Love Can Heal is the ninth track to be released from the album i/o, arriving on the second full moon of August 2023. The full moon release on Thursday 31 August is the Bright-Side Mix by Mark ‘Spike’ Stent.
Written and produced by Peter Gabriel, Love Can Heal is ‘a dreamy, experiential piece with some abstract imagery,’ says Gabriel, ‘a carpet of sound, a tapestry where things are woven together, but not necessarily supposed to stick out, but just form part of a whole.’
Love Can Heal is a song that has been performed during the recent i/o tour, but actually had its live premiere during Peter Gabriel and Sting’s Rock, Paper, Scissors tour of North America of 2016.
‘Love Can Heal was written around 2016 and I did start playing it midway through the tour and dedicated it to Jo Cox, who was the British MP brutally murdered by an extremist and someone that I had met at a leadership conference. I think the song fits right in to the themes of the album in the sense that i/o is about feeling and being connected to everything and in a way, the next evolution of being connected to things is a feeling of love for everything.’
Though not directly related to the song, there is this peripheral connection and inspiration that comes from Gabriel’s interest in the parallels between how people, over many centuries, have used psychedelic drugs for mystical experiences and the current clinical research of many Universities into their healing powers – ‘it sounds trite just to say ‘love can heal’, but I really believe that it is a key element and that when people feel interaction, warmth, giving, part of something alive and not isolated, that they’re much more likely to do well and be able to offer more themselves. The music began with this meditative, repeated sequence and the essence of all these sounds was trying to create a sensual palette. With the work that Hans-Martin Buff’s been doing on the immersive mix too, you’re getting this sense of being touched in many places and it should be a place just to drift off into. That was my aim.’
Love Can Heal was primarily recorded at Real World Studios, Bath and The Beehive, London but it also features live elements from Linnea Olsson (cello and vocal) and Jennie Abrahamson (vocal), ‘wonderful musicians’, recorded in Toronto during the Rock, Paper, Scissors tour. Their two voices are joined by those of Melanie Gabriel and also Ríoghnach Connolly on lead vocals creating ‘a warm, soft vocal blanket that surrounds you.’
This month’s full moon release comes with artwork from the artist Antony Micallef and his work ‘a small painting of what I think love looks like’.
‘Antony Micallef is a stunning painter. I’d seen some of his portraits and they are with thick layers of paint, so there were references to Auerbach and Bacon for me, just very physical, very powerful and I just fell in love. Those paintings, in some ways, are more brutal, but this one is so tender and I think Antony manages to capture a lot of that intimate tenderness around love that is very hard to put into pictures. I was delighted when he was happy to be part of this.’
Antony Micallef adds:
‘I was listening to a few of the songs and it’s interesting because it’s like putting on clothes and going ‘oh, this suits me’ or ‘that doesn’t suit me.’ With Love Can Heal I could see my images coming up when I was hearing it so you begin to home-in and that’s how it starts. I love artists who take risks and Peter’s always chopped and changed and I like to do that too with my work and you know it doesn’t just rest on this one thing.’
Micallef also collaborated with Aardman on the video that accompanies the song, ‘working with Aardman was amazing,’ he says ‘I love processes, especially in other mediums and so I found the mechanics of how this stuff comes together really interesting.’
‘Obviously I worked quite a lot with Aardman in the past,’ says Gabriel, ‘and Antony loved their work, so we talked to them, not sure if this was something that they might want to do or not, and they did a beautiful job. Very simple, but very strong and I’m very pleased with it.’
Just like the previous full moon releases, Love Can Heal comes with differing mix approaches from Mark ‘Spike’ Stent (Bright-Side Mix), released on 31 August, and also from Tchad Blake (Dark-Side Mix) and Hans-Martin Buff’s Atmos mix (In-Side Mix), released later in the month.