The Corrs: A biography
Four years after their last studio album, The Corrs are back with Borrowed Heaven. A breathtakingly diverse and lyrically sophisticated collection of songs, it's an album that reflects both their growth as musicians and songwriters and a new-found maturity after the extraordinary roller-coaster ride that has made them one of the most successful acts in the world over the last decade.
When Andrea, Sharon, Caroline and Jim came off the road at the end of 2001,they had spent six years touring and recording almost without a break. Finally, the world's hardest-working band were able to devote some time to the simple pleasures the rest of us take for granted - home life, relationships, spouses and, in Caroline's case, motherhood. "We needed to get our lives back and realise there are more important things than what's going to be in the tabloids tomorrow," as Andrea puts it.
The opportunity to take stock and recharge their batteries has paid dividends.. Some 18 months in the writing and recording,Borrowed Heaven was recorded in Dublin and Los Angeles, and produced by Olle Romo, a close accomplice of Mutt Lange, who part-produced In Blue, The Corrs' last studio album.
Borrowed Heaven finds the Corrs exploring new avenues both musically and lyrically but retains the feel for melody and the accessible charm that lay at the heart of their original success. "We just went for it and didn't give up until every detail was right," Andrea says, and that attention to detail includes the title, Borrowed Heaven, a key to the album's theme: "It's the time that we have. The place where we are. Right here and right now - that's heaven. All that is light and dark, all that is beautiful and ugly, all pleasure and all pain are transient. We have to live for today."
finds the Corrs exploring new avenues both musically and lyrically but retains the feel for melody and the accessible charm that lay at the heart of their original success. "We just went for it and didn't give up until every detail was right," Andrea says, and that attention to detail includes the title, Borrowed Heaven, a key to the album's theme: "It's the time that we have. The place where we are. Right here and right now - that's heaven. All that is light and dark, all that is beautiful and ugly, all pleasure and all pain are transient. We have to live for today."
The Corrs may have sold 30 million records around the globe, but Borrowed Heaven is the sound of a band pushing and striving to top past achievements. This time around, all four contributed to the songwriting. It's an approach that has been remarkably successful: "Everybody throws in their ideas and I think that's what makes the album sound so different," says Sharon.
The opener 'Summer Sunshine' - the first single from Borrowed Heaven - was written by Andrea. "It's funny how you always know when you have a single," Sharon says. "When we heard that song we all knew instantly." It's an utterly infectious summer single and instantly recognisable as a Corrs' hit, but there is another side to the track, as Andrea makes clear: "it sounds happy and summery, but is also quite a sad song. It's the story of a secret love that you can never quite get over. A forbidden love that lives on in your head."
'Angel' was written by Andrea and Caroline about their late mother Jean, to whom - along with their father Gerry - the album is dedicated. "It's an appreciation of everything she gave us and inspired us to be," Andrea says. The atmospheric 'Hideaway' was written for a friend of Sharon's who was having a hard time, while she describes 'Long Night' as "a break-up song about the heartache of still being in love but being alone." The moving 'Goodbye' is Sharon's tribute to her mother, "never thinking one day she'd be gone."
'Time Enough For Tears', the one song not written by the band, was composed by Bono, ex-Virgin Prune Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer for the Jim Sheridan film In America. "They were in Dublin and I was with them when they started writing the song," Andrea recalls. "Then I had to go to LA, so they were calling me and singing it down the phone and texting me the lyrics," she recalls. The result is not only a stunning song but one of the best vocals Andrea has ever recorded. Astonishingly, it was done in one take.
'Humdrum' is an arrangement by Jim with melody and lyrics by Andrea. "It was meant to be a nice song originally," she laughs. "Then it got progressively nastier about having all these dreams and how they can end up becoming humdrum."
'Even If' is considerably more cheerful, about "the elation of being in love", while the album's title track is particularly close to Andrea's heart. "Everybody's waiting for the next life but my belief is we all have the possibility of heaven within us," she says. The track also features South Africa's Ladysmith Black Mambazo, with whom the Corrs sang at Nelson Mandela's 46664 aids charity concert in Cape Town last year at his request. The band are a particular favourite of President Mandela's, performing for him no less than four times in the last year.
'Confidence For Quiet' was the first song Andrea came up with for the record. "You always have an anxiety about starting a new album and it's me looking for excuses and saying ‘I'm going to give this up. I've done my time'," she says. Ironically, it set her off on a rich vein that saw her writing or co-writing seven of the album's dozen songs.
'Baby Be Brave' is one of the record's most intriguing compositions, with a lyric by Andrea loosely inspired by two seemingly unconnected themes: a newspaper article about Jerusalem's Wailing Wall and rockstar Ryan Adams. From these unlikely subjects comes a beautiful song about having faith in one's own abilities: "I believe that what you have to do in life is to do the very thing that most terrifies us. It's about being brave enough to attempt to live up to your potential."
The album concludes with 'Silver Strand', written by Caroline and Sharon years ago while recording the first album in Malibu. "We wanted a traditional element and we remembered the tune. It's important for us to have a real Irish flavour on the album. Part of us would be missing without it," Sharon says.
For despite all their international success, The Corrs' roots remain firmly planted in Ireland. Born and raised as a close-knit family in Dundalk, they all played instruments from an early age. In 1990 they appeared in Alan Parker's film The Commitments when Caroline and Andrea were still in school. Before long they were gigging regularly around Dublin. Their break came in 1995 when on their first trip to America, they door-stepped top producer David Foster at a Michael Jackson session and asked for an audition. Foster was sufficiently impressed to agree to produce their first album, Forgiven Not Forgotten. Released in 1996 , it went multi-platinum in Canada, Ireland, Australia, Spain, New Zealand, Denmark and the UK and gold almost everywhere else around the world.
Their second album, Talk On Corners, appeared in 1997, by which time The Corrs were in huge demand, appearing at a Christmas concert in the Vatican, selling out London's Albert Hall on St Patrick's Day, singing with Pavarotti, opening for the Rolling Stones and performing at the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games. Talk On Corners became the biggest selling British album of 1998 and at one point, their first two albums achieved the Beatles-like feat of occupying the top two places in the UK chart. Talk On Corners eventually went platinum or multi-platinum in 22 different territories and gold in countless others.
1999 saw an MTV Unplugged set before their third studio album, In Blue was released in 2000. It swiftly repeated the multi-platinum success of its predecessors. The following year came a timely Best Of The Corrs that included such hits as 'So Young', 'Runaway', 'Dreams', 'What Can I Do', 'Breathless' and 'Give Me A Reason'.
Now, with Borrowed Heaven, the Corrs have made their most accomplished album to date. "I think it's the best we've ever done. There's an incredible range of styles and moods and I think it really flows," Andrea says.
"I said the same last time, but I really do think this is our best," Sharon agrees. "At least, until the next one."
--Courtesy of Atlantic Records
--- from the official Corrs website