GOD HELP THE GERL
Ciara MacLaverty follows the latest musical
pilgrimage of Belle and Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch - God Help the Girl, a girl-group album that wants to be a film
E ou have been warned. I'm going to be contrary.’ sings the beautiful (‘atherine lreton on (Iml Help the Girl
— the new album written by Stuart Murdoch of
Belle and Sebastian fame. Murdoch could be speaking about himself. for he has always confounded creative expectation.
(ind Help the Girl feels like a natural extension of the Murdoch formula (or anti- formula) that provided B&S with such passionate fans. In (:‘II'I‘G (as it was with B&Sl story is key — both the intrigue and melodic story of the songs. and the wider story of how the music is made. as Murdoch wants it to be. without having to play the music industry games and tick corporate boxes.
GHTG was born when Murdoch started hearing and composing songs for female voices. Having once trawled Glasgow cafés for B&S members. this time he held internet auditions to find vocalists for his ‘60s girl group‘ album. He placed an advert in The List: ‘(iirl singer needed for autumnal recording project. Must have a way with a tune. (‘eline Dion
ing for I
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your breath. Ballpark. Ronettes Friend And Loy er. Twinkle Phone Neil: 0H! 227 :31.
(It Work with established hand. foriginul mate-
Rick \\'enlworth (Hit/mail and I). There is a tapestry of different tones and tempos and echoes of classic Abba and Queen. Murdoch has a wonderful capacity to catch the heart off guard with the simplicity and honesty of his lyrics. In hospital with anorexia. live (lreton) sings: ‘I read a book a day like an apple. but I did not eat. And so the doctor came to me. He said a woman does not live by the printed word. forgive yourself and eat.'
Murdoch has now taken the project a leap further by writing a film script around the characters he discovered through song. (iml Help the (iirl (the musical) has a key ally in Hollywood Producer. Barry Mendel (Rushmore.
The Life Aquatic wit/I Steve Xixs‘mll who is helping with development. Mendel can clearly see (ilasgow as the setting for this indie musical hybrid.
‘l’m sure the film would be a perfect expansion of Stuart’s creative ambition and a very singular piece of at work. Stuart was also a great tour guide for (ilasgow. He took me to these little dancehalls and cafés and I really saw the film come alive in my
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As fate would have it. the resulting lead vocalist. Catherine lreton. was not an applicant per se. but a friend-of-a-friend. Murdoch's wife. Marisa Privitera. tricked him into listening to lreton sing.
Her exquisite voice leads us through an emotional narrative. depicting the main character of live. a young girl trying to rebuild her life in Glasgow after a spell of chronic illness in hospital. live hooks up with James and
Cassie. two further characters that grew out of
The musicianship is layered and lush. and the production is crisp as apple from the fridge. Thus far. more than 80 musicians have taken part. including a 45-piece orchestra directed by
20 THE LIST ‘.‘. 25> Jun 730‘.)
SAY “HEY, THERE'S AN ICEBERG'"
film and he‘s willing to invest his professional trust.
‘()ne of the great things about this project is that Stuart had the experience with 'I'igermilk of having no clue what he was doing. and he had the faith that he could figure it out. It‘s fundamental to (ill'I'G that he figures out how he wants to go about it. I don‘t want to deprive him of that and sometimes I have to bite my tongue. But if he was about to hit an iceberg. I‘d say. “Hey. there's an iceberg.”
With an iceberg-free horizon ahead. lead singer lreton shares her excitement and enthusiasm. ‘In the beginning. Stuart urged me not to get my hopes too high. There was a long period of waiting-to-hear and my family started asking. who is this guy'.’ And now it's incredible