Songwriting is truly one of the most powerful artforms in the world. The ability of certain songwriters to take our souls and do what they like to them is uncanny. They grab our hearts, wring them out, stab them, punish them, and then resuscitate them back to life. They grab our brains, go inside and make us question everything, make us cry, make us hurt, make us smile, and then put them back as good as new. They can drop us on the floor and pick us up, or tear us down and build us back up. They can do whatever they like through their words and their music, and the power of this is insane. To me, talented songwriters are what music the amazing thing that it is.
I’ve handpicked six songwriters that have affected me personally (emotionally or mentally), in order to showcase their gifts with the written word, and let everyone who doesn’t already know hear about the talent that these people possess.
John Floreani – Trophy Eyes, Little Brother
John is the singer and songwriter for Trophy Eyes, and is a huge part of the reason behind the band’s huge jump in popularity in the last two years. He manages to tell a story with nearly every song he writes, and is truly a rare talent. His writing is emotional, personal, and simply beautiful, and the way he uses the English language is just on a level above everyone else.
“Chlorine” is a perfect example of this. John tells the story of a person he knew that had saved him from drowning once, and then he later found out that this person killed themselves. That is a fairly grim concept, but John manages to write about it in a way that has captured the hearts of thousands of listeners.
“Tell me why I didn’t die in that swimming pool.
When you saved my life did you know that you would take your own?
Who decides if we stay or if we go?
Did it cross your mind that I’m alive because of you?”
This is just one example, out of a countless number of songs that he has written that grab your heart and hold onto it from start to finish. The emotions felt when listening to these songs are varying, as different topics are covered in different songs. John writes about love, relationships, suicide, depression, friends, his upbringing, and just his life experiences. Songs like “Suicide Pact,” “Miracle,” “Breathe You In,” “Heaven Sent,” and “Hurt” are some of his incredibly emotional impacting songs. His writing is an incredibly exposing window into his life, and the openness and personal touch to the songs really make the music even better. People constantly tattoo his lyrics on themselves, and share that his lyrics have helped them through great personal issues they have been going through. “Hurt” hits very hard for me personally, and is a beautifully written track.
John also has his solo acoustic act, Little Brother. While there are only 6 songs released under its alias, is still greatly followed and appreciated in the scene. It is where John is able to really slow it all down. Because of this slowness, and more focus on the lyrics and vocals, his writing is even more evident. Songs like “Cleveland OH,” “Moving Day,” “Chloe,” and “A Distance,” are all fantastic pieces of art, as they perfectly discuss relationships and life in a way that is almost poetry.
“I keep a tiny coloured print of you and I,
The one we took at our friends engagement.
Sometimes I catch myself just swimming in your smile,
and the crease over your eyes, if I try,
I remember what they look like.”
I personally have spent a ridiculous amount of time listening to both Trophy Eyes and Little Brother, and believe Chemical Miracle (2016) is one of the best albums of the last five years. Every listen of that record makes it feel like it has a hold on you; refusing to let go from the start of “Chlorine” til the closing echoing verses of “Daydreamer”. And what draws me in is John’s emotional writing.
At the live shows you can see the effects his words have on people, as everyone sings together and feels as if they wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Some of the most special moments of my life have involved screaming every word of “Miracle” at John during a Trophy Eyes set, with an arm around a friend, lost completely in the moment. The words are what do that. Nothing else can create that feeling. Without the lyrics that can’t happen.
David Delahoz – Belle Haven
David is the main songwriter and vocalist for Belle Haven, and has a different writing style to John. His lyrics are generally harsh, very honest, and don’t really hold anything back. This is shown greatly through their album You Me and Everything In Between (2017) which touches on themes such as loss, mental illness, relationships, and the raw toxicity of human beings.
Songs like “The Carving Knife” perfectly sum up the feelings one can feel after a toxic breakup, but do this in a way that makes it feel as if you can sense the despair and discontent in the words. In his lyrics David will often use certain metaphors in a way that make the words themselves seem even more harsh and intense than they already are:
“I spent a year of my life,
under your carving knife,
and nobody ever knew,
I had surrendered control,
your soul was like a black hole,
now I’m letting go.”
He also uses personal experiences with mental illness to draw upon for his lyrics, which creates even more of an emotional edge to the songs that people seem to really get into. David tells beautiful stories through his songs, which are incredibly emotional. Especially evident in “By Hook or By Crook,” he manages to capture experiences into 3 or so minutes of music and retell them in the most amazing way possible. The words themselves are often heavily related to by listeners, including myself, and the passion behind the songs is evident in the live shows.
All members of Belle Haven are incredibly energetic in their performances, and are often matched by the audience, who will try their best to get into David’s face so that they can sing, yell, and vibe with him. The words provide a release for people, especially at live shows, as they are able to yell the words and release all their thoughts and emotions through the music. This obviously wouldn’t be possible without David’s lyrics, and his writing is one of the reasons Belle Haven shows are a great place to be, as well as why their music is able to help people going through tough times.
Tom Searle – Architects
Tom was the guitarist and primary songwriter for Architects before tragically losing his battle with cancer in 2016. Tom was, and still is, one of the best songwriters in music, and is truly the heart of Architects and everything they have achieved and created. It is evident in the lyrics that he has written that he had drawn from his own troubles with the disease itself, and used it to create some of the most honest, gut wrenching, and hauntingly beautiful songs you will hear.
“A sickness with no remedy,
except the ones inside of me.
You ever wonder how deep you can sink,
into nothing at all.”
