9. Writing in Wales (Moonlight Melody)

The rain was relentless and the drive took around 6 hours before I finally reached the sleepy seaside town of Newport on the Pembrokeshire coast.

The bungalow where I set up camp, is a family home of a really supportive friend of mine and when I asked to see if it was free, he couldn’t have been more accommodating or welcoming.

I had fond memories of the place as I’d written there before. 4 years prior, just after my previous band of 10 years had decided to break up, I headed there as a way to retreat and get my head together. I had no serious plans of becoming a solo artist but the place had something mysterious about it that inspired and encouraged me to write music with a focus and ferocity that I’d never really experienced before. I credit the place for giving me the initial material I needed in order to convince myself that I could indeed do the solo thing to some degree.

This time round I turned up with a scaled down studio setup and turned the place into an efficient, self-contained creative hub. The pressure was on, and I knew I needed to fully exploit the opportunity of the next 7 days or so.

There was no phone signal or internet so any tools of inspiration needed to be thought about before-hand. Apart from the equipment and instruments I was using, I brought along a selection of poetry, books, and some very select albums to refer and listen to. I was tactical about the food I ate and made several large portions of basic dishes in order not to have to waste time thinking up meal options, let alone cooking.

The house overlooks the stunning scenery of a river mouth spilling out into a bay. Beyond that, the giant silhouette of a peninsula stretches its rocky arms out into St George’s channel, pointing the way towards Southern Ireland. At dusk, when the weather permitted it, the sun would project all manner of colours, painting various gradients that descended into deeper and more distant waters. On clear nights, the radiant beams of a lighthouse would swoop across the coastal darkness against a celestial backdrop of a thousand stars, each graciously puncturing and decorating the peaceful moonlit firmament.

Upon arriving there, I got straight to work and began coming up with new ‘rounds’ on a stage piano and acoustic guitar. A ‘round’ is the basic songwriting circuitry that revolves around a verse, chorus and perhaps a bridge or riff. It’s enough to know whether to fully commit to an idea or to resign it to the ‘maybe pile.’

From the very moment I started to thrash out new ideas, I was immediately excited, but I knew it would mean nothing unless I settled on concepts that had some serious purpose and lyrical sincerity. The more seeds there are for songs, the harder it is to honour them all by going the extra-mile and giving them soul. It takes a lot of exploration in the unknown to get to a point that feels tangible.

I’d work round the clock starting at about 10am and usually finish 18 hours later at 4am allowing myself 45 minutes to take an afternoon walk along the nearby beach and banks of the river mouth.

After about 7 or 8 of these days spent in total solitude I’d recorded around 8 fairly developed arrangements though admittedly some of the lyric sheets needed more inspection. The songs had clear avenues to head down and despite having a lot to manage mentally, I knew the surroundings had helped me slip into a richer vein of writing form and that I’d return home feeling a lot more confident in the fact that I was armed with an abundance of material I could carry forward into the album.


Moonlight Melody

Standing at the water’s edge,

Staring at the open wide,

Brush stroke sunset,

Lilac in the sky,

Time slip away,

Gone with another day,

Whisper on the breeze,

Moonlight melody,

Working out where I went wrong,

Searching for the will to carry on,

Shake me out of this deep suspense,

Over thinking won’t make much sense, so I’m…

Standing at the river mouth,

Memories spilling out,

Distant little lights,

Glitter into the night,

Standing at the water’s edge,

Staring at the open wide,

West coast sunset,

Falling with the tide.

Featured Posts