It was November last year when the world last heard from Manchester-based songwriter, Lindsay Munroe. That was when Lindsay shared Softest Edge, a four-track EP that was inspired by the dissolution of two significant and interconnected relationships – one with the conservative Christian church and one with a long-term partner. More so than a record of endings though, Softest Edge is in many ways a celebration of the freedom that comes with those endings, newfound independence and the strength we can find within when we choose to cut the ropes that bind us.
The EP opens with the straight-talking title track, Softest Edge, it’s a propulsive affair dominated by bassy tones that compliment Lindsay’s rich vocals as it recalls the likes of Nadine Shah or Josienne Clarke. It’s not often a single word leaps out from a song, yet there’s a moment when Lindsay sings, “I stopped loving the moment that I realised I could breathe”, and on the closing word holds the notes like a rush of air filling a body with not just air but hope and optimism for whatever life throws her way.
Elsewhere across the EP’s four tracks, Lindsay shows the remarkable variety of her songwriting, from the earthy acoustics of the Aldous Harding-Esque number Andrew, through to the record’s most surprising moment, Parallel, “a love song for my best friend” set to a rapturous electro-pop backing reminiscent of Chvrches or Robyn, which still feels entirely authentic to Lindsay’s songwriting craft. Perhaps best of all is Need A Ride, which fuses a bombastic guitar-riff to a sultry bass strut, the whole thing strutting about with a Sharon Van Etten -like swagger as Lindsay celebrates her newfound freedom, “when I wake up in the morning, I’m glad you took the warning, I feel more when I’m alone”.
Softest Edge is a record not of struggle but of celebration, of reclaiming yourself from anyone, and anything, that doesn’t appreciate you for who you are. Lindsay Munroe’s liberation might not have come easy, but it was so clearly worth it, freedom never sounded so good. At the end of last year, Lindsay took some time to answer my questions, discussing plans for the year ahead, studying feminist theology and why she’s, “never been able to get away from song writing”.
FTR: For those who don’t know, who is Lindsay Munroe?
Alt-Indie musician based in Manchester, solo dance party enthusiast, recent convert to spicy foods.
FTR: You’ve just released your new EP, Softest Edge, what can you tell me about the recording process?
Most of the EP was recorded in a few days with producer/magician Steph Marziano. It felt like a really smooth process- Steph is incredible at bringing out the very best in people’s songs and we’d worked together before, so it felt like a great space of mutual trust. I had recorded the 3rdtrack, Need A Ride, back in November 2020 during the lockdown. That was an interesting experience as Chris Hamilton and I co-produced the song over whatsapp video call. A very 2020 experience, I really loved it but there’s something about working with people in person that creates a different magic.
FTR: The record seems to tackle very different themes to your debut EP, Our Heaviness. Was it a conscious decision to separate the two records?
That’s funny, as I see them as very linked. Our Heaviness was exploring my decision to leave the evangelical church and a difficult romance. Softest Edge is looking at both of those things in the rear-view mirror. On the first track of Our Heaviness I sang “In my body I am more than the way that you want me”, by the second EP it’s “I don’t need another body to make me want my body”. I think it’s the case that the differences between the two EPs are fairly accurate representations of my changes in my personality and self in that time. So I’m glad to hear they seem different.
FTR: There’s a thread of independence that runs through the EP. Do you think putting that onto a record helped you to embrace that independent part of yourself?
For sure, although I think it was more the writing of the songs that almost memorialised that particular journey. Playing the songs live really helps me keep that flame alive and well. I don’t always feel that level of confidence and independence, so putting on my gigging outfit and embodying that onstage brings me back to that place.
FTR: I read you studied a Masters in feminist theology, do you think your studies affect your songwriting?
Absolutely. I don’t write directly about feminist theology as that might be a bit dense for a catchy song. But I write about the way that my studies in feminist theology have changed and affected me. I’ve finished my MA now and I suspect some of those themes will come out more in my song writing now I have the mental space to digest them more.
FTR: Who were the influences on Softest Edge? What were you listening to when you made the record?
I had really specific reference playlists for each song. So we had Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen, Julien Baker and this really beautiful Phoebe Bridgers and Manchester Orchestra collaboration. And on the other side, a lot of Taylor Swift and Lorde. I’d never done a pop vocal recording before and I listened to ‘Getaway Car’ to try and nail the delivery for ‘Parallel’. I’d listen to it on the way to and from the studio repetitively.
FTR: Why do you make music? Do you have any creative outlets beyond music?
I’ve never been able to get away from song writing, is the honest answer. Singing is something I have always done, and no matter how frustrating I have sometimes found song writing, I always come back. I’m not someone who needs to write for personal therapy. I think that expressing life experiences in art is so powerful, but I’m at my best when I have loads of outlets (journaling, dancing, cooking, therapy, hiking). All of that helps me approach song writing for the love of it, which means I can enjoy it more and work harder on it, rather than relying on it as my sole creative or emotional outlet.
FTR: What’s next for Lindsay Munroe?
Lots of gigs! And lots more writing. Hopefully there’ll be some good things to announce in 2022.
The Softest Edge is out now. For more information on Lindsay Munroe visit https://www.lindsaymunroe.com/.