Cotton is available at:
London, U.K.; Milan, Italy
24th February, 2017
ONE of the things I love about music is…
the genuine characters and standout performers I come across. I shall talk about Valerio Lysander more specifically, soon, but wanted to look at prejudices and artists that have to struggle; male artists in 2017 and the types of sounds coming through; musicians whose families and backgrounds are not always fortunate. I will also look at songwriters who provide hope, poetry and thought; video-making and the importance of that; a little about international touring and artists who are settling in London and those who choose great venues to perform in. I’ll start by looking at the nature of discrimination and those who have to face prejudice. Valerio Lysander is a gay artist but is not a big part of his message – not someone who preaches or has to face that much resistance. That said, one feels there is always that sense of uncertainty and fear of being faced with resistance and hostility. Britain is a lot more open-minded than most countries but there is still discrimination and hatred. I have featured transgender and gay artists before and always find the same thing: there is always a sense they have to fight harder to have their voices heard. I am not suggesting there is a stigma attached but maybe people are not as accepting and tolerant as they should be. Lysander is someone who has seen peers and friends face the lash of bigotry and unaccepting tones. We have gay rights marches in this country and days that raise awareness of L.G.B.T.Q. persons. In music, we should have a celebration of gay and transgender artists. That is not tokenism or sending the wrong message: I feel it would be a great way of celebrating artists that might otherwise not have their voices recognised or have to struggle more than their contemporaries. As I said; Lysander is not someone who has faced quite the same extremes and hatred as many. The reason I wanted to raise this point was the fact many musicians have to face resistance and regressive attitudes. In recent pieces, I have looked at black and female artists: they struggle to get festival bookings and music jobs; still campaigning to gain equality.
In the case of Lysander; he comes from a (Italian) family that is very open-minded and non-judgemental. As Lysander says on the blog to his official website (LINK):
“Very simple things that any heterosexual person doesn’t really need to ponder on. While everybody was getting into relationships in high school, I couldn’t allow myself to fancy anyone. When my grandmother asked when I would bring a pretty girl home, I just had to smile without answering. Think about how many things are given for granted by you, but that for me were a deep stab in my stomach”.
Maybe it is not strictly related and tied to his music but I wanted to highlight the many L.G.T.B.Q. musicians that do not have their stories heard. Lysander has had to battle those fears and doubts: he has kept his ‘secret’ inside – fearful of the reaction he would receive. In music, there are many artists that have to keep their homosexuality secretive. From young artists like Ruben and Chris Selman, I have learnt a lot about the struggles they have gone through and how important the gay rights movement is. It is something we need to embrace in a wider sense but look at musicians too. There are few articles and features that celebrate homosexual and transgender artists. I will write a piece very soon on it and bring to people the fantastic music out there – from musicians whose lifestyle is often judged and prejudiced. I will move on now but know Valerio Lysander has had to face the (possible) negative reaction from his grandparents and peers. As it stands, he proudly (rightfully) mentions his sexuality and how important it is. I still feel there are obstacles and struggles for homosexual and transgender artists in music. It can be difficult revealing a sexuality that is, in some quarters, seen as taboo and abnormal. Homosexuality is something that should never be seen as unordinary and wrong. I feel too many are stuck in the Stone Age as display a Neanderthal mindset. The same can be said when we look at transgender artists. Let’s hope mentality does change and there is more attention (positive) paid to musicians who are homosexual or transgender. I can only imagine the sense of unease and anxiety many will face when revealing their homosexuality. I have seen many in the music judged for their sexual orientation: denied the same rights and access as their straight contemporaries. This has to change; we must be more open and accepting – in an industry that should value and promote equality and love more than most.