His lyrics were incredibly honest and now looking back, were an insight into what he was going through, although there is no way any of us can possibly imagine what that was like. Songs like “Gone with the Wind” are tough to listen to, as it literally explains what was going through Tom’s mind whilst he was battling cancer. As well as writing in an emotionally jarring way about his own experiences, Tom also touched on themes such as religion, mental illness, and society as a whole.
“C.A.N.C.E.R” is one of the most hard hitting and powerful songs I have ever heard. Every word makes you feel like you are getting kicked in the stomach, but in a good way that makes you feel alive because of how meaningful the words are.
“Find a little light, and hold it close,
don’t lose sight, of what matters most.”
I feel that Tom’s writing was what got Architects to where they were. His skill as a guitar player and connection with the words he wrote made Architects something special and unique. Tom truly had a way with words, and can make you feel something every time you listen to an Architects song. Tom’s lyrics are why Architects shows are so emotional, and the feelings one gets at one of their shows cannot be put into words.
Tom was a once in a lifetime type of writer, and was said to be a fantastic human being. His loss is an awful one but all we can do is appreciate his talents and admire what he left behind, which was for us some truly special music.
Christopher Vernon – Better Half, Belle Haven
Chris is the vocalist and prominent songwriter of Better Half, as well as being the guitarist and backing vocalist of Belle Haven. Having only recently released their EP Maybe I Was Wrong, Chris has presumably been getting an endless stream of compliments on his writing. Justifiably so, as the release is a great example of effective and honest song writing.
The never ending stream of tweets and posts about it, all mention how emotional it is. This is because of the raw, honest, and open way that Chris goes about his writing. He attempts to display his thoughts and emotions in the most straight forward way he can, which creates some fairly unique pieces of music. “Rest Your Head” is one in particular that hits close to home for myself, and is one of my favourite songs from this year so far.
He commonly touches on topics of relationships, family, toxic people, and struggles with mental illness. He has a certain way of writing that is straight to the point, and it seems harsh at first but it is really quite beautiful. His songs really make you feel like you are in his position, as the descriptions and the words that he choose paint a vivid picture of whatever situation he is talking about.
“As the red 3am on the clock in the corner of her bedroom ticked to another minute, another minute of being stuck in my head.”
Better Half only have six songs released I believe, so they have a lot of time left in their career to continue to produce fantastic music. With Chris writing and singing for them, the limits are endless.
Jacob Charlton – Thornhill
Being the songwriter for one of the most promising up and coming bands in the scene, Thornhill, Jacob is clearly going to be one of the reasons why. His lyrics are hard-hitting and effective, but also strongly involve a lot of meaning. He writes in a way that has the words flow together seamlessly, which is no small feat given the tempo-changing and high dynamic environment that Thornhill create. Every word feels like it should be there, and fluently match up perfectly with the tone of the vocals, whether he is screaming or singing at the time.
He touches on several themes with his writing, such as mental illness, stress, dealing with life’s issues, toxic relationships, fake people, and others. Some tracks in particular are very strong in discussing these themes. “Joy” is from the perspective of someone who feels like they are walking through the world completely alone as they struggle with mental issues. “Parasite” is about toxic people, and how you yourself can be toxic at times too. “Limbo” is about dealing with shit people, and putting up with them constantly.
“I didn’t want you I knew that I had you,
my love was see-through, I thought that you knew.
I knowingly used you, I didn’t need you.”
Jacob also writes songs with the intention of helping people let out some energy and some anger. “Reptile” is a very heavy track, which speaks of dark troubling things, and is written to be very open-ended and open to interpretation. This leaves it up to the listener to enjoy it how they wish, which is quite creative.
Possessing many different styles of writing ability, as well as being a madly talented vocalist, Jacob is a rare talent, and Thornhill’s Butterfly EP (2018) is the perfect showcase of this.
Matthew Gravolin – Hellions
Matt is the main songwriter as well as the main guitarist for Hellions, and is one of the most intriguing writers I know of. He has a particular talent for picking and choosing very unique and strange words that not many would think to use when writing songs. Hellions songs are rather wordy, and involve a lot of alliteration and rhyming that makes them flow ridiculously well.
Matt has a rather unique way of getting his message across in songs, as his skilled word use makes the songs really stand out from others, as well as his ability as a guitar player and as a backup vocalist. This is particularly evident in tracks like “X (Mwah”, or “Lotus Eater,” or even “He Without Sin.”
“So are we water without salubrity?
We’re not so bright for breathing cosmic debris. No we can’t see.
I want vertiginous height and speed, that just might kill me.”
Matt touches on several themes in his lyrics, like relationships, mortality, life, religion, happiness, sadness, and countless others. Hellions’ album Opera Oblivia (2016) is very highly regarded, and this is because of how well it is written and produced. That cannot simply be credited to Matt as it was an amazing feat by the whole band to create from idea through to an impressive finished product, but Matt’s lyrics are a large part of what make it great.
Hellions’ songs really stand out from the others because of the unique word usage in them, but they also carry emotional depth as well. It is evident at live shows when the crowd is singing along passionately. Particularly in songs like “Thresher” that are so raw and passionate, and allow the listener to relate and really let the music take them away.
“Fuck you for not being strong enough,
for letting me bare the weight of both of us.”
These are just a few of the long list of people that I believe are amazing songwriters. Their way with words is second to none and the gratitude we have at Depth for them is endless. Without honest and emotive lyrics, music doesn’t carry the relatable meaning about the human existence, and we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. Celebrated in body art, wall art, merch, and social media, the lyrical creations of these musicians are everywhere, as symbols of the wholesome gift that these people give us.[Image of John Floreani @ Download Melbourne courtesy of Rowan Donohue]