• Belle & Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch presents his new musical project ‘God Help The Girl’, self titled debut (LP/CD/digital available June 23 on Matador Records in North America, the previous day in Europe on Rough Trade), preceded by a single ‘Come Monday Night’ (May 11, via Rough Trade)
“Come Monday Night” –
• Features an array of singers, including Stuart’s discovery Catherine Ireton, Asya of Smoosh, Neil Hannon of the Divine Comedy, the other members of Belle and Sebastian and a 45 piece orchestra conducted by ‘Withnail & I’ composer Rick Wentworth.
‘God Help The Girl’ is a story set to music, which Stuart Murdoch has been working on intermittently for the last five years, its origin in some songs that were written while Belle and Sebastian were touring ‘Dear Catastrophe Waitress’ in 2004. Stuart explains:
“I was out for a run and I got this tune in my head and it occurred to me that it wasn’t a Belle & Sebastian song. I could hear female voices and strings, I could hear the whole thing, but I just couldn’t envisage myself singing it with the group.”
As more songs emerged, a shape and theme began to develop, before the music was actually recorded, or the vocalists found to take on the parts.
“All the time I was touring with Belle and Sebastian, I was putting aside songs for certain characters,” he says, “and at one point I realised, that it would make sense to string them together to form the backbone of a musical narrative.”
The hunt was then on to find some great new voices to put to use during the recordings. A competition where singers could add their vocals to the demo recordings of ‘Funny Little Frog’ and ‘The Psychiatrist Is In’ was posted on the iMeem social networking site and attracted around 400 entries. From these, Brittany Stallings (Olympia, Washington) and Dina Bankole (Jackson, Michigan) came to Glasgow in February 2008 to rehearse and record some parts, Brittany making the lead vocal part on ‘Funny Little Frog’ her own.
Among those who auditioned early in the process was Catherine Ireton (above), who had moved from Limerick to Glasgow, a friend of a friend, who had previously appeared on the sleeve of Belle and Sebastian’s last single, ‘The White Collar Boy.’ She took on the lead vocals for the majority of the songs on the record.
The recording continued during 2008, with a total of nine different singers (including Neil Hannon from the Divine Comedy and Asya from American teen trio, Smoosh) joining the members of Belle and Sebastian over the course of a few months. During this, Mick Cooke’s orchestral arrangements were recorded in London with the orchestra before the finishing touches were applied in Glasgow.
The result is a breathtaking record from one of pop’s most singular voices, combining the strengths and feel of the early Belle and Sebastian records in a broader musical palette, which draws equally on musicals, sixties’ girl groups, eighties’ indie and, most of all, classic pop records. And, in Catherine, Stuart has found a rare talent – her clear, lilting vocals bringing to life the characters in Stuart’s imagination and making for an ambitious and engrossing musical journey
Tracklisting / Vocalist
01.Act of the Apostle – Catherine Ireton
02.God Help The Girl – Catherine
03.Pretty Eve In The Tub – Stuart, Catherine
04.A Uniﬁed Theory – Instrumental
05.Hiding Neath My Umbrella – Catherine, Stuart
06.Funny Little Frog – Brittany Stallings
07.If You Could Speak – Catherine, Anna Miles
08.Musician Please Take Heed – Catherine
09.Perfection as a Hipster – Neil Hannon, Catherine
10.Come Monday Night – Catherine
11.Music Room Window – instrumental
12.I Just Want His Jeans – Asya
13.Iʼll Have To Dance With Cassie – Catherine
14.A Down and Dusky Blonde – Dina Bankole, Catherine, Celia Garcia, Brittany, Asya
Preorder information for the Matador edition(s) of ‘God Help The Girl’ is forthcoming in this space very soon.
(God Help The Girl official site)