“I’m not lost, I’m in the wilderness.”
Into the Wilderness | Song Profiles with Eliza Delf and Jon Loomes
Track 1 | Howl
“I’ve stepped out of a cage that I made…”
Eliza Delf: A jaunty, confident pop song with dark lyrics, embellished with dramatic flourishes, and culminating with breathless urgency. The vocal performance is steeped in danger and drama – and this permeates the arrangement and tone.
The song describes a search for a more authentic identity, free of a self-imposed straitjacket. It is rich in imagery that captures the sense of release and freedom that comes from accepting oneself in all one’s messy complexity – it’s about growing up without giving up.
Jon Loomes: Eliza's dramatic storytelling demanded something beyond generic pop production, so I began with the orchestra first (working from Eliza's piano sketch), adding the Drums, Bass, and Guitar quite late on in the process. This quickly established itself as a good working method and most of the album was approached this way, usually piano and strings first, then woodwinds and brass for colour and emotional depth. I've also used a Finnish folk harp called a Kantele for its beautiful and distinct chiming sound.
Track 2 | Stealing My Fear Away
“Those with the eyes of a child can’t lament, they’ve seen nothing destroyed.”
Eliza Delf: A folk elegy, graceful and heartfelt. The underpinning deep bass drumbeat gives it the air of a solemn march. The song captures the desire to find freedom from the fear that prevents us revealing and enjoying our true self.
The refrain in the verses echoes William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience in which he explores “the two contrary states of the human soul”.
Jon Loomes: I've always liked Blake. His Songs of Innocence and Experience express complex themes in the honest language of childhood. As with folksong, there is no sense of naivety, and we are encouraged to read between the lines. Gentle strings, a solo flute and some percussion underpin the vocal and allow it to shine, while a guitar ripples like wind on the water.
Track 3 | Wavelength
“There’s no need to escape the moment, the moment is sunny.”
Eliza Delf: A lullaby for grown-ups – channelling a nostalgic children’s film soundtrack vibe. An understated waltz, with swooping strings, and the musical equivalent of walking bare foot on the beach.
Childhood memories of carefree days at Waxham and Stiffkey on the Norfolk coast. The bittersweet poetic lyrics and intimate vocals capture the sense of peace and tranquillity that we all reach for when faced with the stress and turbulence of adult life.
Jon Loomes: Sea salt, sandals, and a bucket and spade. Old cine footage of donkey rides and the playground roundabouts by Hunstanton Beach. I kept the strings light and airy, adding a harpsichord and a mellotron for a little vintage charm. An Edwardian gentleman plucks a ukulele as a hundred years of holiday makers enjoy a precious day in the sunshine. Edwin Beasant's cymbal work in the middle eight perfectly captured the sea spray breaking over the shingle.
Track 4 | If She Were To Fall
“Oh, she let him spin her round, they were dancing on the edge.”
Eliza Delf: A folk noir ballad that imbues the sing-song lilt of the melody with an eerie undercurrent of foreboding – a warning to the unwary!
The vulnerability that comes with being a young woman giving herself up to the intense, disconcerting, and overwhelming emotions and feelings of falling in love.
Jon Loomes: Piano and cello dance in the darkness. I've used richer strings here, and the orchestra is processed into more synth like textures, “That sound” suggested to me a sense of dread, something unavoidable and uncomfortable. I've channelled my inner Warren Ellis and used a lot of slightly warped sounds here, familiar yet unfamiliar. “...a sea change, into something rich and strange”
Track 5 | Singing With My Ghosts
“The joyous sound of my memories.”
Eliza Delf: An uplifting call to those who we have lost but do not forget. Haunting vocals explore the power of holding onto those you love through memory, and the rich choral sound creates a sense of euphoria; defiance in the face of grief. The dream-like reverie at the end of the song is immersive and evocative, with harmonies that drift and reverberate across time.
Jon Loomes: A hat tip to the production work of Nile Rogers. This is a song about memory, the thoughts that haunt us. An echoing piano creates a cascade of notes, setting a bedrock for a scene of half imagined reverie. Strings and voices fill the spaces between thoughts, and, crossing oceans of time, the strains of a duduk call to us from the cradle of civilisation. Burnt out ends of smoky days and the stale, cold smell of mourning.
