“Hello folks Scrolling Back is my new single a powerful and personal song about the end of a relationship.
“Lockdown was a period of creativity and collaboration for me and songwriting helped me get through this time of personal change.” I hope you enjoy my new single and thank you for supporting my music.”
The heart and art of great songwriting is authenticity and genuine emotional connection. There are some songs and voices or phrases that send tingles down my spine. That move me, often to tears, every time I hear them. Reliably so. These are my 100%ers. This song has all of those elements.
So add to Cloudbursting, Stupid Thing and Love Song, and Bowie singing ‘let me put my arms around your head’ or ‘we should be on by now’, Scrolling Back by Sharon Lazibyrd.
I have started the review on keyboard and in my head numerous times. I have thought about the absurdity of trying to describe the emotional experience of listening to this song and its story of a relationship ended, tugging at my own heart strings. I have reached for that much ridiculed and oft misattributed (to Zappa, he did say it, but he himself was quoting), quote about ‘dancing about architecture.’ So I shall confine myself, mostly to the facts, and do my best to convey my feelings whist I am listening for ‘nth’ time, and try not to get tears in the keyboard. This a pure belter as our songwriting group would say.
I’ll start by declaring an interest. Sharon and I have shared a songwriting group during lockdown so I have heard this song develop from something thrown into a phone to this magnificent yet simple production (Props to Jonni Slater, another group member and fabulous writer in his own right). Our careers have bumped into each other many times since we met in 2011. You can read about that if you wish in my artist profile of Sharon to be published in a day or two.
It starts with simple piano (Jonni again) with just the right amount of reverb. Sharon enters and sets the scene, a wistful note, of hopes dashed, of memories that are painful and bitter sweet. A strong clear voice though, reflecting the power she has found in difficult times, the strength she has had to have. The melody is a delight too. Great use of note length, changes in pitch, and building, building, building and we’re into the beautiful chorus. Underpinned by Sharon’s own violin and then viola and then double tracked voice as we’re into verse two. The song is building, the emotion heightening, the tragedy confronted, the denouement, the let-down, the pain, the disappointment.
The subject matter is as old as humanity, the twist is the addition of technology. No longer do we have to rely on fallible memories as social media documents each twist and turn of the pleasure and the pain. Still building, simple ABABAB and at three minutes we get the break. We’re back to that gorgeous piano and voice. Maybe a little slower, maybe not. Maybe just the finality of the words and the apt metaphor of the instrumentation for the loneliness of goodbye. And the last note. Now we have slowed down, the intimacy and breath of that last note lingers as the last piano chord fades underneath. I am reminded that the notes we leave out as writers are as important as the ones put in.
For me it’s genius. The tingle of the spine. The authentic emotional beauty of a writer reaching the height of her powers. 100%.
The keyboard wiped dry. It’s time to scroll back and play it all over again.