Donna Lewis: "Sandcastles (Live On After Hours)"
From's Collection Of Music To Note

United States of America By: Jase Luttrell on 11 March 2011
Category: Music > Music To Note Comments View Comments


The free download of "Sandcastles" is a rare glimpse into a live performance by Welsh singer-songwriter Donna Lewis. Mostly known for rich productions and layered soundscapes, this live recording is the opposite: stark and full of despair, yet hauntingly beautiful and captivating.

Donna LewisThough most people remember Donna Lewis as the singer of the 1996 pop hit "I Love You Always Forever", she has been recording and releasing albums steadily, collaborating with other artists as a guest vocalist, and is the lead singer of Chute with David Torn. An album version of "Sandcastles" was first made available as the final track from her 2008 release In The Pink.

The lyrics of this mesmerising song are poignant and pensive, and describe a relationship that is slowly falling apart. There are a number of lines that are very descriptive and tell the story of not being heard in the relationship. The first line "I need to say what’s on my mind" exemplifies this, as does the second verse, which includes the lines "I call your name inside the walls... / ... a scream machine out in the cold." The final lines "and I’m aching to be heard / I lost my voice for love" show that the protagonist in the story has compromised very much, to the point of losing her identity. Finally, the chorus of "do you wanna see me weak / do you wanna see me broken / do you wanna let me go" depicts the protagonist as strong willed but deeply hurt. Though never mentioning the word "sandcastles" in the lyrics, it is fairly safe to assume that the title serves as a metaphor for a crumbling relationship.

The song is slow with a jazz lilt, and the melody is very simplistic, but catchy. Overall, the electric piano alternates between playing the melody and assisting with the plodding rhythm. The electric guitar provides subtle, atmospheric chords and, in some instances, imitates a sweeping synthesizer sound. The drums are subtle and soft; almost imperceptible, and the brushes on the snare contribute to the jazz feel.

The live version of "Sandcastles" is very similar to the album version but there are some notable differences. First, there are no harmony vocals; this contributes to the bereft and forlorn subject of the lyrics, and enhances the loneliness that the protagonist feels. Some of the instrumentation is absent from the album version, such as the tubular bells, electric-guitar riff, and layered synth sounds, but this absence does not detract from the live version.

Donna Lewis is known for her unique voice and breathy vocals, and it is remarkable to hear these come through on a live recording. This vocal ability, and her impressive control of her voice, creates a lush soundscape in the live version, which evokes the ambient nature of her studio recordings.

If you like the sound and feel of "Sandcastles", you can purchase In The Pink to hear the album version (see the shopping links below), which also includes a re-recording of the smash-hit "I Love You Always Forever".

Music Donna Lewis: "Sandcastles" (Live On After Hours)
Download Download: "Sandcastles" (Live On After Hours) [4.93 MB MP3; 48 000 Hz/160 Kbps ]

Key Facts: "Sandcastles" (Live On After Hours)
Live Mix: Stuart Breed
Keyboards, Vocals: Donna Lewis
Guitar: Gerry Leonard
Drums: Doug Yowell
Bass: Jeff Allen
Year: Unknown (circa 2010)
Track Length: 04:18

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