Track 6 | My Familiar
“I put my bones back piece by piece, I steal the blood back from the beast.”
Eliza Delf: A rhythmic incantation based on a compelling hypnotic chant. The familiar is a soul-mate lost. The process of reclaiming and rebuilding one’s sense of self afterwards is described in visceral and elemental metaphors – this is not the simple act of dipping into a “self help guidebook” and “moving on”, this is venturing into the heart of the labyrinth to defeat the Minotaur.
Jon Loomes: Ritual and Rhythm have always been close associates and so this track is built on complex percussion elements. A hurdy-gurdy adds a cicada like buzz to the dancing beat, as Eliza incants and conjures, evokes and abjures, wrestling demons, and drawing an arcane power from within. Droning textures add a sense of tension to a spell that will ultimately conclude with silence. “When drums stop, very bad”, as every musician will tell you.
Track 7 | Heaviness In The Head
“Clarity comes with the sunlight, but I want a light more forgiving.”
Eliza Delf: A response to feeling the weariness of life’s low moments – with a determination to reclaim the positive and hopeful elements of life. A spirit of optimism and resilience underpins the choruses. Life goes on, life gets better.
Jon Loomes: This was one of the first songs I tackled for this album. Eliza's pentatonic melody for the verses seemed to me to shift between keys, so I've had the strings build up from a simple drone into rich bitonal clusters, resolving to more familiar harmonic territory for the chorus. Although born of darkness, hope is here in the form of a borrowed theme from Holst's Planets – Jupiter, the bringer of Jollity.
Track 8 | In The Court Of The Queen Of Strangeness
“Your king lives amongst the green – I could love him if he let me!”
Eliza Delf: A conversation with the writer Angela Carter through the musical landscape of a baroque court. A playful, literary homage.
The song explores the line between jealousy and adoration, and the uneasy dynamic between youthful disciples and their more mature and celebrated idols.
Jon Loomes: Jealousy and adoration, I know them both well. “Mediocrity borrows, genius steals” as Stravinsky once said (although he may have nicked that idea off Picasso). Inspiration has to come from somewhere, and no man is an island. With this in mind we journey via the Galant style of Rameau and Couperin to the palace of Versailles where a now very old-fashioned J.S. Bach is having a keyboard duel to finally settle his long-standing beef with Keith Emerson. The queen is not amused.
Track 9 | Penance
“We’ll be waiting in the wings, on the wings of the women who’ve brought us this far…”
Eliza Delf: Celebrating the bravery of women that refused to be bound by the limits and expectations of their time, whilst also lamenting what they were denied. Dark undercurrents underpin the soaring and defiant chorus that gives voice to the current generation that are following in the footsteps of those that started the fight for justice.
Jon Loomes: A feminist message with a warning to a certain type of man, juxtaposed against that most anachronistically misogynist of musical styles, the 'Bond' theme. In my mind, this tale, full of secrets being gradually brought to light, is set in eastern Europe, which seems as good a reason as any to dust off the Cimbalom. Time for veteran agent Georgina Smiley to come out of retirement.
Track 10 | Into The Wilderness
“I’m not lost, I’m in the wilderness.”
Eliza Delf: Exploring the connection between the wilderness of the natural world, and the psychological wilderness within. Both are areas of untamed freedom and risk – with an edge of danger as well as sanctuary. The peace at the heart of the wilderness can only be found by overcoming the anxiety of letting go.
Deciding to find joy, or at least acceptance, in the more troubled parts of one’s life. It’s a bit of a “whistling in the dark” song – keeping the shadows at bay. The verses have a detached and observational quality to them.
Jon Loomes: Acceptance and finding peace; conclusions and wrapping up. I've tried to bring together a lot of ideas we've heard earlier in the album. Musical recapitulation aside, there are borrowings from the folk tradition, orchestral sounds both raw and processed, colouristic effects, themes derived from hidden places and a textural density that by turns obscures or reveals who knows what? Eyes in the undergrowth are watching... We finish, not a million miles from where we started, but our lives are richer for the journey; a journey that is just beginning as we step out of our cages once more.