Steve Winwood’s daughter is all grown up and making great music of her own.
If Lilly Winwood were to label her music, she’d call it “singer-songwriter and Americana — with hints of blues and folk. My music is very lyrics-centered and I try to create songs that listeners can relate to.”
As for what she herself is labeled? “Steve Winwood’s daughter.”
Not that she minds. And not that the label persists for long after you hear her singing her own songs.
This is an artist who doesn’t need her famous dad’s coattails.
With her own music garnering great reviews in advance of the January 29 release of her debut record, Time Well Spent, Winwood’s been gearing up and dropping acoustic videos.
We’re premiering one right here for the song “Bruno.”
We caught up with the 22-year-old Winwood at her home in East Nashville to talk about the new video and new record.
Cowboys & Indians: It’s pretty early in your career to nail things down. Your music right now has a lot of country rock and Americana elements — pedal steel, mandolin. How have you arrived at this particular sound at this time in your life?
Lilly Winwood: I fell in love with classic country a few years ago and my style and sound have evolved into that as my music and songwriting matured. I’m also so obsessed with the pedal steel — it’s a gorgeous instrument.
C&I: Sorry to do this to you, but what was it like growing up the daughter of Steve Winwood?
Winwood: Very normal! He’s a great dad. My dad was and still is very supportive and always helped me (as well as my siblings) with music and pushed us to practice as much as we could.
C&I: Was becoming a musician yourself an inevitability?
Winwood: In a way, yes, because I can never remember a definitive time where I thought to myself, I want to be a musician when I grow up. I was always around music as a kid, and when I got to the point in my life where I had to choose a career path, I wanted to show the world my songs and it just fit!
C&I: Did you ever consider being/doing anything else?
Winwood: I studied sociology as well as philosophy and ethics in school, so perhaps something that those categories fall into.
C&I: We’re premiering a video of an acoustic version of your song “Bruno.” Talk a little about the song.
Winwood: “Bruno” is a very metaphorical song about falling for the wrong thing/person. You may have a situation where everything is going right for you in your life because you’ve found you’re sticking to a “safe” option, where “Bruno” is this figurative character that you know is bad for you, but you can’t help but want it.
C&I: What’s your favorite part of the lyrics and the music?
Winwood: I’ve always been quite fond of the lyrics at the beginning of the second verse: “I’ve smoked for better or for worse.” It adds a bit of humor to the song. My favorite part of the music is the little intro riff into the verses and at the end of the chorus — it gets your toes tapping.
C&I: Tell us about putting the video together during the pandemic.
Winwood: It was definitely strange, but we all did our part to stay safely distanced and wore masks when we could.
C&I: What are a couple of fond memories from the creation and production of your forthcoming album, Time Well Spent.
Winwood: I have been dreaming about the studio that I recorded in and going back there to record more! We played everything down in one beautiful big room at High Cotton Recording Studio in Nashville, owned by the amazing Chad and Rachal Davis. The sound, the smells, the ambience — everything!
C&I: You write really personal autobiographical lyrics. What’s it like making yourself vulnerable like that?
Winwood: The writing process is the hardest part. Finding emotion/feeling deep inside you that you’re willing to put on paper. I have no problem sharing once it’s written down.
C&I: What are some of the songs, who are some of the singers you sang along to growing up as you were coming to realize you really were a singer?
Winwood: Oh, man, I had quite possibly the strangest, most diverse music taste growing up. I loved Avril Lavigne, but I also loved Guns & Roses, and I also really loved jam bands and the Allman Brothers. I can’t pinpoint one singer that pushed me to realize I was a singer.
C&I: How did you learn the instruments you play?
Winwood: A lot of practice! I had a guitar teacher growing up who was my favorite guy ever. His name was Tony Close, and he had hair down to his knees and was such a role model to me as an aspiring 8-year-old guitar player!
C&I: What’s your songwriting process like?
Winwood: Slow. I tend to have ideas come to me, and dwell on the idea but never quite finish the song in one sitting. I almost always come back to the song if I think it’s finished and try to find ways I can say/sing/play things differently.
C&I: Talk about recording your duet of “Higher Love” with your dad in 2016.
Winwood: So even though it came out in 2016, I think I recorded it back in 2014. We were kind of just messing around in the studio to see if we could come up with a slower version. I remember I had a cold. That’s why I sound different in that recording than anything else I’ve ever recorded.
C&I: You’re originally from Gloucestershire, England, but spent summers as a kid in Nashville. What made you choose to settle in East Nashville? What’s your life like there?
Winwood: I couldn’t be more amazed with East Nashville every day. It’s such an amazing community of talented and like-minded individuals that care and boost one another toward success. I don’t see myself leaving anytime soon.
C&I: When it’s safe to hit the road again, where are you looking forward to going out West?
Winwood: Somewhere warm! Hopefully California near the beach.