Before was recorded in the first weeks of 2019, with supreme Danish multi-instrumentalist Gustaf Ljunggren, Boo’s only collaborator on the set. Whilst this is an album for the times (that echoes the darkness and confusion around us all these days), Before is also a timely reminder of the power of simplicity, Hewerdine’s lyricism set to a subtle backdrop of vintage instrumentation.
“My producer and studio partner Chris Pepper found a Dulcitone last year. A century old keyboard that strikes tuning forks with felt hammers. I fell in love with its delicate sound straight away. We then came by an Indian harmonium, a Vibraphone and several other unusual instruments. My father’s old piano lives in the studio. Using these (and no guitars) I started recording with little intention this would become an album. Since Swimming In Mercury was released in 2017, I have been writing, recording and touring with Eddi Reader, Chris Difford, Kris Drever and Emily Barker among others. I love this! All my significant friendships have come through collaborative creativity. I realised that another friend Gustaf Ljunggren from Copenhagen, also has an amazing collection of strange instruments so I asked him to react to my new recordings and augment them instinctively. He has a unique approach to instrumentation and always offers the song something unexpected (we first worked together on the album Anon back in 2002) I really trust him!
The previous record was the most complex work I had made since The Bible days and I am always drawn to distilling ideas into as minimal a form as possible. I love the painting Cracked Ice by Maruyama Okyo, an incredibly spare work from the 18th century that looks like it could have been created now. It was always in my mind during the writing and so I asked The British Museum and they let me use the artwork on the cover of Before.
This album feels like an opportunity to go back to the source. The way a song might spring into being almost fully formed. Ever since I was a kid there’s been a soundtrack in my head. The song, ‘I Wish Had Wings’ arrived on the way to the studio and I recorded it without any editing or honing. In fact I thought about making the quotation marks a part of the title as I hardly feel I had much consciously to do with its arrival! A song about daft songs popping into my mind. These songs are not as “crafted” as some I have written but I love them for that. This is how I first hear them. These are first drafts. Before”.
Artist’s website: http://boohewerdine.net/
An oldie from The Bible days – ‘Honey Be Good’ – live: