Taken from the album “Spin Cycle”; video made by Yan Wang.
“I find it tedious that, in music, we usually only see one type of love represented,” says Yorkshire composer, musician and music therapist Aby Vulliamy. “I’m not interested in writing about that.”
Spin Cycle, Vulliamy’s debut album, is indeed an album about love: love at its most transformative, love at its most dreary, love at its most challenging, love at its most desperate. It is, to quote the writer who has found her voice in these songs, an album about “love, life and the reality of parenthood – not just the pink and fluffy bits.”
“For years, I thought of myself as a purely social musician who couldn’t self-generate – that my strength was in taking what someone else had put out there, and adding to it,” explains Vulliamy. “That’s the role of the viola: you don’t notice that we’re there until we screw up.”
“It’s only since having had my daughters that I’ve been able to put words to music. Motherhood turned my life upside down and suddenly, sitting there in the dark, the words just flowed.”
The result is both intimate and visceral, full of snatched moments and vivid imagery. Opening track “Spin Cycle” effectively captures domestic drudgery in four lines, performed in the round. “Rock Me Tender” is an evocative portrayal of the lonely, quiet, sleep-deprived terror of a breastfeeding mother. The frantic, furious “Good Enough” delivers a jarring, atonal riposte to society’s judgment of women, mothers or not, once they reach childbearing age while “This Precious Time” acts as the album’s heart as Vulliamy’s layered vocals, backed by rich, mournful trombone and double bass, at once lament and celebrate the inevitable growth of her children from infants to little women.
Vulliamy credits long-time collaborator Stevie Jones (Sound of Yell) with “making the album happen” – by encouraging her to properly document material she had only ever considered performing live, but also in the more practical sense of engineering, producing and mixing the tracks over a period of four years at Glasgow’s Chem19 and Kinning Park Complex studios. Work and child-rearing made recording time scattered and precious, making Vulliamy keen to acknowledge the roles played by her musician partner George Murray, whose trombone contributions appear on the album, and Jones’ partner Jill Wilson in giving the album space to come together. Bill Wells (melodica), Fritz Welsh (percussion) and Christina Rhys (harp) also appear.