Human life

by Michael Rattray

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1.
Human life 03:35
Hello universe, what are you doing here? I don't think youre all that sure yourself my dear and oh universe, what to do with this brain? I don't wanna know the sunshine from the rain again They say you're made of love but I'm not all that sure give us everything we need, still we're wanting more if you know all your secrets and youve really got it sewn show me somewhere that I can belong Hello universe, you put me on my feet, but it's hard filling this evolutionary niche and so universe, this is human life, mother nature's washing hanging on the line They say you're made of love but I'm not all that sure give us everything we need, still we're wanting more if you know all your secrets and youve really got it sewn show me somewhere that I can belong They say you're made of love but I'm not all that sure give us everything we need, still we're wanting more if you know all your secrets and youve really got it sewn show me somewhere that I can belong show me somewhere that I can belong
2.
Got my troubled soul soothed on an autumn day A peculiar stranger crossed my path today He doesnt love no one it's tragic, he loves melody and magic la di di da, la di da I have been hanging out with the ghost of Nick Drake we mutter and laugh out loud at all our mistakes and as we watch misfortune take her last swipe we're still singing, singing for our lives La di di da, la di da He whispers to me "I'm feeling down again" Then sings me the sweetest tune from beginning to end he doesnt love no one its tragic he loves melody and magic la di di da, la di da I have been hanging out with the ghost of Nick Drake we mutter and laugh out loud at all our mistakes and as we watch misfortune take her last swipe we're still singing, singing for our lives La di di da, la di da
3.
New shoots 02:44
Push it down, as far as it will go leave it out, watch the cold wind blow Write it off as something you don't know cut it down, watch the new shoots grow Life will find a way Tell it that there's nowhere left to run show it's hope as the setting of the sun Here I stand the earth is coarse and dry a scattered seed fallen from the sky Life will find a way
4.
Your life will be over before you make up your mind now is your forever, yeah, now is your time. No use in waiting for the right words to say your ship might not come in, so get outside and get on your way Here comes the silence and I stand with open arms this world was meant for me with all its faults and charms Here comes the silence and the sun shines on a new day and all the love inside my heart knows what it wants to say And looking too far ahead is only gonna turn you blind the past is gone, let it go. Don't waste any more of your time They say it's not the destination it's the ride So turn off your virtual world there's a beautiful one right outside
5.
I asked my mama “Why do I cry?” She said “Son, I’m gonna tell you why. I hate to say it, but big black dog’s back again”. And I wanna run but I can’t move, wish somebody else was livin in these shoes, coz life ain’t easy when big black dog’s back again And when I’m up he’s always there just waiting for his moment to lead me to despair. There ain’t no joy when he’s in town and he decides how long he’s gonna sniff around. Well oh my lord he’s a big black dog yeah Went to the doctor said “Somethin is wrong” He said “By now you should be dead and gone because it looks like big black dog’s back again”. I asked the preacher to help me to my feet. He shook his head and said “The lord above would weep, just to discover big black dog’s back again. And when Im up he’s always there just waiting for his moment to lead me to despair. There ain’t no joy when he’s in town and he decides how long he’s gonna sniff around. Well oh my god he’s a big black dog And when Im up he’s always there just waiting for his moment to lead me to despair. There ain’t no joy when he’s in town and he decides how long he’s gonna sniff around. Well oh my lord he’s a big black dog yeah Somebody save my soul he's a big black dog yeah
6.
Getting up 03:15
Turn off the light as you turn into dust You're just a human and that's hard enough You're reaching your arms out for help When beauty takes care of herself Its the getting up that counts when you fall Soon you'll be waking up after it all Does anybody ever get it right first time? Out of the darkness, into light? So if you're drowning, don't give up dear Because every person knows the weight of tears You feel like you'll never return But one more mile and then you're done
7.
Got this far 04:02
I've walked as far as my eyes can see just to watch a falling star burning out on me I've been a hundred strangers to myself and we've been wasting time hanging outside the gates of hell Would it be easier to just throw it all away? Well if I don't hang around I might miss the brighter day and I got this far and I'm not giving up I still believe in love, it's what I'm dreaming of and I got this far and I'm not giving up I sitll believe in love, it's what I'm dreaming of, it's what I'm dreaming of and oh my crazy brain, everything I think I've reached the top it knocks me down again but I believe there's a place I belong and it's somewhere I hope I might find if I just keep moving on Would it be easier to just throw it all away? Well if I don't hang around I might miss the brighter day and I got this far and I'm not giving up I still believe in love, it's what I'm dreaming of and I got this far and I'm not giving up I sitll believe in love, it's what I'm dreaming of, it's what I'm dreaming of
8.
If I knew where I was going, could I make it alone and would this cruel wind stop blowing my heart away? and I know just why you say it, the game is better if you play it, still, you want me to lay it in front of you I could turn on the blue skies, wipe the tears from my eyes If I knew what I wanted from you Just turn around with your affection point it in the right direction 'Cause all this complication just frustrates you If I could just cut my losses, stop wasting time ticking boxes 'cause the last thing I wanted was to hurt you I could turn on the blue skies, wipe the tears from my eyes If I knew what I wanted from you
9.
Porcelain 03:35
