SINGLE REVIEW: ELLA CLAYTON – MURMURATIONS

If the title of Ella Clayton’s new single ‘Murmurations’ is unfamiliar, it’s the word for the incredible aerial displays starlings perform at dusk before they roost. The song has an exquisite, slow burn quality that begins simply with just voice and guitar, and progresses as if making a fire and waiting for kindling to catch. Lush strings appear as the first glimpse of orange and then there’s full ignition as the whole band comes in.

Clayton says she struggled writing the lyrics to the song saying: “I began writing the lyrics about something very personal to me, addressing a specific person about an experience we had shared and all the things I wish I’d said at the time. But I kept getting stuck with the lyrics, weighed down trying to get at the truth of the thing.

She came up with an ingenious solution to this and “asked a few friends what they would say to that certain person (we all have one, maybe more) that you wished you’d said at the time – with the idea of broadening the narrative, making it more inclusive. Their responses were beautiful, and the song wrote itself after that. After it was finished, I realised it was an Ode to Brighton as much as anything else – I left a few weeks later.

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Although the song maybe a lament for things unsaid, it is free from mawkish sentiment. With lyrics inspired by her own life but voiced through her friend’s experiences it turns a singular sadness into a collective experience and this adds more depth and resonance for the listener. The idea of murmuration is echoed in the vocal curlicues that Ella Clayton throws out from time to time. The tune darts and swoops in a manner that reminded me of the quality and acrobatics of The Cocteau Twins’ Liz Fraser (if she had performed with The Staves), and the beautiful lilt of the line “All the things I didn’t say. Maybe it’s better that way” is worth hitting the repeat button alone.

NB: You can see a murmuration captured here on the National Geographic’s YouTube channel)

‘MURMURATIONS’, LYRICS:

Hello, how have you been?

Where to begin, it’s been so long

But I’ve been catching traces of your face

In different places where they don’t belong

I know, you were in town lately

For a weekend by the sea

But you didn’t call me.

Did you see the starlings murmurations by the pier?

As the sun set in?

Cos I’ve been waiting tables

And whenever I am able to I drift away

Rehearse, replay

All the things I didn’t say

Maybe it’s better that way

So, you moved away –

Paris you say, but ain’t it burning?

Funny how the world is turning

Time the tyrants trumpet blurting

March in line

I’ve been waiting tables

Saving pennies since last april

And I dream the day away

Rehearse, replay

All the things I didn’t say

Maybe its better that way

Time is evil

And all the beautiful people are out

Im wretched

Burned out

All rags and misery

And woe is me

Its all the things I didn’t say,

All the ways I made you pay

All the reasons its still raining

Maybe its better that way

Time is evil

And all the beautiful people are out

Im wretched

Burned out

All rags and misery

And woe is me

Its all the things I didn’t say,

All the ways I made you pay

All the reasons its still raining

Maybe its better that way

Ella Clayton socials: Instagram | Facebook

Review by Paul F CookKeep up to date with all new content on Joyzine via our
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