Track By Track : Amanda Lehmann - Innocence And Illusion

By John A. Wilcox

Amanda Lehmann has released an awesome new album! I'll shut up & let her talk about it! : All these songs are very personal to me. At the same time, I want them to become personal to whoever is listening to them. So make them your songs, interpret them your way, they are your stories to enjoy and experience!

I�ll give some little insights into how they were constructed, and what they are for me here, and then please take them as your own and enjoy them!

Track 1: Who Are The Heroes? (Lehmann) 6:58
AL: The first song on the album, Who Are The Heroes? is musically a kind of overture! The beginning is dark and foreboding, with a layer of gentle innocence breaking through between verses. The instrumental has my angry lead guitar building up to the fast tempo arpeggio synth solo from Nick Magnus, which sweeps through to the end of the instrumental, breaking out into thematic lead melodies and choral vocals, ending in an uplifting, major key sequence. I�ve got nearly all my guitars playing on this track! The Ibanez, the Fender Strat and Faith acoustic, and also used the E-bow for some parts as well. A real guitar-fest!

I had the concept of the song before the music came! A young mind is easily impressed with bravado, with arrogance, with raw power. But these �Gods� will ultimately fail and fall from grace as their heroism is an illusion. Yet look the other way and see that heroes are all around, in the every day. We saw a lot of that during the pandemic. People doing what they do, every day, and continuing to do it come what may. Little acts of heroism � a rescue, standing up for a mate, helping someone in distress. Asking nothing in return �I�m not a hero, I�m doing what anyone would do�.

Amanda Lehmann: Vocals & Guitars
Nick Magnus: Keyboard, programming.

Track 2: Tinkerbell (Lehmann) 5:58
AL:Tinkerbell is a magical ballad about lost love, unrequited love. The character of Tinkerbell is romantic, dreamy yet full of longing and sadness. She wants to sprinkle magic and make everything beautiful, but it�s as if she is in another world; on the other side of the glass. I loved singing this song, it�s full of pathos and expression, and I have gone to town on my multi layered vocal harmonies on this track. I find constructing vocal harmonies immensely enjoyable!

This was the first song that I worked on with Nick Magnus. I recorded my guitars and all the vocals and sent the files over to Nick. We had discussed what he could do in the instrumental � I wanted it to continue the story and illustrate a sort of whimsical flying sequence. Nick�s panoramic orchestral treatment of this was amazing, it�s sort of Tim Burton meets Harry Potter and it�s stunning. I love the way he has managed to get the character across where Tinkerbell is a bit cheeky and it all gets a little bit mad and unhinged!

I love the magic and energy of this song, it�s very special to me.

Amanda Lehmann: Vocals, Guitars
Nick Magnus: Keyboards, programming

Track 3: Only Happy When It Rains (Lehmann) 3:45
AL: This track is a light relief contrast here and a chance for me to sing the blues! It�s got humour in it, telling about groups of people who only appear out in the open when the weather is bad and are only happy when things are not good and they can grumble! I love singing this sort of low register jazz/blues vocal style, it comes very naturally to me.

Roger King provided the keyboard and rhythm section on this tune, with a jazzy solo on alto sax by Rob Townsend and some blues harmonica from Steve Hackett. It�s a song we�ve all performed together live, and I think that this liveliness comes across well in the recording.

Amanda Lehmann: Guitar & vocals
Roger King: Keyboard
Steve Hackett: Harmonica
Rob Townsend: Alto Sax

Track 4: The Watcher (Lehmann) 7:25
AL: Coming out of the humour and swing of the last track, we now enter the 7:25 minute track: The Watcher. The Watcher is about constraints, being held back. The Watcher can be internal, or external. It can be the critic in our own mind, or the controlling person. It can be a society, or a strict regime. But it watches and represses. My vocals are intense and personal on this track, and my guitar gets a real workout, from the clean blues licks at the start of the song, to the raunchy guitar solo, and weaving in and out of the vocal lines with the occasional Wishbone Ash-style harmony guitar riffs in between.

I originally wrote The Watcher back in the early 90s and used to perform it regularly with my band � it was a favourite and often requested! For this album version, I added the intro and outro to it, updated some of the lyrics, and changed a lot of the guitar work. I constructed whole thing on my Korg Trinity including strings, effects, drums and bass, and then sent the track, complete with all the vocals and guitars, over to Nick Magnus, who added his expertise and a plethora of wonderful extra layers to the song, including the swooshing synth pad, the inspired ticking clock after the instrumental, and of course that wonderful Mellotron choir! Nick really is a Mellotron master, it�s all over this album, subtle and haunting. I love it, always been a Mellotron fan, long before I even knew what it was!

I mustn�t neglect to mention Paul Johnson�s vocals on this track! He makes a guest appearance with the word �Freedom!� in verse 2� I�m afraid I put him through the mill for this one word� he didn�t have much of a voice left by the time I�d finished with him! But it�s spot-on!

The Watcher is the second single to be released and can be found on YouTube: The Watcher

Amanda Lehmann: Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Nick Magnus: Keyboards, programming
Paul Johnson: Vocal �Freedom!�

Track 5: Memory Lane (Lehmann) 4:39
AL: Memory Lane was written over time during my mother�s illness with Dementia. I was driven to write this song to help with my own emotions, and it has also been my hope that the song would help other people who had been touched by this terrible disease. I have had so much wonderful and touching feedback from people, many sharing their own experiences � both after playing Memory Lane live, and also from the recording.