Valerio Lysander is a songwriter who has touched on his sexuality but, in his music, has an extraordinarily broad palette. I am reviewing the song Cotton – leaving interpretation until that point – but the previous single, Ryan, was about a friend who, like Lysander, is gay. There is positivity and strength that comes through in that song. The video – which I shall look at more soon – is eye-catching and hugely impressive. I love how Lysander addresses themes and people who would not normally be included in songs. In terms of subject matter; too many, as I keep saying, are obsessed with themselves, and their love lives. It is sad seeing a heart broken but there is limited relevance and sympathy one can apply to another’s break-up. People have a tribal attitude that means they protect their family and loved-ones. In that spirit, how many are invested in a musician’s personal love woes? Sure, many can empathise but I find it quite selfish keep going on about your love life and how damaged it is. Those who decide to intersperse personal concerns around wider, less selfish songs are always going to win my favour. Lysander, as one hears in songs like Cotton and Ryan, pens beautiful songs that make you think and resonate. In many of his previous songs, one detects a true poet who brings Italian romance and classical heritage with an eye on the modern world. Based in London, he cannot help but see how the city and its people interact. One feels a real spirit of London (and a large city) emanate from his music. More than that, one gets a sense of a young man with a unique and full soul. Yes, Lysander has faced challenges and carries burdens: he has had to tackle heartbreak and struggle like anyone else. Rather than wallow and dwell on that; what we get from his music is a sense of unity, spirit and positivity. Even if the instrumentation can, at times, seem quite sad – there is never a sense of pessimism and defeat. It is wonderful listening to an artist like Valerio Lysander and watching him develop.
His latest single is, in my view, his strongest work: Ryan and Cotton are two of the most solid and emphatic statements he has ever released. You listen to the songs and get images and put yourself in the story. It is impossible being unmoved and uninvolved. The words are quite simple but have a very honest and open sentiment. Ranging from deep and profound to beautiful and raw: a songwriter who can write from the heart without alienating or seeming suffocated. I can discuss his lyrics all day and just how important they are but wanted to talk about Lysander as a complete artist. The compositions are different, brilliant and pure: you have romantic edges and strength; a real combination of emotions and sentiments working alongside one another. When one hears those detailed and deep words, it is highly likely the imagination takes you somewhere special. Coupled with Lysander’s powerful and emotive delivery and you have songs that differ vastly from most artists. I hear a lot of mainstream acts aim for something intelligent and affecting but often come off misguided and insincere. I am pleased Lysander continues to record and pushes himself with every song he creates. Behind each is a great story that leaves an impression in the mind. Ryan was a song that really affected me – and the tale and origin behind it was fascinating – and the same can be said of Cotton.
I shall come on to looking at Lysander’s current single soon but, for now, just wanted to look at video-making. For previous track, Ryan, what one got was a Go Out of Tune-shot promotion that saw balloons, a colourful studio and so many captivating and memorable scenes. A song like Ryan calls for a sense of festival, loyalty and memorability. That is what you got in the video. Cotton, in the same vein, is not exactly a phoned-in and predictable video. I always love the visual aspect of music and appreciate musicians who take time and effort in their videos. There are so many who find videos a pain and chore. In a modern age where YouTube and other video-sharing platforms are an essential promotional tool; it is not too good enough ignoring that aspect and assuming it is unimportant. On the contrary, you have to put in a great video as that will attract people in. Lysander always brings it when it comes to videos. I have watched others he has filmed and you find an artist keen to tell a story and capture the imagination of the listener/viewer. Music is no less a visual medium than, say, film or T.V. Live performances is a visual medium and videos certainly are. If you create a video that is low on effort and originality that will affect the way the song is perceived. I know budgets are low and most artists have little money to spend on videos. That is not to say you cannot create something wonderful with a few hundred quid, let’s say. I adore those big-budget videos but they are reserved for mainstream artists and legends who have that kind of cash to splash. I see loads of charming, lo-fi videos that employ basic technologies but manage to come up with something arresting and stunning. Lysander, one imagines, does not have an endless kitty – the coffers a little bare for videos. He relies on the kindness of creative and friends and being as economical as possible. I love Ryan’s video and those variegated scenes and lovely images. Cotton is a different beast but one that shows a consistently engaging and ambitious musician. Again, I will write a feature on music videos as I feel so many are overlooking it and producing such lacklustre and predictable ones.
