There are plenty of incredible singers who don't write their own songs and that's cool. Being an exceptional singer is more than enough, especially if you have connections to great songs.
I don't think I could ever record songs that I didn't write. I enjoy the lyric-writing process too much. I also think my songs are quite distinguishable as being mine; interpreting another writer's words would feel strange.
R&B, my favourite genre since I was a kid, is a type of music carried by emotive vocal performances that mesmerised and inspired me. They still do. I remember hearing Boyz II Men and Toni Braxton and Dangeorus-era Michael Jackson songs on TV and trying to imitate those vocal choices. The distinct voices of R&B are faultless.
One aspect of the genre I've been less enthusiastic about was its lyricism. Because it's so focused on love (falling in it, falling out of it) there is a commonality to the word and rhyme choices. Words I understood but didn't necessarily love.
This was especially true when I listened to ballads where the protagonist would often proclaim that they were so deeply in love, their life would end if the relationship did. They made big, bold statements of unconditional love.
I sometimes found this saccharine and cloying. Maybe I just didn't relate.
"It's not that I'm disingenuous
But I had to make you think
You couldn't get the best of me"
This, the opening line to How I Got Over, track 5 on the Lost Boy album, is an accurate account of my attitude after a break up. When I was told how 'well' I handled our relationship ending, I thought: good. Perfect. That's what I wanted you to think.
I had no intention of allowing anyone to see I was heartbroken, thanks very much. Just like I sing as I head into that first chorus, "I wouldn't give you the satisfaction."
Not very mature, I get that. And really not healthy, I get that, too. You'll be pleased to know I handle emotions like an adult these days.
Still, I really like How I Got Over. It's the petty break-up song that works well in the early stages of heartache. Plus, it is, ironically, one of the more honest lyric sheets I've written.