Bill McGarvey | Broken Lullaby

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Broken Lullaby

by Bill McGarvey

"Reminiscent of The Beatles, Matthew Sweet, Everly Brothers and Ron Sexsmith mixed into one rich sound, McGarvey's pop is smart and endlessly enjoyable. And, yes, he did do it in the kitchen. And the living room." Performing Songwriter
Genre: Folk: Folk-Rock
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1. Broken Lullaby
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Broken Lullaby, like Bill McGarvey's solo debut, Tell Your Mother and its follow up, Beautiful Mess, strike a fine balance between DIY grit and soaring pop sensibility (Tell Your Mother was included on numerous end-of-year "Best of" lists). McGarvey continues to write first-class songwriter’s pop reminiscent of The Beatles, Matthew Sweet, Everly Brothers and Ron Sexsmith mixed into one rich sound. His pop is smart and endlessly enjoyable.

Broken Lullaby marks the beginning of a different chapter in the songwriter's creative output. "It became really obvious that the album--a format I grew up loving--was no longer an effective way to release music" he says. "Essentially, we live in an attention economy now, where we are deluged by media and information overload every waking moment. Getting people's attention and asking them to focus on your music over 13 or 14 songs for an hour is more of a commitment than most people are willing to make. In many ways it's a return to the days from before I was born when music was being driven by singles instead of albums."

McGarvey has been a lover of film and animation for nearly as long as he's loved music, so he decided he'd rather create a short film for each song and release them one at a time instead of compiling a whole album's worth of tunes at once. "I always loved what Tom Waits said about music and film 'songs are movies for the ears and films are like songs for the eyes'" he says. Broken Lullaby was his first release in this new vein and the short animation he directed along with animator Stella Rosen, available on YouTube, has won numerous awards and been selected for over 30 film festivals from Los Angeles, New York and Liverpool to Manchester, Milan and Australia.

And, yes, he continues to record in the kitchen and living room.

"I live in these railroad apartments in Hoboken, where it's basically rooms stacked up on each other with no hallways or anything," he explains. "The Pro Tools was set up in the living room, and I had a big window looking into the kitchen, and I just set up the drums in there and recorded it that way."

"Like any record, it kind of came up by necessity. I had a band called Valentine Smith that made a bunch of records in the '90s and we'd done pretty well. The band broke up and I was just sort of stuck thinking, 'Well what next?' What do you do if you still want to write songs? If you can't stop writing songs?"

McGarvey broke out a cocktail drum kit he'd bought a while before (did we mention he's a drummer?) and set to work. "The singer/songwriter/guitar player becomes its own cliche sometimes," he says. "But the drums were my first instrument since I was a kid, and it just made sense to do my own songs and the singer-songwriter thing with the drum set to see how it works." It worked well enough that he's now fronting his band with the cocktail kit live.

As a songwriter and recording artist, McGarvey does his best to shorten the distance between inspiration and execution, thus holding on to the immediate energy that comes with the first flush of a new song. "I'm a big fan of just putting down any idea and then going back a week later and seeing if it's still worth looking at. There are those great hazy moments where you're not sure where your brain is going when some great ideas come to you. That little kernel of inspiration that starts you is what you have to keep going back to. What interested you about that idea? What keeps it interesting and fresh? Sometimes it's those wonderful little gems that come to you. They're gifts you don't deserve. You should be thanking somebody you don't know."

This exuberance and openness to free inspiration can be heard plainly on his albums "Tell Your Mother" and "Beautiful Mess" as well as McGarvey's video singles. Even when his melodies are at their most melancholy, there's a joy and irresistible force that informs them and creates an honest balance between lush and spare, between pop and poetry.


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