Like the Sea

Like The Sea

The sea, I feel you like the sea,
deep inside, yet so far away.

I cling to every word you say,
you stole my heart, please give it back to me.

Could it be that it was all just a game to you?
Am I really such a fool?
Don´t you feel the nearness of us?
Life without you is just a rainy day.

Time plays tricks on our minds.
Still I hope there´ll be for us a time.

Anjù is Anja Graefe, a singer songwriter from Ulm, Germany. Anjù recorded Like the Sea at her home, and perhaps that’s part of what gives the song such an intimate sound, but most likely it’s Anjù’s voice, which is quiet, often just above a whisper. The lovely acoustic guitar part and bare bones bass line that accompany Anjù’s spare and sophisticated vocals offer the perfect amount of support to both singer and song.

Anjù‘s smooth voice has just the right amount of inflection and vibrato for contemporary folk, jazz, and even blues. Her approach to blues on her digital album The Attic Sessions is especially refreshing; there are no snarling or guttural sounds that all too often hit the listener over the head because they’re just not, well, snarly or guttural in the right way. Anjù on the other hand sounds a bit like Fiona Apple might sound if she were drifting off into a dream . . . Maybe even a little like Nora Jones. Anjù also tips her hat vocally to some of the icons of jazz, but possibly Chet Baker more than anyone. Just Get Lost, The third track on The Attic Sessions made me smile.

You can get Anjù‘s digital album The Attic Sessions on her bandcamp site and I suggest you do. There are quite a few songs that are just as good as Like the Sea, and all have the same sparse arrangement of voice and guitar. All the songs on The Attic Sessions, whether they’re bluesy or jazz influenced, are evocative and atmospheric, and Anjù’s voice has a lovely, subtle musicality that invites the listener in. Enjoy.


Pomegranate Waltz

Every time I pick up my guitar, I play. I don’t just copy and repeat music that somebody else thinks is good. I play what’s inside me. That’s what I mean by thrumming. When the vibrations of the music make your soul vibrate, you feel the thrum.

The above quote is from an adorable book I read last week about two teens who connect to themselves and each other through music.

Guitar Notes by Mary Amato is a well crafted story perfect for tweens and teens who are serious about becoming musicians, or who just want to understand the process of getting drawn into playing and songwriting. I’m not going to review the book here, I’ll just say that there’s a touch of tragedy, but basically the book is a celebration of the power of music.

The book includes lyrics and chords for the songs that the two main characters write. Pomegranate Waltz is the first song that the young musicians write together.

I like the sound of your name in my ear 
I like to hear what you have to say 
I’d like to pay attention to you— instead of doing what I have to do. Oh…  

Now something inside me is ready 
Something inside me is ready 
Something in me’s ready—oh—here I go… 

I like the way that our time intertwines 
I want to design each day so we can meet 
Each word a seed that’s hoping to grow—no need to hurry. Let’s take it slow. Oh…  

I like the shape of the thoughts in your mind 
You’ve got the kind of edge that I seem to need 
And if you feel the world doesn’t care— I’ll send a message. You’ll know I’m here. Oh…

Mary Amato lives in Silver Springs, Maryland. She’s is an author, a musician, and a teacher, and I wish I’d had someone like her in my life when I was a kid. My own artistic journey was not nearly as tidy as the trip that Amato’s characters are on (one of whom is actually named Tripp) and maybe that’s why I loved the book so much. If only I’d had a copy of it when I started dreaming of becoming a musician . . .

Guitar Notes includes actual notes that the characters produce during their songwriting sessions. The notes show how the songwriting process might work through brainstorming, trial and error, etc. This is an excellent way to show the critical thinking process that goes on when writing a song and a very clever way to show children how they might go about this process. (There are no mistakes when you’re writing on the back of a napkin, I always say.)

Go to Mary Amato’s website for info on the workshops she offers, and songwriting tips.

Oh, and give Guitar Notes to every kid you know who plays an instrument.


A Song for the End of Summer

It’s amazing, what can be done in a bedroom these days. Musically, I mean.

But first, meet Tom Humphries, from the UK. Apparently Humphries is a chef now, but before that played in several bands. I think, perhaps he should get back to it.

Listen to Out There Somewhere and let me know if you agree, Tom Humphries should be Out There Somewhere: on a stage, in a coffee shop, in a club.

It’s pouring rain here in New Jersey and the sky is white. Maybe it was the same in Sheffield when Tom Humphries wrote Out There Somewhere. Even with the upbeat acoustic guitar that reminds me of John Mayer, and the hint of Latin rhythm that provides a sense of warmth, there’s something bleak about Out There Somewhere. Something in Tom Humphries voice that is slightly empty—in a good way. It’s the same starkness that I’ve heard in Van Morrison’s voice, in Joseph Arthur’s. It’s like what I feel now, at the end of Summer.

The sweet background vocals from Andrew Jameson on Out There Somewhere provide another bit of beauty, as well as a nice foil for Humphries’ bare voice.

Now, I know you’re still wondering about the bedroom (caught you) so here you go: Tom Sheffield in a bedroom recording a song about his father. It’s hard to believe just how good the sound quality is. It’s also hard to believe that Humphries wrote the song Father just before he recorded it. It’s lovely and real, and if you’ve ever tried to write about a parent or a family member without the piece collapsing under the weight of sentimentality, then you know how tough it is.

I was blank, a blank slate
You can draw, decide my fate
Follow you round, in your wake

I been off the tracks, and I have steered
Away from love, floods of tears
But all the time, you’ve been here

I told my father I can grow
He said my boy, just stay close

So I say, what do you know
And I say can you show me
How to be, a better man than me

Nowadays, I feel strong
I need to thank you, you’ve helped me along
The twisted path, I’ve been on

You’ve seen me change, you’ve seen me curse
When things get tough, I come to you first

I told my father, you take care
Whenever I need you, you are there

So I say, What do you know
And I say can you show me
How to be, a better man than me