Take my hand if you don't understand why the world keeps spinning round and the ways of man Show me how I can let it out. I'd be happy with some direction to the way out All this time, just getting by, when under my skin there's porcelain. And you can laugh as I fall. I'd rather get caught screwing up than not try at all. And I don't care what they say, it's not better to burn out than to fade away
10.
Simple soul 03:14
Gonna take my time if I wanna I'm making up my mind coz I gotta take a look outside to see what I can find I wanna write a song that anyone can sing try and paint a picture of everything If I can touch your heart then maybe that's a start Somebody shine a light, tell me everything is gonna be alright when it's complicated I just lose control I just want a simple soul And I don't know what's happening to me, it's like I wanna stay but I wanna leave. Either way I'll be how I wanna be. Somebody shine a light, tell me everything is gonna be alright when it's complicated I just lose control I just want a simple soul Shine a light, tell me everything is gonna be alright when it's complicated I just lose control I just want a simple soul If I had a simple soul I'd keep you safe from harm I'd never have to let you go or keep on running from the safety of your arms Somebody shine a light, tell me everything is gonna be alright when it's complicated I just lose control I just want a simple soul Shine a light, tell me everything is gonna be alright when it's complicated I just lose control I just want a simple soul
11.
The wind it is a' changin' and your favourite music's playing and you know everything is gonna be alright. We all separate ourselves, spending all our days in hell when we all come from the same light Higher ground it's what we're looking for, when we get a taste of silence we want more Higher ground it's the air we breathe, always looking for something to set us free It's three in the morning and the desperation's dawning, if I write the sweetest tune will it subside? Lost in sheets and old pillows I keep on searching for that simple soul. Is it hiding deep inside? Higher ground it's what we're looking for, when we get a taste of silence we want more Higher ground it's the air we breathe, always looking for something to set us free It's where you gently take my hand and without words I understand. It's where the devil makes no sound, if only I could reach some higher ground Higher ground it's what we're looking for, when we get a taste of silence we want more Higher ground it's the air we breathe, always looking for something to set us free
12.
Wish that I was waking up after being lost in dark I grab a hand for some support, but it's not my Father's and for a while I can pretend the silence comes around again Is it coming to an end? I don't believe in sin and I'm not giving in. The bottom line is I'm still breathing I'm still breathing And all the causes from the past meet inside this plastic mask, breathing life into my bones, reminding me I'm on my own I can't carry this no more, give me the key and I'll unlock the door I don't believe in sin and I'm not giving in. The bottom line is I'm still breathing. I'm still breathing But I'm so tired that the blood inside my veins has turned to mud. For miles and miles I cannot see anything that's touching me. I don't believe in sin and I'm not giving in. The bottom line is I'm still breathing I'm still breathing. I'm still breathing. I'm still breathing.
13.
Step back, back from what you know Hold it close, or just let go It's funny, the saddest songs you sing shine light on everything and torch your soul Oh Lord, send me down some hope send it down from above and Lord your greatest crime of all is life without love I don't need cleansed from my sin just an answer to this prayer I sing but I don't think you'll understand I don't think you have a plan I'v spent the best years of this life just trying to find some peace of mind For all this trouble, all this time I need a reason why Oh Lord, send me down some hope send it down from above and Lord your greatest crime of all is life without love Step back, back from what you know hold it close or just let go It's funny, the saddest songs you sing shine light on everything and make you whole. Oh Lord, send me down some hope send it down from above and Lord your greatest crime of all is life without love
14.
"The Queen & The Soldier" The soldier came knocking upon the queen's door He said, "I am not fighting for you any more" The queen knew she'd seen his face someplace before And slowly she let him inside. He said, "I've watched your palace up here on the hill And I've wondered who's the woman for whom we all kill But I am leaving tomorrow and you can do what you will Only first I am asking you why." Down in the long narrow hall he was led Into her rooms with her tapestries red And she never once took the crown from her head She asked him there to sit down. He said, "I see you now, and you are so very young But I've seen more battles lost than I have battles won And I've got this intuition, says it's all for your fun And now will you tell me why?" The young queen, she fixed him with an arrogant eye She said, "You won't understand, and you may as well not try" But her face was a child's, and he thought she would cry But she closed herself up like a fan. And she said, "I've swallowed a secret burning thread It cuts me inside, and often I've bled" He laid his hand then on top of her head And he bowed her down to the ground. "Tell me how hungry are you? How weak you must feel As you are living here alone, and you are never revealed But I won't march again on your battlefield" And he took her to the window to see. And the sun, it was gold, though the sky, it was gray And she wanted more than she ever could say But she knew how it frightened her, and she turned away And would not look at his face again. And he said, "I want to live as an honest man To get all I deserve and to give all I can And to love a young woman who I don't understand Your highness, your ways are very strange." But the crown, it had fallen, and she thought she would break And she stood there, ashamed of the way her heart ached She took him to the doorstep and she asked him to wait She would only be a moment inside. Out in the distance her order was heard And the soldier was killed, still waiting for her word And while the queen went on strangling in the solitude she preferred The battle continued on

