Sinead Harnett's evolution as an artist has been really rewarding to watch as a fan.
Having cut her teeth contributing stunning vocal performances to chart-dominating producers such as Rudimental, Disclosure, Kaytranada, Snakehips, Sonny Fodera, DJ Q, Shy FX and more in the first half of the 2010s, she spent the second half of the decade blossoming into a top flight artist in her own right. The first of those solo singles came in 2013 with "Got Me", and this kicked off a string of deeply thoughtful, introspective soul songs. Following her debut album, 2017's Chapter One, Harnett has released her second full-length, Lessons In Love—a carefully-curated project of predominantly new cuts, but with one or two pulled from the archives for a 12-tracker that connects her past with her future.
The first taste of the album came back in August when she dropped off the visuals for lead single, "Pulling Away" with R&B crooner Gallant. Shot on location in Los Angeles, the Andre Muir-directed video was a smooth and airy introduction to the album that gave us the first signs of some of the themes that would appear on the LP, namely love and heartbreak. In the case of "Pulling Away", Harnett and Gallant focused on the idea of self-love, but the remaining 11 tracks would explore love in all its forms with, she hopes, a few lessons to learn along the way too.
Here, Sinead Harnett breaks down every track on Lessons In Love, explaining more about the theme of love and how it plays into each track.
"How could I not open the album with this song title? Very fitting! One of the scariest times in life is becoming vulnerable to love again, after so many failed attempts. It was almost like I knew I was going to get hurt, but I couldn't help how I was falling; deeper and deeper. And so this worrying feeling is what the song was all about. I, like most people, have loved and lost a lot, but we're always left with valuable lessons. At this point in my life, I feel like I'm done with lessons and loss. I just want someone to love me the way I've worked so hard to love myself: with respect, honesty and a willingness to grow. I hope my single fans sing this at the top of their lungs after meeting someone new."
"Though there are sombre experiences I've written about, my nephew gave me light to share with this one. I don't know what it is, but sadness is such an inspiring place for me to write from. Maybe it's because I need the therapy from it, or maybe it's because that's the type of music that moves me the most... It's just what naturally provokes me. With 'Leo Bear', contrastingly, I was in utter euphoria. I'd never had a baby in the family, nor been an auntie before, and I felt a type of love I hadn't ever felt. I'm just so happy he exists."
"Pulling Away" f/ Gallant
"I never really learnt the importance of boundaries when I was younger, so it's been such a learning curve in development as an adult. One thing I've had to force myself to understand is that it is okay to cut people out. Though the song was inspired by a specific betrayal, it sort of represented all senses of betrayal I've faced. It's like this song was the birthing of a stronger woman. I had to step away from the drama and the bullshit in order to grow. And I learnt that if you accept being hurt by someone, they will probably do it again. And if you accept it, you are hurting yourself."
"If You Let Me" f/ GRADES
"This song felt like a massive chapter in my solo journey and something clicked where I finally started to trust myself as a writer. I'd been writing for years but had so little confidence in myself that I would always assume it 'wasn't good enough' and that I should get a second opinion. It's like I just hadn't let it flow in a way before like I did with this song. They say that artists are vessels, and John Lennon said his best songs wrote themselves. I was so down when I wrote 'If You Let Me' and thought saving the relationship I'd lost was the answer. Funny looking back now, I realise it was saving myself that was gonna lead me to true happiness."
"I had so much fun making 'No Pressure'. It's light-hearted, cheeky, and was written at a time I wanted to think less in love, and just be. I used to get so afraid in relationships, even in the one I'm in now. Scared about where it was going, whether it could last. But I've just learnt to live in the moment more and this song is definitely in that realm."
"All That You Are"
"I was with someone who I could feel was putting on a front, and it was grating on the relationship. He made arguments out of nothing as a way of covering up his own insecurities. I just wanted to write a love song about celebrating who we are together, rather than pretending to be something perfect for one another."
"Be The One (Interlude)"
"When I first started seeing my boyfriend, I swear I was on cloud 9. I felt like a teenager again! That sweet, innocent, nothing-could-ever-compare-to-this feeling type love. And I couldn't really believe it because I thought I'd grown bitter from past experiences. I thought it wasn't gonna be possible. I wanna be the one was me simply saying, I don't want this feeling to stop."
"I love '80s music and fell in love with the synth sound when making 'By Myself', and I didn't wanna try too hard to be poetic or cryptic on this song. This is me admitting to myself that staying with someone just to avoid being alone isn't the way to go, but I knew I'd fallen into that trap before... Can't live with, can't live without, love."
"Too Good For A Bad Thing"
"This is my apology song. My sorry to all the 'good guys' I wasn't quite ready for—they haven't all been frogs. There were some princes I actually let down. When you don't love the person you are, it's really hard to let someone love you. I remember how scared I felt when I could see someone's care for me in their eyes. Listening to this one, I see my younger self so clearly; all that guilt I carried, all that shame. I would push away good people because I couldn't understand that I deserved to have them around. Writing this song helped me let go of the notion that I'm a bad thing, and get to a place where I finally feel love for myself."
"'Him Too' is probably the most difficult song I've written. It's pretty self-explanatory. Moving on is complicated, and that's for everyone—the ex, the person moving on, and the new partner. I'm someone who feels empathy probably on too deep a level. I really don't mean that to sound like I think I'm something special, or some sort of saint—I just feel things a little too much. I felt bad that someone's loss had become my gain, that I'd fallen for someone who still had someone else that loved him. Though there was no cheating involved, I still felt like a bad person, because someone was heartbroken."
"Losing love is excruciating. An impossible feeling. Horrible! Describing that is what wrote this song. On reflection though, I've learnt that the only person I actually NEED is myself. Having a partner is a wonderful bonus, but it can't be the be-all and end-all of your happiness. It's just that life is that little bit better when you do have someone to love."
"'Walking Away'! I had to close the album with this song because it was the final lesson I learnt in love, and the most important. Work, work and work some more on loving yourself. It won't happen overnight. Meditate, exercise, find your passion—then run at it a million miles. Of course, there are still down days as well as up days, but I finally realised the whole 'you can only love properly, once you learn to love yourself' notion. And so this song was about never departing from myself again. Never undermining myself again. Sticking with myself, as she's all I've really got. Sheer self-acceptance! It's been hard, but I've gotten there. Throughout this album, I want my fans to let go of any of their painful experiences that might relate to my words, and to ultimately embark or continue on their journey to self-love. I don't know, maybe one day I'll have a talk show so I can explain more [laughs]."