The arrival of an artist like Lucy Schwartz is a rare thing to witness.
On the surface, she may appear to some as simply another singer/songwriter, girl at the piano. But upon closer examination, there’s something more afoot.
First of all, consider the quality of the songwriting. The first time I heard her I was listening to a full album of songs she’d written at 16 or 17 years old. I had to check the writing credits on a couple of the songs (“June” and “Paper Plane”) just to be sure I wasn’t listening to a cover of an old standard. They were that good.
Then I had the pleasure of working on a feature film with writer/director Diane English. One of our producers on the project was Mick Jagger. As the music supervisor, I had been approaching the finest female artists in the world in search of the perfect end credit for the film, with no success.
I decided to pass along a copy of the rough cut to Lucy. She was 18 at the time. Within a week she sent me a new original demo which I shared with the director. “This is it!”, she exclaimed. “Who is this girl?”
That question has been put to me many times since that moment. “Who is this girl?”
A few weeks after delivering the end credit, I went to Lucy again just to see if she might have any ideas for the opening credit. Again, within the week she delivered a song that won the spot for the opening sequence as well. At 18, she had created two songs that bookended a major feature film that also included the artistry of Annie Lennox, Feist, Little Dragon, Goldfrapp, and KT Tunstall, among others, all with the blessing of Mick Jagger. Something more was definitely afoot.
Since then, she released a second album Life in Letters, produced by Mitchell Froom, which caught the attention of Lenny Waronker who has long since been a champion. She also wrote (or co-wrote) and recorded original songs for Shrek Forever After, Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Parenthood (the TV series), Mother and Child, and What Maisie Knew, to name a few.
Now she’s releasing her third album, Timekeeper – far and away her best. The little girl has come of age. “Ghost in My House” is exhilarating and electric. “Boomerang” is inventive McCartney-esque pop. “In the Arms” is a love song Chris Martin might have written, and the title song is simply sublime.
She has a voice, yes, and she knows her way around a piano. But the real test for me is the quality of the songwriting. In Lucy’s case, I have yet to hear a song of hers that I haven’t liked. And there are only a handful of artists I can think of that I can say that about. That’s just who she is.