‘Broken to be Rebuilt’ EP Commentaries

WK 1 // TK 1:

H o s a n n a 

Hosanna hinges upon desperation, fear and the faint hopefulness for a lifeline. Bluntly, passages of these last few years have been very difficult. Life has its seasons; and for all of us there are, and will be, challenges. It’s ‘just’ a matter of holding on — though, just as physically holding on to something can be tiring, mentally holding on can be emotionally exhausting. I think we all have an inert, beautiful fragility; but feeling weak, we’re told, in society, is not okay — we should be strong, beautiful, perfect, powerful… but this notion is a toxic lie. The truth is: we’re not perfect, but we’re all worth so much. We must know, and so eventually feel, that we are valuable — and enough — just by being.


I address the concept of a God, and this is something I still struggle with. I have many questions, doubts, concerns, anger and hurts. I think a faith is needed to believe in a God, and I think a faith is needed to not. For me, living contentedly with God is hard; sometimes I feel akin to Judas: wishing to sell my faith, or my reasoning, for something else.


I wrote this song whilst practising alone on the organ. It is such a powerful instrument; the bass pedals at the feet add an extra dimension, and the stops at either side of the manuals can accommodate a broad timbral palette. I made the most of this dynamic spectrum, orchestrating it in parallel with numb, or wild, desperation. At the end point, I included a few [tom] drums to give it a kick, literally, at the end. Recording with Matt Duke, [10Man Productions], was fun; lots of microphones were placed in different spaces around the church building. A microphone was even put quite near the pipes, via what pretended to be a large cupboard; this picked up so much of the mechanisms, which were reminiscent of factory noise.


I was pretty humbled when Hozier tweeted me to say he heard ‘Hosanna’ at midnight on the radio and really liked it; I’m a big fan of his, and am excited to hear more of his work. Sometimes I still listen to ‘Hosanna’, because when I have no will, it expresses my cry to God for more Joy, and less darkness. (Literally, from the Classical Hebrew: הוֹשַׁענָא, hosanna means “please save”.)




P.S. Companionship is one of the most vital gifts. Love is the blood flow to feel alive.


l y r i c s :

God if you’re here; come and bend your ear.

The world has become dulled and I can’t feel anything.

I have lost my shadow.

The lights have gone home.

Tired worry for the ’morrow.

I walk alone.

Love is betrayed by my kiss.

Weighed silver and stones for this.



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WK 2 // TK 2:

N i g h t i n g a l e


As I write this, I am at the River Lagan; it’s the first time listening to Nightingale, by the water’s edge.

As I sit, the row of trees behind me whisper and sigh; rowers’ blades cut against the current; and wheels-on-tracks screech within Central Station.


It gave me shivers to listen again — although I had also come out without a jumper.

Nightingale was written as an addressed response to the darkness I felt, and sometimes still feel.

Here, the idea of freedom is non-existent: the cluster chords of the piano breed only captivity and isolation.

It is a methodical and calculated composition — like a ghost going through the motions of human activity.

A door guards its room; I am the door, broken by the current, reduced to drift-wood.

Towards the conclusion of the song, there is a cry for a Hope, which is to be found within the Nightingale.

But hope soon becomes swallowed up, and quickly turns to a night in gale, or, a gale in the night; for this defines the struggle: hopefulness, caught in a web of despair.


This song speaks of an internal war. Last week was National Suicide Awareness week. Suicide is not selfish, nor does it need to be meticiulously understood — people just need to be listened to; people just need to feel they’re needed and that they cannot let go. One of the greatest, and hardest, things we can be in this world is a good friend; but this alone might just save a life.


l y r i c s :

Never knew my heart could beat so cold.

Never knew my lungs could feel so old.

Eyes closed, sheltered soul.

Running on the rocks i cut my knees,

Laughing in the face of open seas —

Young, fearless and free.

You hit this heart like a drum.

Wind, air in my lungs.

But as the sun sets and darkness seeps,

The cashing of the waves they knock, knock beat;

Who’s there, drumming me?

Wooden mind and a drifting heart,

this door’s now driftwood’s sum of parts –

Your current drowning art.

You hit this heart like a drum — beat.

Wind, air in my lungs — breathe.

Nightingale, sing.

Night gale, blow in my soul — sing —

You hit this heart like a drum — beat.

Wind, air in my lungs — breathe.

Oh Nightingale, sing to me


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WK 3 // TK 3:

P a w n s


In every way, Pawns is harsh and honest, with an external cryptic coating. I don’t want to speak too much of its meaning.

Ultimately, Pawns exposes my fear of being nothing but a pawn sacrificing its life for the King, in a world which is nothing more a game — and at times, a game I see as hopeless. As in Nightingale, I consign that I do not so much Hope directly, but rather cling to a hope in Hope.


