Exeter-based singer/songwriter REBECCA WORTHLEY is a musician wrestling with deep issues. Clare Spencer reports.
For lovers of deftly crafted acoustic pop a new name, Devon-based singer/songwriter Rebecca Worthley is one well worth acquainting oneself with. Her debut 2004 EP 'Mysteries Calm' brought forth an enthusiastic review with the Cross Rhythms reviewer calling it "a breath of fresh air" and now her first full album, 'Myths And Elegies', is already picking up considerable interest. Both recordings were co-produced by her husband, guitarist Andrew, who when not twiddling faders works as a barrister. Tony Cummings spoke to Rebecca when she came to the Cross Rhythms office to film an interview for God TV. He began by asking Rebecca about the theme of her album.
"Elegy is a lament and there are quite a few songs that are sort of reflecting that edge but at the same time there are some very hopeful songs. When I am talking about myth I am mostly looking at myths in our society. One of the songs, 'Myths Of Competition', is sort of challenging this myth that we all have to be individuals. I want to say that people can be in solidarity with one another and that we don't have to exist in this way, that our society is set up where it's each to their own and that there is another way."
So how does this radical message match up with Rebecca's life? "I believe very strongly in community and the importance of existing with one another and I think that that's a big part of Jesus' message to love one another and to exist in a community where you depend on each another and you are vulnerable to one another."
In reality, Rebecca is feeling the strain of carrying out her goal of cooperative living in Devon. She explained, "We are trying to do this thing of living alongside one another and it's a big challenge. You have to start being really honest, you have to start really opening up to each other and it's hard work. You have to be committed to each other and be there for one another when you're not necessarily feeling like it. In our group, we also try to be accountable to each other in terms of how we are living our lives. That's very practical in terms of how we are spending our money and how much shopping we are doing - very, very practical and very real and that's how we want to keep it."
The challenge to bring up these complicated messages in upbeat pop songs has been met head on in 'Myths And Elegies'. "With one song you can only do so much and there's always the thing that different people get something different out of every song and people will understand things that I meant in one way in a different way and you've just got to live with that. But I can just only convey what I think is truth, embodied truth and hope that gets out there."
So what is meant by truth in this album? Rebecca responded, "God is truth and Jesus embodies truth, so truth can be a person or a way of living rather than an absolute fact."
Rebecca cites her musical influences as Sarah McLachlain, Alanis Morrissette and, in the Christian music sphere, Ginny Owens. However, support far closer to home started her music career. Rebecca reminisced for a moment on her upbringing, "My dad's a Church of England vicar. He would play the piano while my family would gather for a sing song. It was a very musical upbringing; we are sort of a bit like the Von Trapp Family Singers!"
Rebecca was born in Reading and grew up in Tunbridge Wells. She started performing in public with her childhood sweetheart who moved in next door to her in Tunbridge Wells when she was 11. "I've always shared music with Andrew. We've been doing that since I was writing songs - just going into our local church and using the microphones and doing some terrible, terrible recordings." Andrew is now Rebecca's husband and creative partner. She denies there is any tension in working so closely together; "We have been doing it together for a long time so we've sort of sussed that sort of relationship. Andrew's got a great musical ear and lots of brilliant ideas so we spark off together really well."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.