The evolution of singer-songwriter Lesley Pike’s musical journey takes centre stage on November 4th with the release of Wild (vol.1) via Fontana/Universal Music. The Recording Artist’s fourth disc, which will be released in two volumes, is an accumulation of confidence and drive as well as an all-important focus: producing and creating music on her terms. The result of her ambitions? Thirteen stunning recordings which represent new heights in Pike’s song craft—ranging from the personal into the universal. Take, for instance, "Bar Américain”. The song chronicles Pike’s powerful storytelling abilities by way of her lyrics, which share memories of a real-life romantic encounter she had in a bar in London, England. Lines such as “we run with wild abandon / with whiskey on our breath and in our veins / we talk like we have got forever / but we kiss like we’ve got no time to waste” provide a stool-side point of view into Pike’s elations and emotional epiphanies.
This same type of intimacy can be heard in songs such as “Home” and “Tall Tales” which convey conversational anecdotes via lyrics and vocal delivery reminiscent of folk-country-pop greats ranging from Dolly Parton and Father John Misty to Jenny Lewis and Aimee Mann. Both “Home” and “Tall Tales” dig into Pike’s internal dialogue, making listeners feel as though they are being held close in Pike’s confidence, much in the same way an old friend would be.
“I wanted to write a record that digs a little deeper and looks inward, staying away from that fast superficial digital world where people are quick to write lovers off, cancel villains and immediately look for red flags,” she says. “These songs are about taking the time to open up and discover yourself and others.”
Another giant leap forward for Pike is the album’s blend of sounds. Wild certainly lives up its name, unabashedly basking in modern and traditional folk composition while grangerising verses with rock-and-roll edges. Crunchy, electric and pedal steel guitars compliment Pike’s riveting melodies, delivering a mix of bittersweet lyrical punches and ethereal notes. While Pike’s prior discs–such as 2015’s November and 2018’s Honey & Rust–spoke directly to her classically trained beginnings, Wild lets-loose and brings in a fuller power of a band to support her. “I wanted to hear that sense of community and collaboration happen organically in the recording, and I was able to record a lot of it live off the floor, in what I would call a dream scenario with people that just played off each other".
Having recorded the 13-song collection largely in the United Kingdom in various settings including a converted Norfolk Studio that was once a WWII ambulance station, an industrial warehouse studio in Leeds, and finishing up at the legendary Abbey Road studios in London, taking the lead on production for much of the album was something Pike insists changed the game. “It gave me so much freedom and space for the music to develop in a way that didn’t seem forced or rushed: it felt like it was natural. I felt nervous but excited to produce myself because I could take more risks and open up in ways I hadn't before. In the past, I always thought people knew better than me, so I would give way…. this time I’ve realized I don’t have to outsource—I can tap into who I am for the answers.”
This sense of liberation is woven throughout album stunners such as “Boy From The North,” and “Cedar” which build on Pike’s multi-octave voice and take advantage of her top tier crew of vibrant musicians, including drummer Luke Bullen (KT Tunstall, Joe Strummer, Roxy Music), Bass player Matt Round (James Morrison, Natalie Imbruglia) and CJ Hillman (Billy Bragg, Graham Nash, Laura Marling).
At the centre of Pike’s latest effort are her starkly personal lyrics—which define the album’s transformational themes. The album’s glorious title track, “Wild”, showcases Pike’s self-assurance and insight, with amplified drums and majestic vocals showcasing her breadth, a range of tones which soar from tender and compassionate to fierce and poised from chorus to verse. Another standout, “Dear John”, continues to surprise listeners as it flips the script on the clichés a Dear John letter usually brings up, offering instead a wish list of dreams, desires and ambitions.
“Instead of a revenge or angry song, I wanted to write a letter to myself and I suppose to my imagined partner ” she says, “to strip back the fantasies and understand who I am a little more and what it is I truly want in a relationship,” Pike says. “Ultimately, I think we're all looking for a sense of belonging, and that's the thread that weaves this collection of songs together. My last album, Honey + Rust, was about a bad break-up and being in a dark place, I think this album is about the resilience and perpsective that comes from working through the pain and opening oneself up again”.
Songs such as “Paper Thin,” and “Six O’Clock News” follow the same path, questioning and challenging the perceptions of modern love. The latter track was inspired by witnessing a performance of a play at the Almeida Theatre in London called The Hunt, adapted from Thomas Vinterberg’s film about an innocent man wrongfully accused by his community. The production was so impactful, it pushed Pike to see it again and then write “Six O’Clock.”
“I like writing about juxtapositions, and finding the humanity in people and situations; what we do and why we do it, I find that endlessly fascinating", she explains. “and art that forces you to look inside yourself, art that makes you relate to the unrelatable… that kind of art motivates me.”
By allowing herself to be so open and vulnerable to mining into her own experiences via song, Pike’s Wild is set to motivate others. Her compositions and performances on the disc epitomize her trajectory as an artist and a woman: exploring the emotional terrain of both roles with a sensitivity and complexity that is bound for acclaim.
Written by: Elio Iannacci