JUST over two weeks ago, Linzi Clark achieved what many aspiring artists would only dream of at this stage of their career – she released her debut album ‘All I Have Now’ into the world.
Written in lockdown, ‘All I Have Now’ is a stunning collection of songs that lend us a window into the most personal – at times reflective, curious and even turbulent – parts of her world. Exploring the complex space between the inner monologue and outer world, she delivers delicate and thoughtful observations on love, identity and personal growth – all with an inviting candidness and universal relatability.
Already receiving widespread acclaim, we catch up with Linzi as she prepares for her album launch show at Hug n Pint on Tuesday 30th November.
“It feels like a huge weight off of my shoulders” she says about the album finally being out. “I feel like a proud mother watching her babies run off to school and the other children have been so welcoming and kind that I feel proud that I’ve raised them well.”
“On the release day, I had a small gathering with friends and family to celebrate, I had promised a firepit and sparklers to celebrate in true bonfire style but I was so emotionally shattered it was a minimal effort of booze and a fireworks dress haha! It was a really special evening and now I get to celebrate all over again at the launch gig on Tuesday! Like a never-ending birthday!”
The album has been a huge milestone for the Paisley singer-songwriter – allowing her the time and space to take a step away from the electro-pop of her duo DRIFT, for a more intimate songwriting experience.
Speaking about the process, she says “The songs on the album were written over the space of two years, most were finished the evening before recording! It was a very intense process. I felt comfortable and free to write from a place of honesty and personal experience, I think this opened up a creative flow that resulted in the overall feel of the album.”
There’s no denying that each song feels like we’re being made privy to an excerpt from a personal diary. On ‘The Kitchen’ she sings about longing to feel satisfied, on ‘With You’ she captures the highs, lows and complexities of falling in love, on ‘Balancing Act’ she reflects on her own personal identity and sexuality, and on the title track, she reflects on her vulnerabilities through the lens of a relationship.
She says. “I felt a definite need to do it for me as a songwriter, but it also felt like I was at the right stage in my life to release a body of work that fully represented me as an artist. All I hoped for was to release an album that captured who I am and all the little stories I have to share and to invite people on that journey with me. If the people listening could relate or identify with it then even better!”
The album first started to take shape during lockdown – and the quiet, solitary nature of this time certainly bleeds into the intimate sound of the album. With more time to reflect and experiment with sounds, it gave Linzi the push she needed to bring the project to life.
“It worked really well for me actually!” she says about making the album during this time. “I had no experience of recording in a studio with a band or a producer so I guess I didn’t really know what I was missing out on and with this being a debut release, I had nothing to compare it to. I was spoiled with having all the time in the world to get vocal takes down and to play about with ideas, there was something freeing about having full control over that side of things.”
“Lockdown also allowed me to fully immerse myself in the process and really helped me get into a creative flow that I think normal life would have disrupted otherwise. Working on the songs most evenings was great escapism from everything that was going on, it was strange to go from my day job doing support work through a pandemic to feeling excited by this wee world of songs we were creating. I can say I recorded my debut album in my pjs and listened to the mixes while out on socially distanced walks, a truly unique experience which I’m sure will be a bizarre memory to look back on.”
‘All I Have Now’ started to take shape after a surprise message from Paisley-based musician and producer Bovine. Drawn in by a short live clip he’d seen on Instagram, he got in touch in the hope of collaborating. The pair started working together almost immediately – his rich, warm production style augmenting Linzi’s deeply personal reflections with flashes of modern Americana and a smoky soulfulness. Filling out her sound with a rhythmic swagger, it’s a truly enticing combination– one that’s informed by a love for artists like Big Thief, Cate Le Bon, This is the Kit, Julia Jacklin, Lana Del Rey and more
Speaking about their working relationship, she says “I had known of Richard’s work through the creative scene in Paisley but we’d never collaborated before. He heard a snippet of my single ‘The Kitchen’ and asked if there was a recording anywhere (which there wasn’t) and we then went on to make the album together! I will never forget hearing the first mix of The Kitchen, my heart dropped and I remember feeling such a sense of relief, like the musical stars had aligned and everything had fallen into place.”
“I’m such a fan of his own music, I was really keen that his signature style was prominent throughout. Some of my favourite moments in the album are the parts that sound so very Bovine! Each song was tackled from the feeling it presented, we had a shared vision and didn’t need to communicate much on what direction to take it. This meant that the recording and production was emotion/atmosphere-led, a language we could both understand, it really helped to guide the process and kept the vision for each song clear. It feels like a marriage of both our musical influences coming together which I really like! From the first mix, I knew my songs were in safe hands and that really helped to stop overthinking and to keep the momentum going.”
