Kazuo Ishiguro

Illustrated by Bianca Bagnarelli

Published by Faber

ISBN 978-0-571-37887-6

Following hot on the heels of Stacey Kent’s most recent album, Summer Me, Winter Me, is this delightful book featuring the lyrics written for Stacey by acclaimed novelist Kazuo Ishiguro.

From an initial meeting and tentative discussions about writing a lyric for Stacey, Ishiguro has gone on to write lyrics for sixteen songs for the vocalist, of which five are yet to be recorded, with music written by Jim Tomlinson.

While the Nobel prize winning Ishiguro is perhaps best known for writing novels, he admits that his first started writing song lyrics in his mid-teens, and by the time he was ready to write his first novel had written over 100 songs.

In the introduction to this beautifully presented and illustrated book, Ishiguro tells us about his approach to lyric writing as opposed to writing a work of fiction, and how he tries to capture in the few words that a song lyric will permit the attention of the listener and ensure that they ‘haunt the mind’. By this Ishiguro is indicating that in just a few words the essence of the song should be conveyed in such a way that it is not easily forgotten and lingers after the song has finished.

The novelist became aware of Stacey Kent when hearing her album, The Tender Trap that was released in 1999, and from there worked his way back through her earlier recordings. Ishiguro then selected one of her songs as one of his desert island discs when he appeared on the Radio 4 programme in 2002. As a result, Ishiguro was contacted by Stacey’s record company with an invitation to write the liner notes for her forthcoming album, In Love Again (2002).

From there on Ishiguro and his wife became friends of Stacey and husband Jim Tomlinson and in 2006 the idea of Ishiguro writing some lyrics for Stacey was broached. Accepting the offer, Ishiguro looked at how they could compose some lyrics in the style of the Songbook tradition but with a more contemporary leaning. With his penchant for writing rather sad stories, Stacey gave him one remit for his lyrics: however sad, however bleak the song became, there had to remain an element of hope.

With this in mind Kazuo Ishiguro has written lyrics for Stacey that always have glimmer of hope, and cleverly reflect the times in which we live. The music provided by Jim Tomlinson has that timeless quality to it, and Stacey knows just how to deliver a lyric.

To accompany the lyrics reproduced in the book, Italian comics artist Bianca Bagnarelli was tasked with illustrating the texts and capturing the stories within them. This she does beautifully, and her work greatly enhances the pleasure one gets from the book.

In addition, at the end of the book is a QR code giving access via your preferred streaming platform to listen to the words and music written by Kazuo Ishiguro and Jim Tomlinson, and performed by Stacey making the volume the complete visual and aural experience.

Stacey Kent:

The Summer We Crossed Europe In The Rain – The Kazuo Ishiguro / Jim Tomlinson Songbook

I wish I could go travelling again – (recorded twice): SONGS FROM OTHER PLACES + BREAKFAST ON THE MORNING TRAM

The Changing Lights – (recorded twice): THE CHANGING LIGHTS + I KNOW I DREAM: THE ORCHESTRAL SESSIONS

So Romantic – BREAKFAST ON THE MORNING TRAM

The Ice Hotel – (recorded twice): BREAKFAST ON THE MORNING TRAM + I KNOW I DREAM: THE ORCHESTRAL SESSIONS

Breakfast on the morning tram: BREAKFAST ON THE MORNING TRAM

Craigie Burn – SONGS FROM OTHER PLACES

The Summer We Crossed Europe in the Rain – THE CHANGING LIGHTS

Bullet Train – I KNOW I DREAM: THE ORCHESTRAL SESSIONS

Best Casablanca – Not yet recorded (next album)

Postcard Lovers: (recorded twice) SUMMER ME, WINTER ME + Live at La Cigale, DREAMER IN CONCERT

Catherine in Indochine – Not yet recorded (next album)

Gabin – Not yet recorded (next album)

Tango in Macau – SONGS FROM OTHER PLACES

Voyager – Not yet recorded (next album)

Waiter, oh Waiter – THE CHANGING LIGHTS

Turning Noir – Not yet recorded (next album)

Click here to listen to the songs

For more information about their collaboration:

An Evening with Kazuo Ishiguro & Stacey Kent

Saturday 30 March – Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre

 

And you can also hear Stacey Kent at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, London

Appearing on 7 – 12 May 2024