Tyrone and Lesley’s Optimism: Song by song

This is Tyrone and Lesley’s fifth album ‘Optimism’, song by song. You can read about how we wrote it here,  and how we recorded it here. The illustrations are from the liner notes of the CD version,  proudly crowdfunded. You can stream the album here on spotify or purchase from your preferred providor.

Ukulele Sunrise

This album is bookended by two instrumentals. I was hypnotized by the peaceful rhythmic difficulty of this particular riff, playing it every time I picked up an instrument. It seemed too simple to ‘be anything’, but as we were in the studio working on other things I suggested it to Sam who composed a high part over it for the double bass. Once that voice came along, no words were necessary.

I’m Gonna Dream

bedsode (2)We used this tune to conclude Tyrone and Lesley in a Spot, and employed the vintage technology of the singalong ‘bouncing ball’ to encourage the audience to sing the darkness away along with us. We first played the tune live at Brisbane’s City Hall, trialling Kellee Green’s backing vocal arrangement with The Pockets, in front of a very large audience.

We invited them into the studio to lend their lovely voices to the tune. The noise in the bridge is a long, reversed note played on a grand piano.

lyric video  live performance

Dung Beetle

dung beetleTyrone and Lesley allow the exploration of topics that might confound other singer-songwriters. Every factoid in this song is true.

The positions of the milky way and the sun or moon are recorded in a mental snapshot as it dances on its ball of poo, at least for one species. This helps it to find its way home.

This was initially just rhyme play, but there’s something about the modest proximity of stars and faeces that seems poetic. It’s classic Tyrone and Lesley in its tension between the absurd and the profound. video

Mouth Trumpet 

Mouth Trumpet’s been a fascination of mine for some time. I love the sound, though attitude and musical framing is a big part of the sound. The Mills Brothers are great at it, and I thought I’d write a tribute to all those who bombilate their chops. Sam wrote the melody. Tenori came in and recorded backing vocals for this tune.mouth trumpets

The Fly

Themes emerged as we wrote, and it seemed like we might record a subset of songs about insects. Sam composed a tune that allowed the lyric to be laid over a pattern I’d previously called ‘Yakisoba’.  I wasn’t going to include this song, but then I realised it couldn’t be left undone.

Lost Pets

T&L Hats (2)Taped to telegraph poles, pinned to community notice-boards,  I find these home-composed and manufactured notes requesting information or assistance very poetic.

The lyric was created before the music.  I put the riff together gradually, finding what I was imagining I could play in my mind was rather different from what my fingers could do. The middle bit, in ¾ time, was made up as I recorded it as an instrumental, sitting in my stairway. The lyrics just seemed to work when I superimposed the music. Once they were put together,  I realized I was servicing the idea that optimism can become hope, and that this collection of songs had a binding force of theme and content as well as form.

The instrumental coda was a late addition, which we expanded upon once we came to record it,  as Sam’s double bass part seemed like a response without a call.

There is Nothing Here

nothing-here-negI’d been working with this idea for a long time before the  song was written, trying various ways to create lyrics via the subtraction rather than the addition of text. After superimposing these as spoken words over a simple pattern  I’d written on a new ukulele, Sam came up with the tune as we stood beneath the stage in the Kenilworth Hall, waiting to go on at the Sunshine Coast Ukulele Festival. lyric video

Peppercorn

A peppercorn is a legal term which means a very small payment used to satisfy requirements for the creation of a contract – while it may be used as a way of hiding the real value of what’s changing hands, there are examples where a real peppercorn is truly exchanged. The University of Bath rents its campus from the town for one peppercorn, which is ceremonially presented very year. This is the only track on the record where Sam plays U-Bass. Apart from the shaker, the percussion on this recording is entirely constructed from sounds created from hitting or tapping a ukulele.

Moth Song

In a way this song’s more like performance art than music,  and I’ve come to suspect it’s not just about moths. A very silly set of lyrics was dignified by Sam’s melody, for a tune we then set out to play as quickly as we could. The first, live version was rather unbridled so we had another go, and that’s what you hear on the album.  live performance

light bulb

Error Message

These lyrics are composed entirely of ‘found’ words – actual error messages from our two main operating systems – which I’ve selected, arranged and sequenced over a composition of looped ukuleles, augmented by Sam’s piano and bass.  Engineer/mixer James See played an important hand in building the piece from its modest demo into its final iteration on the album. lyric video

Half Full

After seeing The Pockets play at the Coorparoo bowls club,  I was struck by how optimistic the group and its repertoire were.  I went home and wrote these lyrics, which Kellee Green composed music for. It was initially written for the group to sing in four part harmony. Sam and I play it in a much sparser version. live performancehalf full

Duo

T&L Hats (3)Sam and I created this song to open a theatrical production called The Furze Family Variety Hour, to be sung by Leon Cain and Helen Cassidy, playing comedy siblings. The companion vocal here is by David Kidd,  of Tenori. It follows a recurring theme in T&L’s songs of the bond and inextricability of great artistic duos.

Can Will Do

can-will-do-negThis tune was composed in a hotel room when Bear with Me was playing at the Adelaide Festival Centre – it was winter, overcoat weather,  and I had a new Captain ukulele to play.

Like many of the songs on this record,  the backing was recorded live in the studio.

Ukulele Moon

We used this little instrumental for our show Tyrone and Lesley in a Spot, to soundtrack a moment when Lesley leaves the stage and enters a miniature world through a bright doorway. We recorded it entirely live. video

You can stream the album here on spotify or purchase from your preferred providor.

Credits

All songs Megarrity/Vincent apart from Half Full Megarrity/Green

Recorded November and December 2016 & June 2017

Engineered and Mixed by James See at QUT Studios Kelvin Grove

Played by Tyrone and Lesley

with

David Megarrity: ukulele, guitar, banjo, percussion, vocals

Samuel Vincent:  Double Bass, U-Bass, piano, kazoo, percussion, vocals

The Pockets (Kylie Southwell, Kellee Green and Joyclyn Vincent): backing vocals on  I’m Gonna Dream. Vocal arrangement by Kellee Green

Tenori (David Kidd, Craig Atkinson, David Pryor)  backing vocals on  Mouth Trumpet

David Kidd vocals on Duo

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One response to “Tyrone and Lesley’s Optimism: Song by song

  1. Pingback: Song by Song – Tyrone and Lesley·

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