour Scene. You can keep Cake by the Ocean by DNCE. You can keep Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman and scenes of gratuitous death. I’ll settle for Seven.
Listen to a live performance of King Of The Boundless Deep here: