Album Review: Andy Burrows & Matt Haig - 'Reasons To Stay Alive'
As far as collaborations go, this is an incredibly interesting one. Andy Burrows started his career as Razorlight’s drummer, and has since co-written songs for artists such as Tom Odell and Jamie Lawson. He’s also certainly no stranger to collaborations, having released an album in 2011 with Editors frontman Tom Smith. Matt Haig, on the other hand, is the bestselling author of the album’s namesake ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’, an unflinchingly raw autobiographical account of a breakdown that left him on a literal cliff edge. The book explores dark themes, as you can imagine, but it’s resounding message is one of optimism, and this album is a perfect reflection of that.
Album opener ‘A Different Game’ is a colourful and bold Queen-eque track that immediately sets you off on a high. From the outset it’s pretty clear this album isn’t going to dark, brooding and full of soft piano ballads. Burrows has a unique sound and it shines through on this album. There’s not much hint of his indie rock background, and instead he hints more at influences such as Queen and Elton John. It doesn’t feel like this kind of sound should fit with Haig’s words, but Burrows makes it work.
Title track ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ has a slightly moodier vibe than other tracks, but it can be summed up in one line taken from the track itself - “the road ahead if dark, but go on just take a drive, there are so many reasons to stay alive” - this track is a resounding, beautiful message of hope.
‘Hero’ pays tribute to Haig’s wife Andrea, and tells a classic story of superman and Lois Lane played out over a pretty impressive power ballad. ‘How To Stop Time’ is the first song the pair collaborated on and takes its name from another of Matt’s books. Haig wrote the lyrics as if the books protagonist was speaking, and wraps the whole theme of the novel up in just under 5 magical minutes, weaving stories of love, loss and a dusting of time travel.
‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ lives up to it’s name, delivering the same messages of hope and wisdom as Haig’s bestseller but in such a wildly different way. Burrows has created a unique and powerful sound, and paired with Haig’s beautiful writing, there isn’t much not to like. This album is warm and optimistic, but delves into some of the darkest parts of the human mind, unashamedly exploring the subject of mental health in a refreshing and inspiring way.
Words by Megan Smith