Til They Bang on the Door
"So, about that album title….”
“It’s the ‘neighbors telling you to turn down the music’ moment. It’s the magical hour,” explains Lucy Woodward. “It’s that moment when anything can go right or wrong.”
A perfect summation for Til They Bang on the Door, a slinky, brassy and decidedly sexy record that marks a bold, new direction for the singer.
Bang is the culmination of a long and decidedly varied musical journey for Woodward. The daughter of two classical musicians, the singer spent her childhood, as she puts it, “music-making and creating.” Fresh out of school, she was singing jazz on Bleecker St. for tips, singing in cover bands and writing songs before signing with Atlantic Records—a time period that saw her score a Top 40 hit with “Dumb Girls” and another Top 5 hit she wrote for Stacie Orrico called “(There's Gotta Be) More to Life.”
But Woodward had no desire to be a pop starlet: her follow-up, the jazzier Lucy Woodward is...Hot and Bothered, produced by Itaal Shur (Santana, Maxwell) and Tim K (Tiny Hearts) was released in a unique indie arrangement with Barnes and Noble. This, in turn, was followed by Hooked!, an album of Brill Building meets swing-styled songs, released on Verve and produced by Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T-Rex).
Along the way, Woodward toured as a band member filling in for the lead singer of Pink Martini. She has also recorded with Rod Stewart, Celine Dion, Carole King, and Joe Cocker. Her songs and vocals have been heard in movies including What a Girl Wants, The Blind Side, Music and Lyrics, First Daughter and Ice Princess, featuring the Betty Hutton/Bjork classic “It’s Oh So Quiet."
Bang marks Woodward’s long-awaited solo return, her first album in six years. “It took a while, but I knew where I wanted to go with this record,” she says. “And I knew who I wanted to work with.”
Looking for “crazy, low brass instrumentation with feminine vocals,” she paired up with an all-star recording cast, featuring co-producer Michael League (Snarky Puppy), co-producer/ keyboardist extraordinaire Henry Hey (David Bowie, George Michael), engineer/mixer Nic Hard, organist Cory Henry and core musicians from Snarky Puppy. “I loved collaborating with some of the best musicians in New York who also happen to be dear friends. I’ve worked with them all over the years,” she says. “I had been touring with Snarky Puppy which is what sparked the whole concept. In pretty much one Skype conversation with Henry, Mike and I, we knew where this was going to go. I wanted to surf on a wave of horns.”
Lyrically, the record is Woodward’s most dramatic, offering moments of both melancholia and wild abandon. “Much of Bang is me coming out of a breakup and not having the money for therapy,” she says, laughing. “It’s being not quite ready for another relationship and seeing the beauty within that stage, too. But hey, I’ve always written sad love songs, even when I was 12, before I even knew what love songs really were.”
The unfolding romantic twists and turns Woodward embraces on Bang is matched by the dramatic fits in her music: opening with the Shirley Bassey-style “Ladykiller,” the album segues into upbeat pop (first single “Kiss Me Mister Histrionics”) and one guaranteed live singalong “Be My Husband” (recorded with the ever-soulful Everett Bradley) before ending—like the moment after a big storm settles—with the beautiful piano ballad “Free Spirit.”
You may recognize a few tracks: Ruth Brown’s “I Don’t Know” has been part of Woodward’s live arsenal for years, as well as a new take on “Too Hot to Last,” featuring a trombone choir as a backdrop for the piece. Originally the song was performed by Woodward with Snarky Puppy on their 2013 Grammy-winning Family Dinner (Volume 1) album.
Bang is Woodward’s first release on GroundUP Music, the breakthrough indie label started by Michael League (a co-producer on Bang). “Being on GroundUP is no comparison to anything else I’ve ever done,” she says. “There’s no A&R person saying “Do this or do that.” We all just want each other to be happy. We all have this idea that as long as the vibe is great, and with the right dynamic, anything is possible.”
Woodward plans to hit the road soon, performing for one of the most diverse fan bases in modern music. “I can see an audience growing with me,” she says. “When I play live, there are fans from 10 or 15 years ago bringing their kids. But now, I’ve been exposed a bit more to the jazz world and from working with Rod Stewart and they are all incredibly supportive.”
“I’ve never worked so hard in my life!” she admits, after juggling tours with Rod Stewart and running home to finish recording the album the past couple of years. “Four records in, and I can tell you, it’s been a rollercoaster. But what other choice do I have? You have to love, love, love what you do so much. And I do. It’s kinda cool that I still surprise myself.”
Not leaving her with time for a lot of those, well, “magical hours.”
Lucy Woodward Bio (2014)
London, 1970's. An opera singer/bellydancer/musicologist young woman meets a classical conductor/composer young man and make a baby who couldn't escape music if she tried. Born in London and raised in Holland and New York, she escaped . . . right into music. Singing jazz for tip jars and meals on Bleecker street, waitressing, cover banding, jingling, waitressing, songwriting, background vocalizing and waitressing were all a part of the journey. Parents fully behind the sitch. In a nutshell, this happened . . .
Lucy's Atlantic Records 2003 debut album allowed her to tour internationally and garner significant press exposure, including a spot on Jay Leno's "The Tonight Show.” An award-winning songwriter, Lucy has written and recorded songs for several film soundtracks including the Golden Globe-winning The Blind Side, What a Girl Wants, Last Vegas and her favorite, Ice Princess, with her rendition of Bjork/Betty Hutton big band cover "It's Oh So Quiet." Lucy’s second album, Lucy Woodward Is . . . Hot & Bothered (2008), got high praise from critics. (“A steamy, string-kissed slice of retro British pop by a versatile singer/songwriter‚” proclaimed USA Today, while Billboard described how “Lucy's a ball, equally appreciable for fans of melodic sing-along baubles and highbrow aficionados of finely honed musical composition. A sonic turnstile that flips through dreamy pop, jazz and bluesy bebop”.) In 2010, Lucy signed with the legendary jazz label Verve Records and released her third album, Hooked!. Produced largely by Tony Visconti, the album effortlessly moves across multiple genres, including gypsy-swing, jazz and rhythm & blues. Along with her self-penned compositions, the album showcases Lucy’s stunning covers of Peggy Lee’s Cuban-inspired “Sans Souci” and an a cappella Hoagy Carmichael classic, “Stardust.” Songwriter’s Monthly said Lucy brings a "sultry intensity and scorching sensuality" to her bluesy jazz/pop performances – “a jaw-dropping listening experience."
Lucy was featured as an “International Artist to Watch” in the all-important September issue of Italian Vogue in 2011. She spent the better part of 2011 touring across the North America, both has a solo artist and as the special guest vocalist for the superstar act, Pink Martini. In preparation for her first string of summer jazz festivals with Pink Martini, Lucy was asked to learn songs in Croatian, Japanese, French, Spanish and Turkish in five days, the Montreal Jazz Festival being the first. During that tour, she sang three dates with the San Francisco Symphony, inspiring kernels for her next record, which she wanted to be full with lush string and horn arrangements. The Ventura County Star called Lucy “An effortlessly engaging, deeply expressive vocalist and an insightful, charismatic and disarmingly witty songwriter.” In 2012, Lucy toured overseas sponsored by Armed Forces Entertainment, performing for American military units stationed in Spain, Italy and Turkey. She has toured with the funk/jazz/world band Snarky Puppy (them as her backing band) and was featured on their 2013 Grammy award-winning Family Dinner album on the song "Too Hot to Last." Much touring and recording with Snarky Puppy and her own band inspired her fourth record, produced by Henry Hey (George Michael, David Bowie) and Michael League (Snarky Puppy).