In a way, Memory Lane is full circle � the journey back into the child�s world but lost and often unreachable. The lyrics portray the confusion and turmoil that accompany this awful condition. Roger King�s string arrangement is poignant and beautiful running through the song and Rob Townsend�s alto sax echoes a nostalgic and meandering tale through the solo. Singing this song is very emotional for me, and I feel that this comes across when you listen to it.

Memory Lane was released as the first single: Memory Lane

Amanda Lehmann: Guitar & vocals
Roger King: Keyboard
Rob Townsend: Alto Sax

Track 6: Forever Days (Lehmann) 5:46
AL: Lifting us into the hazy days of adolescence, here is Forever Days, when life stretches before us and everything seems possible! The ups and downs, hopes and fears, laughter and tears. This song took me a long time to construct � I wanted different sequences to mirror the crazy polarities that happen in those teenage years, and also wanted to incorporate the vibe of the 70s and 80s into it � a little bit of Boston, Ultravox, Blue Oyster Cult�s (Don�t Fear) The Reaper. After coming up with the main guitar riff, I composed most of the song on the keyboard, reintroducing the guitar again for the first instrumental piece. This song was like a puzzle, but once I had put it all together, I was very happy with it, and sent it over to Nick Magnus to perform his magic with it! As well as providing some wonderful orchestral arrangements to this album, plus synth parts and wonderful Mellotron, Nick is also a wizard with the rhythm section, and brings bass and drum sequences to life with added fills and all manner of detail that makes them sound so realistic and work so well.

Having put down all my rhythm and lead guitar parts, it was time to bring in Steve Hackett to join me on harmony guitar, and then fly free with the two main solos. And fly he did, with the first solo of mad swooping, tremolo and tapping, and the second solo with beautiful melodic sustain.

Amanda Lehmann: Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Nick Magnus: Keyboards, programming
Steve Hackett: Guitar

Track 7: We Are One (Lehmann) 4:56
AL: This track was originally recorded for charity project Harmony For Elephants Elephants for Africa charity Elephants for Africa Now remixed, We Are One retains my original keyboard / piano arrangements and I have added brand new vocals and harmonies, and additional guitar.

The song depicts the slow-moving elephant herd, together, we are one. The family, the group, connected across the many miles. I like to think this mirrors the best in humanity. We are, after all, social animals, we need each other, and if we look out for each other, we will thrive.

I sing this song in a very delicate style, which portrays the sensitivity of these huge animals. The �yay-yay-yo�s� during the end sequence have a slight African feel to them, and are celebratory of these wonderful creatures. I love the eternal feel to this song, the way it continues to build. It�s the only song that has a fade-out ending� I see the elephant herd disappearing together into the red, red sunset�.

Amanda: Vocals, Guitars, e-bow, keyboards, piano
Nick: Remixing, and that majestic bass pedal note on the word �Forever�!

Track 8: Childhood Delusions (Lehmann) 4:46
AL: I�d had the lyrics to this track rolling around in my head for a long while, often humming them to myself while out walking the dog! A hugely nostalgic tune, all the magic of childhood that gets uncovered and de-mystified as we become adults, but little bits remain � little pockets of magic and sparkles, (and the man in the moon does still follow me home�).

Working out the chords on the piano took quite a long time; the progressions are quite subtle, although they sound simple on the surface, which is how I wanted the song to sound. Once I had decided on the chords and sequences and recorded the whole piano part, I then recorded my vocal. It was pretty much one first take, it just came so naturally to me. As in , I sung this song in a jazz/blues style voice, with some higher register, very delicate notes added in. It�s a very intimate vocal.

As usual, I sent the files over to Nick, who did the most wonderful treatment of the song, bringing in the smoky 20s bar vibe, but also the nostalgic Hushabye Mountain atmosphere with the string section; a style which had been in my head the whole time. And the sax solo he played is perfect (constructed on keyboards, but to me as good as if it were played on a saxophone, the attention to the detail of this solo is fantastic).

Amanda: Vocals and Piano arrangement
Nick Magnus: Additional piano and orchestral arrangement

Track 9: Where The Small Things Go (Co-written Lehmann/Hackett) 1:42
AL: This little tune was originally recorded in the first UK Lockdown in the spring of 2020. Steve and I were chatting about the idea of doing something quickly over the internet to pop up on Facebook to cheer people up. So, armed with an audio file of the enchanting nylon guitar sequence played by Steve, I then created lyrics and vocal parts for it, and put it together with some haunting multi-layered harmonies. I popped it up on YouTube with a little image I put together in Photoshop, and Where The Small Things Go was born!

Steve was happy for this to go on my album, and it works perfectly as a little finale to the album.

Nick Magnus did some sonic work on it to bring it in line with the rest of the album from the point of view of sound quality!

Amanda Lehmann: Vocals
Steve Hackett: Nylon guitar
Nick: Engineering

Innocence and Illusion
Childhood Delusions
The Man in the Moon still follows me home

Lehmann Links!




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