Here’s another mark of the talent and relational charm of Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody. Not long after lockdown in March he was one of the first to start Instagram gigs to see us through. When he suggested a songwriting night I sensed train crash carnage. How on earth could you write a song of any use with thousands of strangers on Instagram?
Well, The Fireside Sessions is far from any kind of crash. Considering the circumstances of its inception this is quite an achievement. Gary wrote twelve songs with his Instagram public. The Fireside Sessions give us five. There might be more on to come later Bandcamp.
It seems that in the hour after the Instagram suggestions of chords and lyrics, Lightbody worked for an hour to create the song. He then sent them to producer, and associate Snow Patrol member, Iain Archer who worked night and day to create this EP that could sit comfortably alongside the Reworked record that Archer also worked on.
My particular favourites are The Curve Of Earth and Light Years, the latter benefitting so much from Miriam Kaufmann vocals. Kaufmann’s harmonies are becoming a Snow Patrol hidden secret. More of it.
It is the lyrics that most impress me. Take the chorus from the first song written, Dance With Me:
The loudest silence brings a list of all our longing
Alone together in the dark
We'll ride this storm out in this quiet isolation
But the math, it can't explain our love
Or on Light Years:
Bright lights in time of darkness
You could be two meters away from me
But it seems light years sometimes, dear
But even distant, I'm with you
These lyrics touch on the Covid 19 lockdown but not to such an extent that it won’t stand on its on long after. They songs have catalogued the time without getting captured in it.
When I had the privilege of interviewing Gary Lightbody at the 4 Corners Festival in February he quickly dismissed my suggestion that he was first and foremost a poet. I do think though that the English teacher at Campbell College, Mr McKee, who inspired him so much gave Lightbody’s lyrics as much Seamus Heaney as he did Van Morrison or Bob Dylan.
What I am fascinated about here is how much the lyrics of Lightbody have influenced his Instagram strangers. When someone looks across the Snow Patrol catalogue in 25 years time they will not see much difference in the lyrical style of The Fireside Sessions and the rest.
So this is a lovely little extra release for Snow Patrol fans, tiding us over until this is all done and the band can get back with Jacknife Lee for the follow up to Wildness. It is another little light to come out of the shadows of lockdown. Lightbody has used the time well. Apparently he has an album or two tucked away!
Not only is The Fireside Sessions good but it is good for something. All proceeds will go to the anti-poverty charity Trussell Trust doing so much with Food Banks in these difficult times.
Good works boys… and Miriam!