Durham-based indie-folk singer-songwriter Harri Endersby has recently released her brilliant new album Mazes, and it’s full of soothing acoustic tunes and gorgeous soundscapes – it’s the kind of record that’s perfect for a long Autumn walk amongst nature, or like a warm musical blanket in the cold Winter nights.
So we were super-pleased to have Harri take us through the new record song-by-song, and discuss the inspiration and meaning of each track. Check out Mazes below on Spotify – start with lead singles Breathe and Mountainside for a flavour of this beautiful album…and read the interview as you go!
This is the first song that I wrote for the album so it seemed appropriate to make it the first song on the record! It also introduces the listener to prominent themes that run all the way through this album – a sense of home, nostalgia and belonging. The opening lines of this song were inspired by the silhouette of Roseberry Topping, a small peak in North Yorkshire near to where we live: “I can see your face, etched into the mountainside”. Lyrically and musically this song is a celebration of the people that we love, and might have lost, and how the landscape around us can provoke deep memories of them within us.
Breathe is a song I wrote for someone who I love very deeply. It’s about healing from heartbreak and finding solace in the simplicity and quiet wildness of nature. I think the simple stuff of life can be really restorative, whether that’s being near the sea, or watching the skies change at the end of the day. I guess it’s about giving ourselves that space and time to breathe, and stop our minds whirring for a little while.
I wrote this song on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides, a place to which I have close ties and great affection. The lyrics and melody of this song came almost immediately after a walk on Nisabost with my family. It started off as a pretty unremarkable evening, but within minutes the skies had caught us all off guard with the most vivid and striking sunset we’d ever seen, turning the sea and sand hues of bright orange. It sums up one of the happiest moments of my life, being with my family in our favourite place: “I’d climb the highest hill, I’d cross the coldest sea – for just one more hour”.
Mazes was the very last track to make it on the album and ended up being the title track. I wrote it as we began the album recording process and instantly felt it belonged as the centrepiece of the record. I wrote this song at the end of a very turbulent year, both politically and personally. It’s quite simply an honest reflection about how lost you can feel going through times of stress, or whilst watching things spiral that you have no control over. The instrumentation is very stark throughout to reflect this feeling of this isolation. But I am a strong believer that hope prevails, and we brought in the many voices at the end to reinforce this: “one more breath leads to another, one more step leads you to somewhere”.
Glow was a really fun track to make. Lyrically, it explores the weird and wonderful complexity of what it means to be human, and how we are all full of paradoxes: “you’re a whirlwind, you’re a snowstorm – you’re the first day of spring”. Instrumentally, we had a lot of fun arranging this, introducing lots of different ‘voices’ of melody that intertwine with each other throughout. I feel like there are spiritual elements to this song too, reflected by the choral-like harmonies and lyrics of the chorus: “you are all around, roots deep in the ground”.
This song was inspired by an observation of the tiny birds that live at the bottom of my garden. The homes that they had made were situated in a giant shrub that, year by year, grew so tall that it totally blocked the view of the beautiful fields and hills that stretched out from the back of my house. Thus ensued an on-going internal dilemma about my potential impact on the natural world around me: “small birds sing from the trees, building their homes as they please//who are we to disturb them now? Leading their lives as they know how”. (I didn’t cut the shrub down.)
This is a lullaby written to celebrate the arrival of Isla, the daughter of dear friends of mine. As a family they have a deep love of Scotland so we included a field recording of a very vocal robin from the isle of Harris intermingled with the slow running of a summer stream. As much as this was written for Isla, I think lullabies are something we all need occasionally – it’s good to sleep and remember good dreams.
Flight is another bird-inspired song with a very strong story-telling aspect. I sometimes think it would be nice to have the perspective the birds have, looking down on us from great height and seeing the bigger picture. It’s a very stripped back song instrumentally, with the occasionally lift and flight of harmonium and fiddles as the birds rise and soar.
Close to Home
The final track of this album is a real celebration of home. I’ve lived in the North East of England for nearly the whole of my life and this song is about the joy of returning home after a long time away and seeing the familiar sights that signal that you’re getting closer. We brought in a selection of voices to echo that sense of community that is so strong here in the North East and interwove a fun electric guitar riff into the arrangement to create a sense of celebration and joy. It’s one of my favourite tracks to perform live and tends to resonate strongly in our region and with all other fellow home-birds alike.
Find out more on Harri now at harriendersby.com.