Driven by a desire to connect – with her own emotions as much as the people around her – Linzi’s songs soar and year with warmth, love and curiosity. Rooted in the rich storytelling tradition of many well-known artists, she cites Regina Spektor, Lou Reed, Adrienne Lenker, Karen Dalton and Julia Jacklin as inspirations. “Anyone that shares a bit of their soul within a song, I find inspiring” she says. “I really love ordinary everyday words that are placed together in a way that hits you hard, maybe it breaks your heart for a second or creates such a vivid image that it feels like someone sharing a secret with only you. Like Karen Dalton’s lyrics ‘Something’s on your mind isn’t it?’ The delivery and phrasing is so raw it feels she’s singing it from a voice in your head.”
It’s something that Linzi has absolutely nailed on her own record; her lyrical turn of phrase can be thought-provoking and devastating in equal measure. ‘With You’ is a particular standout as she explores the different stages of being in love: the sense of safety (“I lay down on your bed it takes away the edge, softening the blow, protecting all I know”) the insecurities it can pull to the surface ( ‘‘I hate how much you’ve seen, the ugly underneath, the tricky side to me, the messy in-between, the hardest parts to clean) and the vulnerability of someone knowing so much about you (‘Now that we are drunk, shower me with truth, hitting where it hurts, lips are getting loose, the accuracy worse, it’s gospel, it’s true”). Unafraid to shy away from life’s big questions, she explores subjects with soul-bearing honesty and an alluring poeticism.
This insightful and revelatory side of her writing was always clear from her work with DRIFT. Speaking about the differences of working solo and as a duo, she says “A positive would be the freedom to be really self-indulgent, especially throughout the writing process. I didn’t have to hold back or search for common ground and I could say exactly what I wanted to which was incredibly cathartic.
I also had a bit of an awakening like ‘oh this is what I sound like then!’’ I realise that sounds bizarre, but having the opportunity to delve deep into my songwriting and to bring that to life was a good opportunity to see what was hiding beneath the surface. To pour all my influences, personal experiences and the themes that have followed me about into a body of work feels special, like a tangible snapshot of my life or something”
“A negative would be that there’s so much more room to overthink and to let self-doubt creep in. When I’m working with Andrew on DRIFT, I need to let that side go so that I don’t kill the vibe or the momentum so I definitely missed the collaboration and the light fun that can bring.”
Of course, as cathartic and rewarding as the solo process has been, collaboration has always been a strong part of her songwriting journey up until now. Back in 2019, she launched a series of songwriting workshops called ‘SHE SINGS’ for young women aged 16-25 in Renfrewshire. The incredible initiative was designed to tackle the gender gap in the music industry and to create a sustainable collective of women who could support each other through their music. The project was a huge success, paving the way for a whole new generation of female songwriters in the local area.
Speaking of the experience, she says “It was so inspiring! I felt like a bit of a hypocrite at times, as I was trying to inspire those taking part to dig deep and have the confidence to bare their souls in front of others, all while these were things I struggled to do! I think that helped to bring us close as a group though, it was a shared experience, I was like ‘I know how terrifying this is but let’s give it a go!’
“The industry can feel quite isolating and sometimes feels so heavily driven by having a strong online presence, self-promotion, stats, ticket sales etc. To spend time just writing songs for the sake of writing with no pressure was great for the soul and served as a nice reminder of the beauty that writing songs can bring.”
“I think having a support network is so important in this industry and as young women and I think it’s important to have a space where you can explore who you are as an artist and express what you want to say in a safe way. Self releasing an album with no management or label was incredibly difficult at times, If I didn’t have that sense of support from friends and family, the self-doubt would have definitely taken over. That was something I wanted to create at SHE SINGS, a place to be free of self-doubt and to open up new ideas.”
As if to come full circle, Linzi will be supported by one of her She Sings friends at her album show next week at Hug N Pint. With support from Mairi Small, Jordan Stewart and Julia and the Doogans, it promises to be a celebratory night that will also see her joined by a band for the first time. A chance to see the album in full, it’s one you don’t want to miss.
What can we expect? “Tears, rambles and dad jokes probably.” she says. “Playing the album live is something I’ve been really looking forward to, I think it will feel like the little cherry on top. I’ll be playing with a band for the first time too which I’m so excited about! I hope it will be a cosy, feel-good evening on a dreich Tuesday in November.”
As for future plans? “I’m really looking forward to getting out there and playing the album live. My only solid plan is to keep writing songs – that’s all I know how to do! It will be nice to release new music whenever that feels right but for now, I look forward to sharing the album!”
Get your tickets here.