Acclaimed singer songwriter Holly Lerski released a touchingly titled new single this month called Home is Your Shoulder. Find out how she recorded it in lockdown at home – using an old biscuit tin for drums!
During the first lockdown, singer songwriter Holly Lerski remembers walking past Earlham Cemetery, along Dereham Road in Norwich, and hearing the birds singing.
What’s so strange about that, you may be wondering? ‘Normally all you can hear there is traffic!’ says Norfolk-raised Holly. ‘It was a time to really appreciate nature, as we’d been forced to slow down from normal life.’
She adds: ‘During the second lockdown I released my new single ‘Home is Your Shoulder’ and had a really special launch night online. First, I premiered a mini film about the song, made with footage from my US rail and road trip, which was a kind of prelude to the official video.
‘Afterwards I did a Facebook Live event with my sister Sam (who produced the film and video) – we chatted and sang some of my songs together, with fans adding comments and reactions.
‘Even though it wasn’t a traditional gig, there was still that same lovely, warm feeling of connecting with the audience. It felt like one big family. It was just an incredible evening.’
Her experience as she took on the open highways has informed this song full of longing and heartache, while also recognising the quiet freedom of being single and ‘on the road’.
Holly is joined on Home is Your Shoulder by none other than bassist James ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson, best known for his work with Bonnie Raitt.
During one 4,000-mile journey, Holly spent a day at Alcatraz Island in San Francisco and was struck by the relatable sense of isolation and apprehension that comes with being cut off from longstanding support and comfort, of not having the shoulder of someone you love to lean on.
That same day, Hutch reached out to Holly offering her a bed for the night when she got to LA. By the time she reached him, Home is Your Shoulder had taken shape.
Once dubbed ‘the spiritual sister of Jeff Buckley’ (Uncut Magazine), Holly deftly explores the human experience of loneliness and our need for human touch and connection in this delicate track.
Going back to where it all began, Holly has opted to release her first new material in five years on Haven Records. Her folk-rock band Angelou first released their debut EP Hallelujah on Haven – Boo Hewerdine’s independent label – back in 1997.
The intervening years have seen Holly release four albums on various labels. The most recent, The Wooden House, was recorded in her shed and picked by The Sunday Telegraph as one of the best folk albums of 2015.
The recording of Home is Your Shoulder takes a similar DIY approach. Holly and Hutch’s parts were recorded in lockdown at their homes – with Holly using an old biscuit tin for drums. Chris Pepper then produced and mixed the track at Saltwell Studio, adding electric guitar, harmonium and piano to the track.
Holly says: ‘Home is Your Shoulder is a story of beginning again. I wanted to inspire people, women especially, by the transformative power of travel. How by pushing outside your comfort zones, and breaking through that bubble of loneliness, we experience things we never thought were imaginable.
‘I was honoured to play and record with Hutch and this reinforced the message of the song – if you’re brave and open enough, new encounters always bring the new human connections we need. Along with chance encounters, random acts of kindness, strokes of luck, crazy coincidences – and music.
‘My US road trips helped me rediscover the intrinsic connection to others that we get through music. It is a two-way process that cannot exist in a vacuum; it needs to be received. So here I am, putting a little something out into the world again.’
The single is accompanied by an official music video and a short film featuring footage from Holly’s trips, with plans in the works for a podcast talking all things travel and being single.
The video is courtesy of Space Race Studios, who had perfectly captured the empty streets of San Francisco in lockdown and the feelings Holly was grappling with. The accompanying film was created by her sister, film maker Samantha Elmhirst.
Holly ends with this positive message: ‘I think this year has been a chance for us to look at our lives and be grateful for what we have, and the people we have around us. We should all focus on the bright light of positivity. It’s an amazing world.’