about

I know Michael Rattray a little. A rare, intimate live appearance last year brought a tear to my eye whilst our occasional communication has shown him to be a gentle man with a kind and generous soul. He also exudes both creative talent and wit in abundant, generous measures. But, this artistic flair and admirable disposition hide – as is often the case with a rare talent – a darker side, a more troubled man filled with personal foibles and a heavy soul. This side of Michael’s persona is opened up and exposed at its fullest in his new album Human Life.

Whilst Human Life reveals Michael’s inner turmoil, unveiling his personal demons to the listener, it’s done with such honesty and beauty that its affect is both gut wrenching and uplifting. The former as you can feel his heart desperate for love, his mind searching for answers and his soul suffering in his quest for both. Yet the album is laced with hope, with heavy doses of positivity despite life’s constant pressure clearly weighing heavy on his shoulders. In ‘Got This Far’ and ‘Here Comes The Silence’ it’s not just the message that offers hope and positivity, the music matches the mood too with Lightning Seeds slices of pop-perfection.

“This world was meant for me with all its faults and charms… They say it’s not the destination it’s the ride / so turn off your virtual world there’s a beautiful one right outside” – ‘Here Comes The Silence’

Listening to such hopeful prose lifts the heart as it lets you know that despite the battle, there is an optimism and belief that any doubts and worries will disappear. Most of all, love regularly rears its longed for but yet unattained head, but as always there is hope, and with the beautifully poignant homage to Nick Drake the message sounds perfectly autobiographical, “He doesn’t love no-one it’s tragic / he loves melody and magic” – ‘The Ghost of Nick Drake’. However, with music carrying such emotion, it is when the desolation hits you hardest that Human Life has the biggest impact – it’s when the album is at its most moving and sentimental and when it’s at its best.

Human Life is bookended with perfect piteous and melancholic impact. In the wonderfully emotionally-drenched opener Michael gets straight to the nub, “Oh universe, what to do with this brain / I don’t wanna know the sunshine from the rain again… Show me somewhere that I can belong.” ‘New Shoots’, Getting Up’ and in particular ‘Porcelain’ are album highlights, all sung with incredibly passionate fragility and backed by perfect, simple guitar. These songs are far more than sad ballads, as well as hitting the senses hard they are brilliantly melodic and impeccably performed.

If there is one over-riding theme to be taken away from Human Life it’s Michael’s despairing need yet ever-hopeful search for love. Closing track ‘Life Without Love’ is a stunning and intense finale, gone is the perfectly beautiful tone, in its place is more pain, more hurt, more despair…

“I’ve spent the best years of this life / just trying to find some peace of mind/ for all this trouble all this time / I need a reason why”

“Oh Lord send me down some hope / send it down from above / and Lord your greatest crime of all / is life without love”

Human Life is a deep voyage into one man’s inner turmoil and despair. It’s sensitive, affecting, and amongst the search for love and reassurance shines brightly a magnificently ethereal album full of hope.

Tony Foster.

credits

released December 2, 2013

All songs written by Michael Rattray. Copyright 2013.
Damn Fine Records / Tunecore Publishing 2013.
Recorded at Clearwater studios, Perth Concert Hall and Damn Fine Studios between 2008 - 2013

Produced by Mark McClymont and Michael Rattray at Clearwater studios, Perth. Mixed by Mark McClymont
Mastered by Pete Maher at Top Floor Mastering, Brighton.

THANK YOU TO:

All the wonderful musicians who gave their time, talent and expertise to make the songs sound their best: David Shaw, Fiona Ballantine, Ian Scobie, Owen Nicholson, Iona Marshall, Martin Hodge, Gavin Kelly, David MacFarlane, Pete Harvey, Debra Salem and the Craigie Community Choir.

Perth Concert Hall, Andy Shearer, Pete Caban and Bandwagon.
Pete at Genepool Records. Gavin Munroe and Red Pine Timber Co. All the Clearwater studios crew - Fiona, Tony, Gav, Freddie and Beth without whom I would never have completed the album. But maybe next time some of them could make the coffee instead?

Mark McClymont for endless energy and enthusiasm. The True Gents. Pete Mayer. Stuart Blance and Jamie Moffat for their photography. Chris Renton for his time with design and layout. All my family and friends for their support.

Thank you to anyone who follows me or who has supported me and my music.

This album is dedicated fondly to the memory of Jack Kelly, a wonderful musician and friend.


"How did I come into being and what is this thing called the world? Why was I not consulted? And if I am compelled to take part in it, where is the director? I want to see him."

Soren Kierkegaard

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Michael Rattray Perth

Composer, singer and artist based in Perth, Scotland.

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