Yet, I see there is much more goodness alive here than pain and suffering. And although some darker things cannot just leave our thoughts, good things can still enter and spend a long time frolicking inside our ‘cerebrum playgrounds’ (don’t laugh! yes, I am keeping in that analogy…) I choose to look and marvel at the good people — the ones I know (or knew) personally. I even like to imagine all the good people who once lived that we are never told about. This process helps to re-orientate living and who I imagine the King to be.


Musically, Pawns is almost exclusively a vocal piece. My intention was to enhance the vocal inflections within the phrase: “just pawns” electronically, therefore emulating the kick // snare // hi-hat network of the drum kit. The piano’s role is to play a recurring riff in the refrain sections. I co-produced this with Matt, of 10Man Productions, and he added in the feedback magic.

The layered vocal choral ending is my balm to you, and to me. Take from that what you will.



l y r i c s :

i’ll sing – i’ll sing to you of my love –

Of how we played cards – and i bluffed.

The queen – queen of hearts –

Left me with clubs and spades – and i fold.


Dealt – dealt me Your love and hope –

But silence Your 2D spoke – near stained glass eyes.

Do i stab – stab my spade through Your white flags –

And runaway from You – and with my love.


Are we just pawns, in your game?

Are we just pawns, for the King?


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WK 4 // TK 4:

B r o k e n   t o   b e   R e b u i  l t


Broken to be Rebuilt intends to illuminate strength in the face of weakness.

BtbR describes a separation from self. The beginning line: “Like the tide without its moon” describes being alive whilst simultaneously feeling absent and without.


The phrase, ‘broken to be rebuilt’, initially occurred to me when I tried to fix an old childhood toy. In a last attempt to get inside towards the components, I cracked open its plastic casement with a hammer. After replacing the batteries — and still no life emerging — I concluded: better to have smashed it open, and tried to make it work, than to have left a “perfectly fine” toy unusable.


BtbR references a dark place. Wholesome love becomes a lifeline; accepting, and knowing within that we are loved, unconditionally, is what’s going to help create pieces for missing spaces. I began writing this track back in the summer of 2011. In August-time, my sister, Jasmine, was in India; she sent over a phrase she’d written — not knowing necessarily why:

“She walks blind led by despair

To Grief and Sorrow’s darkened layer.
When in youth she dared to dream

That Love is powerful, Love redeems.”

Restoration. I could starkly see a place for it — it fitted in with the faint foundations already laid down in BtbR — so I asked her if I could use the stanza. This is why BtbR is such a powerful song for me: whenever I had no vision for Love, Jasmine was able to encourage me to lift my head, and look towards it, at least. Anyone who knows me knows I’m close to my family; this is just one example of why. I’m very grateful for them. And friends, too. We need people.


As human beings, we constantly go through a mental growth // renewal process; I liken this to a reptile shedding its skin as it grows. This song never ceases to bring me a blunt comfort. It doesn’t sugarcoat life. And for me, that’s a huge relief. Instead, it’s always offered me something within its melody that keeps me clinging along with it. Things get better, I am told; so it’s just about persisting, and continuing, until that time. I hope, to you, BtbR gives a sense of peace and hopefulness.



l y r i c s :

Like the tide without its moon,

Is a life without her light.

She walks blind led by despair

To Grief and Sorrow’s darkened layer.

Oh my God.

To lose your heart,

Is to lose your home.

When in youth she dared to dream

That Love is powerful, Love redeems.

Undone jigsaw she’s in pieces;

Puzzled by the picture, she says:

Oh my God.

To lose your heart,

Is to lose your home.

Broken to be Rebuilt.


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WK 5 // TK 5:  

H o m e


‘Home’ is as abstract and peaceful, as it is blunt and unnerving.


I wrote the track back in 2011. Around this time, I had already begun to feel tired of living. I had little energy; my mind had slowed; my body was in a state of conservation. I wanted to be free; I wanted no more suffering, undesirable emotions, or self-inflicted pressures. So, as much as ‘Home’ can be understood as a peaceful song, it is actually about a longing for death — not for a bleak absence — but some sort of new world, where I could finally be unchained.


The piano introduction uses the ‘tintinnabulation’ technique, theorised by Arvo Pärt; it comprises two ‘voices’, each representing very different characters — dichotomies, really. Towards the end of the piece, I include a sea sample which I recorded from the little beach beside Portbalintrae one dying, summer evening. The sea has always been a source of strange comfort to me; I think this is because so much of it is true to life: the ebb and flow; the rhythm; the storminess, the calm; the current, the buoyancy.

‘Home’ is cavernous, and feels a little empty; it is a longing to be elsewhere.



l y r i c s :

Lead me to the place You call Home;

Let me go on wings like eagles.

Come, to me Grace;

Come, to me Love;

Come, be my Hope.


4.75"x14.25" 3 Panel CD Tri-Fold Template

Broken to be Rebuilt [EP, 2013]