Before I come to Cotton, I want to talk about touring and how venue and location can be really important. Lysander has some great dates coming up but has performed in Italy and Europe. Based in the U.K., Lysander is one of those artists who has acclaim from Italy but a great fanbase here. I feel many artists are keen to cover their country but often do not look to other nations. Like video-making, perhaps touring is another expenditure that is a dream and not a reality. When you get popular, you can start to look abroad and the places you can visit. That said, nations like France and Italy are very welcoming. I have seen bands tour Poland and Russia; many do well around the U.S. (who are based in other nations). It is a vast planet so think musicians should cast their sights further afield. The live circuit in Britain is wonderful but I, if I were a musician, would jump at the chance to play internationally. I think it is not so much budgetary constraints that hold back artists but that insular circle. They often tour in their countries and concentrate on the home crowd. As a London-based journalist, I would often be tempted to interview people here and do features in this country. I am in the position where I hear some great international acts and would leap at the chance to feature them. I would be keen to explore other nations and think a great deal of Europe is unchartered. Italy is a fantastic nation to play with cities like Venice and Milan providing some fantastic crowds. Look at France and it is not only Paris that provides ample performance space – the city itself is a crucial one I feel more British acts should consider. Maybe a trip to Australia or Japan might be a bit costly but are two nations that are rich in fans and places to play. Even in terms of British locations, many artists are still sticking to obvious areas like London. I have a great affection for Yorkshire and know the county is overrun with wonderful venues and people. Glasgow is a huge city and one that welcomes in fantastic musicians. Even if you are a U.K. artist, there are so many different places to gig.
I raise this point because I feel musicians should get themselves to as many people as they can. I see some new acts and their relatively low social media numbers and wonder if a part of the problem is their inflexibility. I know Lysander is somebody who has performed around Europe and has other dates on the horizon. He, like many musicians, has a sparse budget and cannot afford to flit off to the U.S. and Asia when he feels like it. That said, he has been very wise with his money and ensured he gets his music out to the masses. I mentioned how he has that dual citizenship between Italy and Britain – in terms of his music, certainly. I am looking forward to his future and just where he brings his music. I shall touch on this later in the review but feel it is important for artists to expand their horizons and get out as much as they can. Of course, every act loves to perform and wants to gig as much as they can. It is their main, sometimes only source of revenue and vital for many reasons: sharpening your skillset and connecting directly with your supporters. Too often, technology and social media replace actual human contact so it is vital to promote live gigs as much as we can – preserve venues and ensure new acts have somewhere to play. Lysander has seduced large parts of Italy and Europe and is busy in the U.K. right now. I look at new acts who focus rigidly in the big cities and wonder if they realise how many music fans there are around the nation. Maybe counties like Yorkshire and Devon might not seem packed with great venues and locations but, the former especially is rife with fantastic places and wonderful people. Getting to as many counties/locations is important in the sense your fanbase increases but you get to various parts of the country. If you are too narrow with your geography and itinerary then you do run the risk of having a shorter musical lifespan. As I say, I will go more into that in the conclusion.
Lysander is based in London now and seems to be taking full advantage of the city and what it provides. He is getting a great reaction from the people and bedazzling with his music, incredible performance talent and a fascinating backstory. I have mentioned some of Lysander’s past and history but suggest more people connect with him and see where he has come from. His story is really interesting and he brings a lot of that into his music. Certainty, one gets something very different and rare with the Cotton creator. I do bang on about London a lot and often see it as the epicentre of British music. Although I am fond of the city I am finding myself more drawn to Manchester: the lower prices and same dynamic and mixed population as London. I digress, of course, but am not getting commissioning mentioning London. The reason I bring it up is because many artists are settling there and finding a very receptive and broad audience. Yeah, it is expensive and does put many off settling there. Take away the negatives and you are left with a city buzzing and progressing. The landscape is changing but the quality of the population is unwavering. There is unity and kinship among the people; a real sense of fraternity that extend into the music community. Venues are not only surviving but starting to thrive. We all hear horror stories of London’s dwindling music scene but I am seeing many venues open up. It is important because more and more hungry musicians are coming to London to seek appreciation and support. I have very little time for those who slag London off and say it is a hostile and cold place. You get some offhand people but no more than any other city. What, I think, defines London is the varied boroughs and the mixes of races and religions one can connect with. There is an, almost mystical, energy that hits musicians and compels huge creative spurts. Lysander is a creative geyser and London-pleaser. He is bonding with the city and seeing his fan numbers here rise by the day. I am really pleased for him and know how hard he has worked to get where he is.
