‘Nobody talks about difficult things’, sings Melanie Horsnell on ‘How am I Supposed to be a Mother’, the new single from the Golden Guitar nominated trio The New Graces. Except on their debut, self-titled album The New Graces did, in fact, talk about difficult things – they just did it, as they do in this new song, in such a way that there’s no judgement, nor any false hope, just beautiful pragmatism about how life works and sometimes doesn’t work. This new song is a continuation of that ethos from the album and also offers something new, as Horsnell sings movingly about her own experiences of motherhood, supported by bandmates Kate Burke and Robyn Martin, with Burke’s violin delivering a heartbreakingly poignant sound out of the bridge.
‘How am I Supposed to be a Mother’ is the first of three to be released from the Open Heart Sessions, recorded by Shane Nicholson. Recorded on Mother’s Day this year, and written just a week before, Horsnell says of its creation, ‘I was sweeping up at work thinking about songs and mothering and a little overwhelmed by everything when the line “how am I supposed to be a mother” came to mind, in despair and also in a longing to be a really good one. It’s difficult to describe as it’s all in the lyric, which came out by candlelight at the kitchen table that night – firstly all the worries one has, and then the beautiful things our children say to us when we really feel like giving up hope.’
The song’s refrain swings between ‘we will survive’ and ‘we’ll be all right’, and Horsnell makes it sound as if those two outcomes are not that far apart sometimes. In the end, though, despite the doubt expressed in the song’s title, this is a story of love and dedication by Horsnell to her children and theirs to her.
The single’s release was accompanied by a video filmed during the recording process, showing each of the band’s members on their instruments, bringing this special song to life.