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Turin Brakes write songs for Lisa Mitchell


According to her biography, Australian singer-songwriter Lisa Mitchell has worked with Turin Brakes on her upcoming debut album.

Update (10-10-2008): It is actually Olly and Gale involved in this!

At just 17, Lisa Mitchell is shaping up to be a new kind of singer-songwriting protégé. She’s a teen, and the music is pop, but rather than teen-pop, this talented young woman is fast finding a voice all of her own. It’s candy-coated folk-pop with a fierce and often dark heart.

Her music embodies the tenderness of Laura Marling, the wordplay of Regina Spektor and the free spirit of Feist, but Lisa nonetheless inhabits a magical world that few other artists are exploring.

Born in England to a Scottish father, she moved to Australia at three years old and made it her home. She grew up in something of a musical timewarp, grateful to her father for raising her on Bob Dylan (“the best man in the world”), Cat Stevens and Van Morrison. All the while finding obsessions of her own, like Bright Eyes, or The Killers, whose ‘Hot Fuss’ album “got me through Year 10 at high school.”

All of these influences put a burgeoning talent as a singer-songwriter through a unique new filter, and made a rich and expressive instrument of her honeycracked voice. It’s an instrument that’s already won her several plaudits along the way.

Take new single ‘Neopolitan Dreams’; at first listen a cute and soft tinder-box lullaby. But scratch the surface and it splinters into a kaleidoscope of imagery displaying an emotional breadth and stark confessions that 17-year-olds are not often given the chance to showcase.

“I guess it stems from a parting of two people, obviously me and someone else,” says Lisa of the song. “That’s where the spirit of the song came from, but then it moves into a place of like, not having such a clear idea of where you’re headed. But then when the refrain comes in, the ‘ba-da ba-das’, it’s like saying ‘there’s so much going on, but hey, fuck it, we’re just gonna have fun’.”

This kind of attitude invention is spread all over the growing canon of songs that will form Lisa’s imminent debut album. From the hyper-real fantasy of ‘Animals’ through to the darker-hewn confessional ‘So Jealous’.

Lisa explains: “Songwriting for me is usually trying to create something that will give me proof of hope, like a packed lunch for the future or something.” Yes, Lisa is just as opaque when discussing her craft as she is when doing it.

“It’s true,” she says, “I’m a chronic journal writer, so it’s kind of like when I can’t just write it down, when there has to be even more of a human element to it, whether my voice or the chords… I guess it’s like proof that I can move forward. Usually it’s about losing and then re-finding hope or happiness. Most of my songs are written around that cusp. I guess it’s a survival mechanism for me.”

So while Lisa hardly needs help as a songwriter, the chance to return to her birthplace to work with some of the UK’s most acclaimed songwriters has only widened the scope for her album when it arrives. Since touching down in London, she’s collaborated and co-written with the likes of Turin Brakes, Andy Barlow (Lamb), Sacha Skarbek (James Blunt, Adele), Craige Dodds (Sugababes, Natty, Amy Winehouse) and Sam Dixon (Will Young).

Meanwhile, two further names have proven pivotal to the making of the record. Acclaimed singer-songwriter Ed Harcourt boasts co-writing and keyboard credits, and the album is produced by Anthony Whiting (MIA, Eugene McGuinness).

“I feel a lot free-er with my music now,” Lisa explains. “I guess every time I work with someone I’m gonna pick up little habits that they do that I quite like, or just everything kind of influences you somehow. I always write a lot by myself, but I think its gonna be good for me doing co-writes. It’s like exercise for the mind. You literally cannot get stuck in your own ways because you’re constantly bring refreshed the whole time.”

Now, with roots on both sides of the world, and a growing army of fans on both sides, Lisa is ready to spread her wings share her songs of hope with them all. Sydney will remain home for now – she’s still just 17 after all, but admits: “I do feel quite a connection to London and the UK generally. I guess obviously because my Dad is Scottish so there’s that whole British thing coming across. I do feel at home here.”

And most crucially, the experience is all shining through on the songs. “Being exposed to a place like London, trying different things and experiencing different cultures is always stimulating,” she says. “Whether you like it or not.”

1 comment on “Turin Brakes write songs for Lisa Mitchell

  1. Pingback: Lisa Mitchell ‘Wonder’ album gets released | Ether Site

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