Q+A: Songwriting, The Recording Process, and My Favourites of 2015

Q: Do you have a process for writing songs? For example, do you start with chord progressions, then build a melody, then write lyrics? Describe how you'd create a typical song. A: It will start with just playing for fun, and something comes out that that I want to play over and over - then the real work starts!  Sometimes I have a line that gives me a clue, sometimes I have to search and keep looking, but in the end it gets done - but I'm never sure if it all fits together as best it can - I just have to commit in the end , and it is what it is. Songwriting is a strange world of imagination for me - it's a private time and a mysterious place and it makes one a slightly altered person - I can't imagine life without it.   Q: What's your thought process when starting a new album? Do you go in with a concept/theme, or do you create individual songs that stand on their own? As with The Moodies, for the first seven albums, I find that with solo albums a theme will start to suggest itself early on, and then I tend to lean towards that as I write more songs for a while. That was certainly the case with 'Spirits'. I found that I had subconsciously been looking at, thinking of and writing about a time of emotional turmoil from a long time ago, and then I realised how relevant that feeling was to things that were happening in the moment as I was writing the new songs, so I found myself mixing it all up, and 'time travelling' through experiences and strong feelings. I find that touring is an inspiration nowadays and although I rarely write on tour, the view I have is interesting and touching, and sometimes very emotional - which stays with me and resonates when I get home for a while where I can think about it all and write about things.   Q: With 2015 in the rear view, what was your favorite thing you listened to that year? A: Ok - three very different things come to mind (I would have a completely different answer tomorrow by the way, so don't think it's set !): 1. 'Dime Store Cowgirl' Kacey Musgraves. - it cheers me up without fail - and she is so gorgeous. 2. 'Gloomy Sunday' Ketty Lester. I re-discovered it , and remembered how dear all her early recordings were to me. 3. 'What Am I Doing Here' The Moody Blues. I had been thinking about it , but deliberately not listening in case it wasn't as evocative as I remembered it - but when I played it, it was.