Ryan is a song that impressed me and showed a real songwriting talent in Valerio Lysander. Follow-up Cotton is just as strong and, if anything departs from its predecessor. Although Lysander is an accomplished songwriter, he never repeats himself or tries to replicate what has come before. The opening bars of Cotton place that piano in the forefront. In explaining the song, Lysander sees it as a moment of confusion and transformation. About five years ago, he was wrestling with his identity and who he was – going through different shifts and unable to discover who he really was. Someone in his life showed him the image of cotton: something that unravels and changes but keeps its shape throughout. That powerful demonstration made Lysander realise, despite all the confusion and change, he was who he is and the same person underneath. Knowing that; the delicate and romantic piano notes make sense. It is a really touching and stirring introduction that has that cotton-like image: something floating in the warm air and making its way through the landscape. You float along with the song and drift through the sky. When Lysander comes to the microphone, that voice matches the softness and beauty of the piano. In a way, that voice reminds me of two people: Jeff Buckley and Patrick Watson. I get embers of the latter coming through strongly: the Canadian singer has entranced many with his breathy and falsetto-laden songs. In a way, Lysander has some influences on his sleeves but you think of nobody else but him. Whatever his origins, you are pleased to hear a male singer who can project that sense of etherealness and transcendence: it makes the song powerful, gorgeous and vivid. I was starting to imagine the hero walking the floor, searching for answers. The lyrics look at changes and whether (any transformation) would be noticed. Whether he is speaking to a friend or addressing himself; he is that thread of Cotton being transferred from pillar-to-post. I am not sure what has brought about this searching and questioning: maybe moving from Italy and being uprooted has been displacing and raised this issue. I was fascinated hearing that velvet-soft voice melt with the piano. It is almost Classical in its majesty and sound.
I know Lysander has performed this song with different configurations. Sometimes it has guitar or piano; others it has orchestration and is much more stirring. I can see what he means when you hear the song. It suits a Cinematic Orchestra-esque composition that fuses luscious strings with something epic and dramatic. In its current form, it is backed with a bit of strings and has just the right balance of emotional and powerful. That Patrick Watson sound comes through but does not take away from a song that is unique and very personal. That idea of recognition and change keeps coming back. The video reflects the weighty emotions and struggling conflicts. Figures, including the hero, are painted and look pensively into the camera. As the song progresses, I was more immersed in the song and the sheer grace and beauty that gets into the heart. I emphasise with the hero and his conflict with the self – not knowing who he really is and trying to find some sense of balance and roots. He knows, when he tries to change the shape of cotton, it will remain the same. It does not matter how turbulent and physical the outside world is: when it all calms down, you will be the same person. It is important, for Lysander, to know, whatever happens, he is who he has always been, deep down. Take what you will from that but I feel, for someone who has had to wrestle with many things – family, identity and purpose; sexuality and revelations – it must have been a really tough few years for the Italian-born songwriter. You would never detect any anxiety in a performance that is steeped in affection. Previous lines drill to the bare nakedness and heartache: “Sometimes I feel like I’m nothing more than flesh/and I feel the heaviness of being human and limited”. Those lines are quite revealing but, I guess, something we all feel: that inability to see the good and whole picture; limitations are natural but something we’d rather not admit. Later, as that voice becomes more entrancing and the compositions swim over you; Lysander is toasting a marshmallow and smelling its sweet essence – he wishes he could change his flavour and taste without losing who he is.
Previous track, Ryan, recounted separation from his dear friend: not wanting to be separated and not having affections returned. In a way, this seems like the aftermath of that story. You sense a man who has put his heart out there and had it crushed a little bit. Lysander’s voice is potent and meaningful; it rises and strikes but always has that sense of control and sadness. Maybe the song is more cathartic than I give it credit for. Having undergone such change and anxiety in the past, I sense someone trying to make things better and understand what and who he is right now. Cotton is a powerful song that will have every listener thinking about their own lives. The hero yearns to run naked in the street: not be concerned with thought and humanity; abandon his inhibitions and not have to think about things. So many modern songwriters are too concerned with love and relationships. They never take time to look at themselves in a deeper sense. I have not heard a voice like Lysander’s for some time and it is great to bond with a singer that creates such an effect. It will be great to see hear Cotton live and see the various versions available. As it is now, one hears a blend of Classical sounds and Baroque-Pop. Maybe putting some brass or horns in there would add new dimensions; a sting of electric guitar in the chorus or accentuated percussion. There are so many options availability which gives Cotton a mobility and chameleon-like quality. Lysander can change it up when he feels like it and give the song fresh nuance with every performance. Whatever you take away from the song, and you will take something from it, it will stay with you quite a while. I was amazed by the sheer passion and quality of the song. Knowing some of Lysander’s previous material I was not surprised to hear such a fantastic track. This all leads to a future that will find the London-based musician make big steps and get his music to some big stations. I am not sure whether national stations like BBC Radio 2 and ‘6 Music have played his music but it seems ready-made for them.
I have talked about Cotton and the past work of Valerio Lysander. He is gracious and intelligent but has a very raw soul that has seen pains and had to deal with bad days. Not only has he handled those hard moments with dignity and fortitude but managed to mollify that anxiety through enriching and beautiful music. I was meant to, originally, write about Ryan but, with a full diary and all, Lysander has already released another track by the time I got to him. That said, I have looked back at Ryan and love the story and origin of that song – I want to talk more about that before I finish things here. Cotton is an extraordinary song that has really struck a chord with many. Tidal Metal Head is his 2014 and, from that time, we have seen a consistent and daring artist produce some sensational songs. I am keen to see how Lysander develops in the coming years and what albums he releases. Clearly, there is a very solid fanbase that wants to hear new music from the songwriter. Gathering inspiration from his personal life and friends, you have a musician that is always inspired and never fails to produce original and deeply thought-inspiring compositions. You hear his lyrics and that voice and are involved in the song: it is impossible to let it just wash over you and not feel part of the song. That is a hard trick to pull off and something a lot of musicians are incapable of. The more Lysander settles in Britain – whilst keeping his heritage and family close at heart – the more music will come from him. I am not saying he is someone who only writes about where he is from and the people he encounters but London must give him food for thought. The sheer volume of humans and different faces must spark something in his mind. Tonight, he plays Old Truman Brewery in London and will return there tomorrow night. That space (or the Black Eagle Brewery as it is known) is located in Brick Lane and located smack-bang in Tower Hamlets. Brick Lane has always been a part of London that mixes all sorts of languages and cultures.
There is that big Asian and African vibe but you get so many different cuisines, scents and colours when you walk down Brick Lane. Tower Hamlets is becoming gentrified but not one of those areas, like Peckham, that will see a complete overhaul. It is distinctly East London and mixes the working-class/less glamorous with independent coffee chains and a hipster crowd. Two nights at that wonderful brewery location will bring in some new fans. Look at Old Truman’s Brewery from the outside and it seems quite ordinary and inconspicuous – it sort of effortlessly camouflages into the East London skyline. You get inside and take a good look and you’ll find a wonderful location that is proving very popular for musicians. In the creative heart of East London, you’ll see a mix of businesses and creative catching the Tube to Tower Hamlets. I am drawn to the area because it shows the polemic nature of London: the gentrified, middle-class people/businesses with something urban, real and distinctly London – the tenements and hard-working folk who make the city what it is. It is, as you’ll see, a perfect place for Lysander and his music. Naturally, he has other gigs and I am curious to see where he will be playing through 2017. As it is festival seasons and warming up; one wonders whether he will get any festival attention – maybe playing on one of the smaller stages? Whatever he has in mind, I know we will be hearing a lot more about Valerio Lysander. The musician has played gigs where he has raised money for Water Aid: that ethos and attitude is to be commended. I hear so many musicians supporting charities and causes which really does lift the heart. I am not suggesting all new artists need to do this but being connected with charities and those less fortunate can do wonders for the creative process. I see so many artists see injustices unfold but never really learn from it. That being said, many do take heart from issues and write about them in their own way. For instance, someone like Lysander will hear about the plight of those who fight for things we take for granted – one suspects that will hit him hard and compel him to put pen to paper.
I have touched on sexuality and L.G.B.T.Q. artists in music; how they often are reticent talking about their lives through fear of judgement and persecution. There are a lot of people in the world who never reveal their sexual orientation, even to family members, because they are afraid of the response they’d receive. Valerio Lysander was in that predicament but spoke with his family and told them he was gay. It is hard enough for gay/transgender people to discuss sexuality/gender with loved ones, let alone strangers. There are doubts in music just how much equality and open-mindedness there is. We are in 2017 but still in a position where there is segregation and division. Black and minority artists are not given the same attention as white acts; women are still subject to sexism and struggle for festival spots and music jobs – something I have talked a lot about recently. If there are imbalances in regards gender and race then one can see sexuality is another issue we need to address. I am not sure how much-observed discrimination there is in music but I am not seeing a lot of journalists celebrating L.G.B.Q. artists and throwing the spotlight on them. Some might claim if there is no oppression and discrimination then do we need to do this. I feel there is stigma and pressure for these artists but would argue against this assertion. Lysander is someone who has faced a hard time coming out and one can only imagine how anxious he would have been. Rather than wonder whether L.B.G.T.Q. artists have a fight on their hand, regardless of any negativity they face, highlight them because if creates awareness and positive exposure. In a music world that is not as evolved and forward-thinking as it should be; I feel discussing L.G.T.B.Q. artists is important.
As I type this, I have just heard Sampha performed a live set on ‘6 Music. His album, Process, is already being tipped as one of the best albums of this year. One imagines it will get a Mercury Prize nod later in the year. It is celebrated because of the incredibly soulful vocals and lyrics that deal with hard themes – the death of his mother and hatred he has encountered – but turns them into transcendent, spiritual hymns. The piano is high in the mix and so too is spine-tingling effect one feels when listening to his music. I have only just discovered Sampha but intrigued by the South London writer/producer. He is someone with a big future and one of the finest songwriters we have in the country. He remind me a lot of Lysander. I am not tossing out superlatives but feel both artists are phenomenal good and two of the finest artists in our midst. Whilst each treads a different path and drinks from different wells of inspiration, they have common blood. Both, one feels, have shouldered a lot of hurt and loss; each has seen and encountered negative voices and judgement but have channelled this sadness and anger into beautiful, atmospheric songs. I wonder whether both are aware of each other but there is definitely similarities between the two. I long to discover more artists that have a fascinating backstory and music that speaks to the heart, mind and soul. I wonder whether Lysander is planning another album later this year – Cotton is the newest single from his latest album – but one imagines there are ideas and plans in the back of his mind. Many are hungry for his work and connecting with a wonderful talent.
I’ll complete my review by looking at London and artists that bring relationship dramas together with personal, unique themes and create something wonderfully rich. Valerio Lysander, as his blog postings show, talks about his family and where he came from. Artists that let you into their past and who they are about are essential. I get fed up with artists who have a few social media pages – many do not stretch themselves across the most important sites: SoundCloud, YouTube; Facebook, Twitter; BandCamp and Spotify – and do not reveal anything about themselves. They say the music does all the talking but that is fobbing us off. Sure, every artist reveals a bit about themselves in the songs but that is not good enough. You are not stripping yourself naked if you tell us where you are from and what your songs are about; who your idols are and a little about your life. Mainstream artists, by and large do, so new musicians have no excuses. In fact, if you want to get to that level you have to get over yourself and give the new listener something to take away. Lysander is one of the most open artists I have heard has discussed his parents’ and grandparents’ homes and life. In an older blog post, he wrote:
“My mother has sent me a video showing my father’s house. Huge cracks on the walls, pieces of plaster cover tables, beds, floors, walls are cut open. I can’t imagine how scary that has been for them who were sleeping peacefully, woken up by the noise of their home falling on their heads. My brother with his newborn son, I can’t imagine the fear”.
Picturing those scenes (and cracked walls) is something many of us cannot comprehend. It is a vivid and harrowing realisation many of us have had hard upbringing. Maybe it is a generational thing but it seems the older generations had a much harder life. Lysander went on to say:
“She’s telling me of all the places I used to go when I was a child, that are no longer. Buildings without roofs and walls, towns without buildings and people. I hurt inside, thinking of all my memories, I have been there, and I will never be able to see the same landscape. I hurt, thinking about the fear all those people have, the earth still shaking under their feet, aftershocks still striking. My father can’t sleep at night, with my mum and other 40 odd people, lying at night in the hall of a restaurant that has offered the space for the people without a home”
“My family has been lucky, they were far enough from the epicentre, their home was solid enough not to collapse over their head”.
He is thankful for the life he has and how much better his things are now. That said, there is that fear (that) things can unravel and fall down. He explains it, thus:
“Many people haven’t been as lucky, I grieve for them and I pray that when they’ll have another chance they won’t be angry for the way they had to quit this game. I hope they will come back, or go somewhere else, with the understanding that life is nothing but a warm flame that a simple gust of wind can extinguish and that we have, as humans, we have to cherish the warmth until we have it”
Not only does one learn about Lysander’s family and how his ancestors have faced hardships; you get an important message from all of this: life is capricious and random so we must take all the good we can and be grateful for any opportunities and good days we have. That mantra not only resounds in his heart but is radiated throughout his music. He is an artist who cherishes every chance and moment he gets; puts his all into music and is unafraid being honest and vulnerable with the listener. Past songs like Ryan have come straight from a very personal and, at times, troubled avenue. Lysander has addressed his sexuality and how he, and his subject Ryan, share that bond. I shall not go too far into a song I am not charged to discuss but wanted to highlight how different Lysander’s work is. You do get romance and matters of the heart (in his songs) but his speciality is discussing deeper and much more important people and themes.
I shall leave things in a minute but will finish by looking ahead for Valerio Lysander and London as the Muse. I know I wax lyrical about the capital any chance I get but am, as I have explained, becoming attracted to Manchester and her significant charms – that allure and addictive heartbeat is one that resounds to the beat of my own. I am getting into pretentious/wanky territory but want to explain I am not part of the tourist board for London. My point is how beneficial it is for musicians and conducive to inspiration and productivity. The city is exploding with talent and eager young voices: artists who are taking from the people and sounds of London and turning that into stunning music. It is not a stretch to say London is one of the most important and influential cities in the world. I am hearing so much diverse and kaleidoscopic music emanating from all four corners of the city. Valerio Lysander has that European background and brings that passion and personality to the rush and vibrations of our capital. He is getting some greats gigs and has performed at some brilliant locations in the past – including a session at Jason Odle’s Ont’ Sofa. Aside from a few capital dates, the next few months are very much open. I would expect some more London shows but would be great to see Lysander traverse the nation and perform widely. I keep mentioning Yorkshire and feel the county would be very hospitable and receptive of his music. I will end this by congratulating Lysander on an incredible track in Cotton. That, coupled with his previous material, shows a body of work as impressive as any out there. I am compelled by his story and personality and feel obligated to follow him closely. I have been proffering female artists lately and been a little cynical of the quality-potential of their male peers. Every now and then you get artists that buck my cynicism: that is very much the case with Valerio Lysander. Let’s hope he continues to create beautiful music for years to come and encourage a unity and togetherness…
IN a divided music world.
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