Take Michelle Lewis at her word, or wonder if she’s trying to convince herself.
When asked if the song Lonely Life, from her EP Broken, is inspired by time spent on the road as a solo performing songwriter, Lewis replied the song was not intended to be read that way necessarily. “It’s more in general. Everybody feels lonely at some point,” she told The Beat.
“But, I was alone on tour when I wrote it ... ” Alone, though, is how Lewis writes most of her songs. She said she rarely shares in-progress stuff with anyone, even her fiance or fellow songwriters.
Songs, she said, can sometimes be long in coming, or in completing. Half-formed songs can sometimes find their way onto the proverbial shelf for months at a time.
Sharing these works-in-progress is not a mechanism Lewis employs as a way of moving the process along. She prefers the first friends to hear her song be an audience at one of her shows.
“The more I play a song in front of people, the more comfortable I get with what’s working or not working, maybe a word here and there or something,” Lewis explained. “After a while, when it starts to settle in, is when I know it’s done. It’s better to play songs for people before you record them.”
The flip side of that is, once you’ve recorded songs, you’re excited to hit the road and play them for even more people.
Paris hadn’t been released when Lewis played here last summer, and she’s thrilled to have new music to play this go-round. Lewis, a Boston-area native, made music as a child in choir and courtesy of piano lessons, but it was in high school that she began to teach herself songs, which resonated with her enough to begin working on her own material. She honed her craft at open mics and coffee-shop gigs while getting a serious music education at Boston’s Berklee College of Music.
She confessed she wishes she were a more prolific writer, adding that “inspiration can only get you so far.” On the other hand, “I prefer to have an idea come to me and hit me over the head. I feel cheap writing something just for the sake of writing,” she said. “So many people are musicians first before they’re human. I try to be human first. Without that, there wouldn’t be any music.”