Liver & Lung, the Malaysian-British theatre company behind Sepet The Musical, has released their third studio album today; a soundtrack inspired by Hanya Yanagihara’s award-winning novel, A Little Life.
With a mission to take local songwriting and theatre-making to global audiences, Liver & Lung hopes that this album marks a new chapter for Malaysian musical theatre.
Hanya Yanagihara’s global bestselling novel, A Little Life, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Women’s Prize For Fiction in 2015 and has sold hundreds of thousands of copies internationally. It tells the story of brilliant and enigmatic, Jude, a successful lawyer who must learn to confront his past before it defines his life forever.
In August 2020, Liver & Lung produced Malaysia’s first post-MCO musical, adapting Yanagihara’s heartbreaking story into a musical format. Now, after two years of development, and with considerable Broadway interest, they are releasing the songs from the production on all music stores for fans across the world to enjoy for free.
Songs Inspired by A Little Life features seven songs that pay homage to Jude’s story. The album blends contemporary musical theatre melodies with folk influences, sonically capturing Jude’s personal struggles, his relentless drive to be better and the pleasure and pain that comes from knowing oneself too well, or not well enough at all.
The album was composed and written by Shafeeq Shajahan, Hannah Shields and longtime Liver & Lung collaborator, Badrish. The album features vocals from Joshua Anthony Gui (Jason in Sepet The Musical) and Badrish himself. It was produced by Irena Taib (from local indie-band The Impatient Sisters).
The studio experimentation fuses Broadway-inspired string and piano arrangements with indie-pop-folk vocal stylings, mirroring the beauty of chosen friendships and the complexity of relationships in the modern world. The songs feature driving rhythmic patterns, reflecting the pulsing heart of New York City and the anxiety that characterises twenty first century living.
“We fell in love with Jude’s story the minute we read it. Hanya Yanagihara is a genius and we knew immediately that her words had a haunting and expressive musicality to it,” said Hannah Shields, co-founder of Liver & Lung. “We have invested a lot of ourselves into this album. We wanted to make sure we tackled the complexity of the source material sensitively and accurately,” she added.
“Malaysian musical theatre is thriving. The pandemic may have slowed us down but I am confident that we have the ability to move the world with Malaysian-made music,” added Shafeeq Shajahan, also co-founder. “We believe in Jude’s story and hope the album is recognised internationally, providing current and upcoming Malaysian songwriters with a platform to grow in the future.”
A revival of the stage adaptation is set to launch in London later this year.
Listeners can stream the album on Spotify or check out the pre-save link