This past spring, Suzzy Roche and her daughter Lucy Wainwright Roche headed down to Nashville to make their third album together. Suzzy had written a batch of songs, informed both by personal loss — her sister, Maggie, and her mother died in 2017 — and her sense of the societal havoc stemming from the 2016 election. Suzzy wrote these close-to-the-heart, close-to-the-bone songs with Lucy always in mind to sing them.
The two were just a week or so into their recording sessions with producer Jordan Brooke Hamlin (who had produced Lucy’s last two solo albums) when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Suzzy and Lucy had to return quickly to their homes in Manhattan and Brooklyn, respectively, for the quarantine lockdown. It was a scary, bleak time but they didn’t abandon the album, even though Suzzy admits she felt like giving up many times — “like, why bother, the world is coming to an end.” However, she credits Lucy, Jordan, Helen Vaskevitch (assistant engineer), Stewart Lerman (who wound up mixing the record) and Dick Connette (StorySound Records) with keeping the project going. “Although this wasn’t the plan we originally made, and although it was trying at times,” Lucy shares, “we made it work and I actually think this is my favorite of our duo recordings.”
I Can Still Hear You, conceived out of personal loss and turmoil, arrives at a time of global loss and turmoil. The 11 thought-provoking tracks explore themes of good and evil, youth and mortality, the absurd and the serious, the real and the imagined, and the connection between what is present and what is gone. Each of their albums together have documented a specific time and this one, according to Suzzy, “probably is the darkest, but at the same time, it’s the most fanciful too. This time, there seemed an extra urgency about it.”
Today Glide is excited to premiere the video for “Get the Better,” one of two tracks on the album written during the pandemic, although it was started years earlier. The dreamy tune seems to swirl with ghosts, angels and thoughts about mortality, and it also represents the closest that Suzzy and Lucy have gotten to co-writing a song. Lucy began it 15 years ago and has been rewriting the tune, unsatisfyingly, since then. During the quarantine, she handed it off to her mom, who — as Lucy readily admits — “turned it into what it should be.” The song showcases their individual vocal strengths as well as their powerful harmonies, which both complement the potent dramatic pop that feels, perhaps appropriately, as if it could be a hit on 90s radio. The instrumentation is sparse yet moody, acting as a rich accent to the vocal interplay between the two singers and the emotionally stirring lyrics. All of this is complemented by the dark and mysterious animated video that feels like a painting come to life.
Suzzy Roche describes the process behind the song:
“This is the first song that Lucy and I have collaborated on. It was left on the studio floor when Lucy and Jordan made Lucy’s last recording (Little Beast). We kept the words to the chorus and Lucy’s melody, and I wrote the lyrics. I love collaborating when writing a song, because it’s surprising what comes out. This song and ‘I Can Still Hear You’ were both written during the shutdown in NYC. And for me, they capture the mood of those scary days.”