Songwriter extraordinaire Debbie Hennessey is back once again with yet another beautifully well-rounded, heartfelt and colorful pop-rock single “True Me”. The single is gorgeously easy-going, and drives with that same sense of optimism and love for life that always seems to stand tall in Debbie’s writing. The overall sound and style lean off in its own notably folk-pop-like direction. This artistic choice works beautifully considering the context and the story-line. “True Me” is easily and absolutely one of the best and most memorable alternative, organic songs 2019 has seen so far. A stunning performance from Debbie compliments superbly poetic and thoughtful writing flawlessly. Such a simple hook but beautiful, powerful, and gorgeously uplifting. The soundscape builds subtly too, reinforce that rising brightness, towards the ultimate outpouring of self-love. “True Me” is a strong introduction to Debbie Hennessey who has a clear skill for songwriting, a simple yet effective musical approach, and most likely an impressive live show.
Debbie Hennessey has seen much success in her impressive career. Most notably, she was named AC40 Female Artist of the Year by New Music Weekly as well as charting a Top 20 Hit on NMW’s AC40 Charts. Debbie's three full-length albums and seven singles are all available through many music platforms!
Check out “True Me” here and read more with Debbie Hennessey in our interview!
Hi Debbie, thanks for the interview! "True Me" blends a beautiful melody with meaningful lyricism. What can you tell us about what this particular release means to you?
Thank you for having me! Naturally, I like to think all my releases are special for one reason or another. They are like my kids. With the help of some incredible musicians, I put my heart and soul into each of them and then release them into the world. "True Me" is special for a few reasons. It is the first song with producer/co-writer/guitarist Jonathan Hayes. Jon and I have wanted to work together for a while, and the timing was finally right. When we met for the first writing session, Jon surprised me by having spent time familiarizing himself with the ins and outs of my voice and creating a beautiful melody that was perfect for me. "True Me" is one of those songs where everything just flowed. We had the lyrics for the first verse and chorus before the end of the session. The second verse and the rest of the song came quickly after that.
"True Me" is also special for being my first release since the No Longer Broken CD. For me, this song is about transformation and transition, and that has certainly been the case with my life since the release of No Longer Broken.
How long have you been writing songs and making music, and how does this project differ from what you've done before?
I think this song is just the next step for me as an artist. It's different in tone, softer sonically, but lyrically it's emotionally deeper. The protagonist has been through some serious heartbreak, but her heart is still open to what's next. It probably sounds funny for me to talk in the third person when describing a song, but it helps me stay open to what's best for the song. While there is always a part of me in each one, they aren't a blow-by-blow account of my life. When I sit down with a co-writer, it becomes a story we are telling, and whatever supports the story gets to stay in the lyric. I will fight for something that I want to say, but as a writer, you have to look at the overall story. I want people to be able to relate their own experiences to my songs.
I have been singing as long as I can remember. The first time I performed in public, I was 13, I made my first recordings by 18, and I've been doing it ever since. Songwriting has been a slower process. I wrote lyrics as a kid, and I'm pretty sure they were horrible. I focused mainly on singing for a long time before getting serious about writing. I had only one co-write on the first CD, "Rustic Heart," and two on "Good As Gone." The single, "Believe," is original, and I co-wrote eight of the nine songs on "No Longer Broken." Over the last dozen years, I have written and recorded other songs that are either for film/TV or different types of placements. The genres for these vary - Pop, SingerSongwriter, Blues, Country, AAA, etc. Two were created to sound like they were written and recorded in the 1920/1930's. They are two of my favorites, and I'd love to do more era-specific writing. Most of these songs aren't available commercially, but people can check them out on my website.
How does the songwriting and recording process compare to live performance for you?
I love both the studio and performing, but the studio is my favorite. It's certainly a lot less immediate pressure than a live show! I love the collaborative and creative process the studio provides. It's intuitive for me, even with all the technical components. When someone comes up with the perfect line, lick, or sound, you can't beat that OMG yes, feeling in your gut. But that's usually after you write the song. I seem to spend more time alone when writing than I would like. Once a co-writer and I have a basic idea of what we want to do, I'll usually work on melody and lyrics at home and send stuff over to the co-writer for input. Thankfully I can write from anything - a musical or lyrical idea, a beat, a melody, a title. You name it, and I've started a song from it. My favorites are when I have a full, or almost complete chorus going into a session. I'm all about the hook. Hooks and harmonies have been my favorite part of a song since I was a kid. Singing is my first love, but I need all of the components of music - writing, recording, performing - to be happy.
You're an artist with quite an impressive list of accomplishments! What has been your most memorable achievement as an artist?
Nothing beats having even just one person tell you they love your music, and each release is an accomplishment due to the amount of work it takes, but being named "New Music Weekly's AC40 Female Artist of the Year" is still surreal. "Rustic Heart" was my first CD, and the first time I did a radio campaign, so nothing like an award had even crossed my mind. The nominees for my category - chosen by radio programmers and DJ's - were a mix of indie and major artists, including Sarah McLachlan and Sheryl Crow. That was honor enough, but when they called my name at the awards show, it was a bit of a shock. It was a big boost for an indie artist. Awards are nice, but never my goal. I focus on creating and giving the very best of myself to a performance or a song. That's what really counts. Knowing I put everything I had into my music is the reward, no matter the outcome. However, when I do start to doubt myself, I use that one in particular as a subtle reminder that I'm on the right path.
"True Me" is flooded with absolute passion and emotion. What emotions were crucial to channel when creating this song?
For me, it is the visuals of the lyrics that make it so emotional. "A one-way road, no lights to see where to go, I have to make it alone," in the first verse and, "I thought I was home, but storms washed away the stone, your words cut me to the bone," in the second. Those lines are so visceral for me. I see and feel them. I lived them, we all have. I'm very visual when I'm writing or creating. It's like a movie in my head, and it's my job to translate that into words. That is the challenging part.
As I mentioned, it just flowed with this song. The melody and lyrics on this song are locked so tightly together you feel it in your gut, and it made me, and I think Jon, a little emotional at times. Singing it feels amazing physically and emotionally, and that is due to how well Jon's melody fits my voice.
I also like the twist, especially in the last chorus, "The true me isn't lost or lonely." That touch of hope tends to happen quite a bit in my writing. Even if the song is sad, in most cases, I find some hope. It's not intentional. It's not I must insert something hopeful. It happens naturally. And, it cracks up my friends that know me well since I can tend to be a bit cranky at times.
Thank you so much for chatting with us! What's next for you, artistically?
More writing and recording. Jon and I have started on another song we are excited about that will be released as a single, probably early next year. I'm still working on some fun stuff for "True Me." I want to do a lyric video for it, and we have a limited number of CD's available with both the full song and the instrumental-only versions. There is also a very limited edition package that includes a butterfly necklace or bracelet to match the butterfly on the CD artwork. As I mentioned, the song represents a transformation to me, and the butterfly is a perfect representation of that idea to me.
Also, I'm juggling several other songs with different co-writers that are in various stages of completion. Some are for film/TV or to pitch to other artists. Some may end up as a release from me. It just depends.
I am going to release some of my photography for the first time finally. Many people don't know that the artwork on most of my releases contains photos I have taken. The covers for "Believe" and "Hallelujah" are mine. "Rustic Heart," "Good As Gone," and "No Longer Broken" all have photos by me, as do some of my Christmas releases.