LIONS AND BUTTERFLIES - THE PORTRAITS
Release date: 2nd October, 2015
Genre: Folk, Acoustic
Location: London, England
Record label: Sensorypulse Records
Lions and Butterflies is the new 11-track album from husband and wife alt-folk duo Jeremy and Lorraine Millington. The real strength and beauty of 'Lions and Butterflies' is in its meaningful, heartful lyrics and strong sense of melody, it's an album which has been lovingly crafted and one that demands repeated plays. The album has the recurring themes of the struggle of individuals and the dominance of greater powers beyond their control, living in the moment and treasuring it and human connections both past and present.
The Portraits have produced the album entirely by themselves, favouring recording in vans, backstage at gigs, a ferry, on laptops and even iPhones. "Our music takes us on the road constantly" says Lorriane "so it made sense for us to record our album on the move. Beautiful strings reverberate with the sounds of our lives, from the birds outside the window, to door bells - you have to listen closely but they are there. The new album is a heartful musical snapshot of who we are". The only time in the studio was used during the final mastering at London's 'Close to the Edge' facility with renowned producer Jon Astly (Eric Clapton, Deborah Harry).
The sublime Walls of Silence starts the album with a song based on the novel 'One Day' by David Nicholls. The creative female leading character Emma comes to London full of bright ideas and buzzing with plans to conquer the city. Fast foward in time to Emma reflecting on how her dreams were smothered by the Capital. London is a place where millions come to seek their fortune, but only a very few create enough noise to cut through the hoards of similarly aspirational people who are also trying to make their mark. Sadly, so many fantastically creative people end up quietly slipping out through the back door unnoticed.....with unfulfilled dreams and aspirations. The track really resonated with us here at LCM, far to many very talented people are going unnoticed without the recognition they deserve. This was the reason we started LCM. "But now I sit a cell of anonymity....in four grey walls of silence....never mind missing me...never mind mouning....I know you'll bearly notice when I go".
Exile examines the recent events surrounding freedom of thought and expression in Russia, including the imprisonment of Russia rock band Pussy Riot and state sponsored murder. The song champions those still singing in the shadows, those who are quietly taken out when we are all facing the other way. It's a place where thinking the wrong thoughts can land you in prison for a very long time. "I can hear her singing in the shadows.....dreams of running to excile.....but outside these walls come tumbling down".
Fairy Lights is based on a flight Jeremy and Lorraine took to South Africa. As the plane flew across several North Eastern African nations, Jerermy ponders whether these were street lights or fires from the wars and conflict in Africa. Do the problems of Africa stem from it's colonial past? "Wars, fronts, rival airs, so far from our ancestors cares.....divide and rule, run away.....live to fight another day" "We'd take the lions share, let the rest disintegrate, ours is the wealth and power and divine right. We imagined away the fires that we laid, from right up here, I'd swear they're fairy lights."
Moon Song is about their baby son seeing the full moon for the first time and being transfixed. It was a perfect moment as the moonlight reflected on this fancinated young child. It was a moment that would never happen again. We are all wrapped up in the busy lives we lead and these special moments are joyous, something to be captured in our memories rather than in pictures on smartphones and camera's. "Living for the moment is fabulous, but incredibly hard to do as well."
The Cloud deals with the stuggles of anxiety and depressive thoughts. It's a metaphor for how Jeremy describes his feeling after an attack of the 'blues' or 'blacks'. As Jeremy says himself "I hope this song reaches others who may be in the cloud right now - there are always routes back to the light". "All I can do is keep my head clear of butterflies that swarm around me and form a cloud of confusion and wonder, wonder why"
Monochrome was inspired by a lovely Canadian lady Carol Spurdans as part of The Portraits 'Friday Songs' project. Carol was reflecting on her trips to Europe where she walked the cobbled streets and viewed the architecture, landscapes and sunsets that have remained unchanged for centuries. We are on the same wheel of life that none of us can chose to jump off and one day too we will be a small part of his history. We are not to far removed from our ancestors as some may feel looking at the faded monochrome images in photo albums and history books. With shared fears and loves, hope for the future and great moments of humour and despair. If it weren't for the century or more dividing us, we might even have been friends.
With it's African influences and rythm The Rest of Time was a project to record 2000 voices around the country to save lives lost to blood cancer. The song enjoyed widespread media coverage and secure an iTunes chart position in January 2015. "So many awaiting daring not to hope that someone might gift them time. Would you put yourself out for someone you don't know? Sell a day of comfort and purchase a life"
The piano and string section led Payback is a reflection on the whole idea that life is ultimately a random series of events unconnected to one another and uninfluenced by one another. Being good to others of course has huge value and is vital to the inner workings of society and human relationships. But we're mistaken if we believe that doing good will in turn protect us from harm, as tragically, life doesn't work that way.
Nostalgia carries the feeling of trying to change or relive the past but realising that is futile. It is never too late to change direction and follow your dreams and not dwell on the past.
Small but Strong is a song for the 'underdog', those in society who have no power, no voice and are not really loved. Power predominates in the hands of those who have the means to buy their way to success. "A mile above a murder of suits, put a value on love as power pollutes. Small but strong I have no control and all I ask is my share. I beg them, trust me to know what's right the too high and mighty to care."
The original idea of the acapella harmony led Stand By grew out of the terrible scenes in Syria 2012 when a leader appeared immune to the pictures of the torture and murder of his own people, whilst he stubbornly clung to power. Dictators and despots are often supported by the Superpowers and their past actions. As the international community stands by ordinary people suffer. We could really make a difference, but we need to care enough.