"Why can't all things lead to joy?"
Every musical artist has a different motivation for creation, a different source of inspiration and a pace at which they realise their vision. For Autumn Chorus - the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Robbie Lloyd Wilson - his most recent work has dipped into a darker well and yet delivered a song of genuine joy and boundless beauty.
Having released their debut album in 2011, Autumn Chorus were in the process of preparing their follow-up when Robbie was diagnosed with stomach cancer in late 2014. The resulting treatment meant that the album was put on hold and the band, at least as a collective of friends and musicians, was essentially disbanded.
On reflection, Robbie tells us: "I was diagnosed with cancer in October 2014 and this made writing and rehearsing together almost impossible due to regular chemotherapy. Making solo music since then has become slow, but it's also now more poignant to me than ever..."
“Snake in the Grass” is the first track to emerge from these solo sessions, a stunning piece of orchestral folk rich with emotion and lyrical light. Inspired by the likes of Simon & Garfunkel, The Everly Brothers and Buffalo Springfield, it's a transportive three and half minutes of masterful songwriting, classic production and moving lyrics.
"It's about the contradiction of good and bad within these times. Obviously there is the sinister side of something lurking in the background, ready to cause disruption, but also it's about acknowledging the joy and blessings we have that can consume any sadness and win out. The last line then resolves the sheer love and gratitude I have for my wife who I believe has kept me alive, and given me a lifetime’s worth of love and support in just a couple of years."
In contrast to its grand, orchestral sound, the recording process was very much a DIY affair: "The song was recorded between the 2 small studio setups my wife and I have at home. She is a professional musician and qualified sound engineer, so I would record in my own room and then pass things to her where she would make them sound good! She also performed the string parts, leaving me to sing, layer harmonies, and play the instruments I have grown up learning - guitar, trumpet and flugelhorn, and piano."
Having collaborated with the likes of Fyfe Dangerfield, Thomas Feiner and The Irrepressibles in recent years, Robbie Lloyd Wilson has gained great acclaim along the way for his Robert Kirby-esque string arrangements and timeless production work from critics and fans alike. It now seems to be his time to step up as an artist in his own right.
The question is, could “Snake in the Grass” be an opening track to a second 'Autumn Chorus' album?
"Health permitting, hopefully yes! I have a handful of songs that have been coming together as and when I've been well enough to write and demo them. I have always found when I write, each song gets to a point where it either takes on its own character and I fall for it, or it leads to ambivalence. I have to trust when I've found the former, and then they really start to progress into how the instrumentation will suit the mood and atmosphere."
SNAKE IN THE GRASS IS NOW AVAILABLE TO DOWNLOAD OR STREAM WORLDWIDE: iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon Music, Bandcamp.
- Alternative Classical Folk