Ward Thomas could tell that change was afoot from the moment they wrote Cartwheels, now the punch-to-the-stomach title track of their sensational second album. Straight away the sisters knew the song was special.
What they didn’t know was that their second album ‘Cartwheels’ would sail to #1 on the UK Album Chart on release making them the first ever UK country act to do so.
Cartwheels was written two years ago, at a session in Nashville during the campaign for 2014’s ‘From Where We Stand’, the duo’s unexpectedly successful debut album, begun for fun while they were at school and released as an experiment on their own label.
After a debut EP caught the ears of some of country music’s biggest stars, among them 20 times Grammy Award winner Vince Gill, From Where We Stand was completed and recorded in Nashville, but remained distinctively British.
The remainder of the new album was written and recorded in London, produced largely by Martin Terefe (KT Tunstall, Jason Mraz, Shawn Mendes), and partly by Jimmy Hogarth (Amy Winehouse, Paolo Nutini, Sia). Cartwheels wasn’t just the first track in the bag, it inspired what was to follow.
“It established our new sound,” says Lizzy. “Lyrically, it was much more grown-up than anything on our debut. Sonically, it was a move away from country to lots of other influences we grew up with – Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, KT Tunstall, some Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift’s Red album. We’re still influenced by country, we still adore the Dixie Chicks and Kacey Musgraves, but this isn’t just a country album.”
Producer Martin Terefe was chosen for his work with KT Tunstall amongst others, although only in the studio did the sisters discover that he had co-written Other Side Of The World, the first song they performed together in public as kids. Terefe helped them find the sound that suited each song, including using a blanket to muffle the piano on Who I’m Not. The sessions were completed with Jimmy Hogarth, who recorded several of the songs straight to tape, with live band and vocals.
“Our only worry is that blanket,” laughs Lizzy. “Heaven knows how we’re going to recreate that piano sound on stage, but it’ll be fun finding out.”