These days, with all the music available to us in every genre imaginable, there are few artists who give us all something to hold on to. It’s a surprise when we’re stopped in our tracks by something reflective, beautiful and lasting. Last December, London-based artist Larry Mindel released his debut album Love in Troubled Times—a masterclass of evocative story telling in thoughtful, folk-jazz ballads. And now he’s followed it up with a new single, ‘Whisper The World Away’. We caught up with Larry Mindel last week.
First, for people who don’t know you, who actually is Larry Mindel?
Great to start with the big existential questions…. tell me when you find out! Seriously—I’m a songwriter from London. I’ve been around quite a while, playing in bands, and acoustic setups, usually in small clubs. I enjoy those venues most, because I can make a personal connection to each person listening. As an acoustic musician, I like to hear each heart beating in the room.
So intimacy matters to you?
Yes, because my songs are stories—they are about people in places where the landscape shapes them and their attitudes to life. My songs are set in Suffolk, in Yorkshire, in the Hebrides, in the Australian Outback, an old dance hall in New York, a garden in the Bronx, the top of Hampstead Heath in London overlooking the city. My songs are about people I have met who belong in these places. I try to conjure up their spirit and where they live.
‘Whisper The World Away’ is quite an ambitious track…and subtly different from Love in Troubled Times…
Yeah, I think that’s true. The album was made in very difficult circumstances: it was recorded largely live, in lockdown, in rural Kent, socially distanced. That brought its own challenges—everyone played and sang in different spaces in the same studio. Also, just as we were starting, I lost someone who was very dear to me. So the whole atmosphere of the album is affected by that—for me personally, in a way, the album became a tribute to her. Also, these were my first songs written on piano. I think that album has set the bar high for what follows.
For ‘Whisper The World Away’ I wanted something a little different and an even richer sound. The song is about that time in our lives when we move from being carefree, to taking on responsibilities and even maybe a family. It’s about welcoming that—being both excited and anxious about the changes. So I wanted to reflect this in the actual sound, not just the lyrics.
I had in mind a classic Three Minute Symphony—lush, always changing, sweeping, brooding. So I turned to the fabulous Italian producer Matteo Galesi, and a young virtuoso strings player Joäo Silva from Portugal, who lives in Barcelona. We managed to craft a rich, warm sound that I hope draws people in.
It certainly does! What does this mean for the direction of your music now?
Well it’s been a crazy 9 months. On the one hand, lockdown. On the other I’ve written so much, and found new ways of working… recording in different countries, working truly collaboratively, edging away from guitar and mostly writing on piano. Working with new musicians and producers. Those are big changes anyway.
I love working with Matteo, and we’re finishing up our next track, recorded together with a fabulous pianist and a superb percussionist. That’s more groove-based, but again it’s about real people I have met and a place I love—on the south coast of New Zealand, which I left as the first wave of the pandemic was hitting us all.
And there’s a huge stack of songs I have in demo mode, just waiting to be turned into things people might like to hear!
And what’s your best hope for 2021?
It’s actually quite simple. I really want to get my music to people who might like it. I’ve been so astonished by the wonderful reception to both the album, and the single, that I feel I owe it to myself and others to focus on sharing what I do. Then, people are welcome to make their own judgment and decision. Is it for them? Does it mean something to them? Would they like to hear more?
Watch the video for the new Larry Mindel single, ‘Whisper The World Away’, here: