Last year, indie record label Lights and Lines launched its first Album Writing Club competition. The challenge was to write an album or EP and submit it within a month. It attracted songwriters from all different countries, genres and various levels of experience. The calibre of music was impressive and saw the likes of Mikey J win the single, My Little Dragon Girl (by public vote). To discover who won, check out the feature Lights and Lines Present ‘The Album Writing Club’.
Due to the success of the competition, Lights and Lines decided to bring back the Album Writing Club for 2023. Again, they wanted to attract artists and challenge them to write and record an album/EP in one month. The number of submissions increased, and so did the calibre of music. It was going to be a tough decision to pick out the winners.
Before we talk about who won what, there are some honorable mentions. The label highlighted artists such as The Quivering Palm, Big Greyman, Voodoo Rays, Stenpils, Hellwaddler, The MAW Experiment, J Peck and Carola Baer as ‘Ones To Watch’. It also saw James Kevin Plant, Marzihu, Holman Tait, Aye Nevo and Paper Cowboys win the Judges Choice Award. Now to the big three awards. First up:
Best Single – “Bossa Never” by Time Space Repeat
As decided by the public (with 15% of the votes), the ‘Best Single’ went to Time.Space.Repeat. “Bossa Never” offers an instrumental that blends prog elements with a sci-fi-like atmosphere that takes the listener on a journey. It slowly builds up the mood as it begins before the guitars come in to add depth and variation to the musical landscape. The layers of sound combine and weave to create this captivating soundtrack. This worthy winner is a taster of what to expect from their upcoming album.
Best EP – Black Is The Country, Blue Is The Colour By Susy Wall
The winning EP by singer-songwriter Susy Wall was inspired “from work by local Black Country poets and artists such as Liz Berry, Black Country Type and Pete Donnelly (Black Country Nostalgia)”. Her collection of songs, Black Is The Country, Blue Is The Colour By Susy Wall, is a four-track release that offers so much. There is a rawness to each track that showcases her captivating storytelling qualities. Her way with words shines throughout, excelling further on “Blue”. The other reason this EP stands out is Wall’s beautiful vocals. It helps to add so much emotion to her words, as “Heartsore” perfectly showcases.
Best Album – Fractured by Beth Sarah
Not content with recently releasing her debut album, Let Her Go, Beth Sarah created another that won Best Album. Her previous release is an alt-folk collection of songs that shines a light on her lyrical and vocal talents. For her winning album, she broke away from her usual sound and “experiment with some different genres (as well as some with my usual style)”. She called this album Fractured because of the styles of music as well as lyrically (as it talks about the various challenges in relationships)
Fractured is a smörgåsbord of sounds, with something here for everyone. No matter the genre, it is perfectly executed and never feels out of place. She can effortlessly move from a haunting mood with “Miscommunication”, delivering an empowered moment with “Moving On”, to showing off her sassy side with “Temptation’s Lair”. There are moments where you can hear how she has pushed her musical boundaries with “Playing Your Game”, which takes you to the club with its infectious beats. My favourite is “Strange”, which offers a garage/grime soundtrack and a guest rapper in support. It is an eclectic mix in the best possible way and a worthy winner of Best Album.
Part of what makes this Album Writing Club such a success is the community element that comes with it. Lights and Lines create a space for artists to talk to each other during the competition. It allows everyone to reach out for advice or get opinions on ideas. They will discuss the writing process, recording and much more. Information like this could be helpful on future projects after the month is over. If you missed taking part this year or thought about taking part, then you can, as there are plans to do it all again next year. So, if you would like to participate, check in with the Lights and Lines Record Label or their socials. The next winner could be you!