Historically, the power of poetry is that it can tap into our deepest emotions and somehow paint a picture through the power of words that feels personal to the reader despite the fact that it may have been biographical in nature. The power of brilliant song writing is very much the same. The songs that endure are the ones that become important to us; the reason we remember lyrics from songs is that they feel very personal. Sadly, brilliant lyrics don’t always translate into streams, downloads or commercial success unless they are set to great melody and beat. Liv Austen’s new single ‘How Things Change’ manages to achieve both these things and so deserves to become part of our personal soundtracks; the fact that it includes such moving and emotional lyrics and is also catchy and uplifting continues Liv’s musical journey in a brilliant and classy fashion.
I have followed Liv Austen for a long time and been lucky to see her play live several times and so I know how talented she is. I have seen her grow in style and confidence as the years have passed and this new song somehow manages to encapsulate both a personal journey and musical development perfectly in just over three minutes. Sonically, it builds from silence to a stunning fanfare which emulates the personal journey that Liv shares in the lyrics. The lyrics could not be more personal and start with the haunting and heart-breaking opening line, “I used to think I was nobody, I used to think that I had no voice” but then as the production builds so does the message of positivity. By the end of the song, it is stridently uplifting and the message has transformed from one of futility to one of fertility.
“I can hardly get through the song without some tears, they are happy tears though. The song is about how much I have grown in confidence-and how I don’t even know what happened. But that’s also the point, you can’t predict what’s going to happen in your life, or how things- and you- are going to change. It’s beautiful not knowing, and I’m encouraging people to embrace that with me”
The production that starts with a single lonely voice and builds to a crescendo of sound is a beautiful journey which perfectly echoes the lyrical journey from “you still believe I should sit in silence, while all the others make the noise” to “now you all listen when I sing”. That opening section is a rare glimpse into the fragility and vulnerability of creative new songwriters who must sometimes wonder how to make their voice heard above the noise of huge label power and the flock like nature of musical download. The next lines of “I didn’t think I was worth loving, because all I knew was being used” is one that shows how easy it is to undervalue ourselves when we start to see ourselves through the eyes of other people’s opinion, albeit it a reference to personal love stories or the way musicians can feel powerless and unloved when they start to view themselves through the desperately unfair lens of commercial success. My job as a musical writer is to try to shine a light on the talent that doesn’t have the juggernaut like support that huge label’s and money can bring which sadly make us only focus on the popular and I personally find the lack of interest in a musical article that I have spent time on desperately demotivating so I am hugely empathetic to how much harder that must be for an artist that has always written from the heart and always released quality music. I found this song and its positive lyrical message personally uplifting and I hope it’s beautiful message will have the same life affirming power over everyone that listens to it.
I have always believed that worrying about things is a fruitless exercise as we are rarely derailed by things we have spent time worrying about; it’s invariably the things we didn’t see coming that blindside us when we least expect it on a sleepy Tuesday afternoon. Liv perfectly sums this feeling up in her lyric, “I kept feeding the beast of worry” and hints at the importance of not handing down a culture of worry to our children by following that with “…that was handed down to me”. The song builds to a positive gospel like fanfare which follows her sharing of the lessons she has learned, “If you let go of what was in your past then it won’t last, I used to hide behind everything, now you listen when I sing, You’ve got to let your predictions go”.
This positive message of letting go of worry, self-doubt and lack of self-love and embracing the uncertainty and excitement that things can change and that they can change for the better is one that is perfect for the first Summer out of lockdown and one that deserves to be embraced. Liv says she cried happy tears when she wrote this song and I can honestly say I felt my eyes turn misty as the song built to its beautifully positive crescendo. This song reaffirmed my belief and positivity, it has become my personal mantra and I hope it becomes yours. The most important love in life is self-love because then people will see that light shine out of our eyes and it will help them embrace the future. This wonderful song encourages us to learn the lessons of the past, yes, but to be able to let the past go and move forward. Thank you Liv Austen for this stunning release.