"If We Don't Laugh We'll Cry" by Izzie Derry

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"If We Don't Laugh We'll Cry" by Izzie Derry

Review

Although her magnificent album ‘Til We Reach The Sun' was in part a striking manifestation of what I dubbed "Angry Izzie" with her tearing effectively into those who had wronged & upset her, to characterise the whole collection as her using that voice would be inaccurate: though since most of the songs in question were previously released as singles, they did (until experienced within the context of the whole set), create quite an impressive tone of outrage all the more startling given her previous public persona.

However, several other dynamics were in play which ought to be considered: though the sequence did begin with fury, it nuanced as it went, through defiance, refusal to be victimised and an overall determination to maintain the moral higher ground, leading to pity for & amusement at the ones who'd caused hurt. Thus, taken as a complete set, the album showed plenty of looking back (in anger at times) but also positive looking forwards.

Within that were songs which either had no negative perspectives of the past ("Young and Free") nor any other period ("Shake": which can also be found on ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Twelve').

So emerging into the post ‘Til We Reach The Sun' era (and that now includes the career breakthrough of playing twice at Glastonbury 2024) we next experience her new single today: "If We Don't Laugh We'll Cry" which doesn't so much as revert to an earlier version of herself but more plugs directly into her permanent values & reminds us of them. Ideas of compassion, humanity & positivity, albeit tinged a little by the sadness of the stuff she's had to process but now (I trust) got out of her system. Songwriting has a very powerful cathartic potential.

What one picks up on right from the very opening lines is how much (actually rather dark) humour is now entering her writing. A good humoured artist she may always have been, but all her earlier songs seem relatively serious & high minded once you've heard this one kick off. It's a beautifully calibrated balance of emotions.

Izzie told us a few years back that she'd "learned to grow" and certainly her work since then demonstrates that so effectively.

I have been working on the assumption in recent reviews that as her career has evolved into band arrangements, her capacity to play the newer material by herself would diminish. Well as a testament to the strength of the writing, her songs possess the capacity for varied interpretation: I heard her preview "If We Don't Laugh We'll Cry" on Sunday at the Godiva Festival and it was just as moving in its stripped back form as the studio version. I detect too in this one (and several off the album) that her voice is now adding lower notes to those we are used to hearing (a theory she thought was possible when I ran it past her) and this aspect too tends to accentuate the sense of growth & change.

What too is unique is that this is her first release which is wholly her own composition, performance and production: something of which she is rightly very proud. (She also considers it "the most beautiful song" she's ever written & I have no grounds on which to contest that). A well known singer & guitar player, we've seen her turn into a live keyboard player & behind the scenes she has now become a fully fledged multi-instrumentalist. Equally, she has been working hard on production techniques: so much so that she has a credit on Lauren South's debut album ‘Tiny Boat' for her advice in that direction.

I wonder where she will go next? To some extent, the issue is discussed in a separate article which I'll be sharing soon which focuses on her Glastonbury experiences.

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