“Free” is how Florence Welch from Florence + The Machine felt after writing High as Hope, the group’s fourth studio album, set to be released Friday. She doesn’t feel the pain she endured while making their last studio album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful. Welch stopped by the SiriusXM studios to promote the album, which she clarifies is not simply a sobriety record.
“I haven’t drank for a while now, it’s been like four years, so for me it’s kind of, it’s more normal now,” Welch told SiriusXM host Jenny Eliscu. “Putting How Big, How Blue together, I was a mess, making every song was painful. It was all so painful, I was heartbroken, couldn’t figure out my stuff with booze. [High as Hope] was so free, and I don’t think, because I had not been drinking for a while, so it’s almost I wouldn’t say this was a sobriety record, but it really comes from a place of even getting underneath that because when you put the drinking down, all the other stuff is going to show up.”
Sometimes the “other stuff” that came out from Welch’s songwriting dealt with heartbreak, a topic she thinks is constantly exhausted in music. “An interesting thing that happened with this record is that I did write some songs about my kind of, I was having relationship difficulties,” she told SiriusXM’s The Spectrum host Jenny Eliscu. “We did end up breaking up. I wrote some songs about it, but I just didn’t feel like I needed to include them. I didn’t feel like people needed to hear that anymore and I think at that point there were bigger heartbreaks going on than my own heartbreak.”
After discarding the breakup ballads, what remained on the album was “Patricia,” a tribute to Patti Smith, the singer-songwriter who helped galvanize the New York City punk rock movement. “When I was thinking about this period of time, where I was trying to figure out how to live a creative life but outside of the kind of epic highs and lows…,” Welch said in another SiriusXM interview with Larry Flick. “I was reading a lot of Patti Smith’s work and I was in this little bubble, quietly making my record and I would read her writing and she would bring so much reverence to even daily life.”
When Flick told the artist that she needs to meet Smith, she laughed. “But I’m like ‘I wrote this song’ and she’s going to think I’m crazy!”