Monday, June 25, 2012

You Came Through

      I had no intentions of working on a new record. Richmond Fontaine had just finished recording "The High Country", and we were in the process of beginning rehearsals for the tour in support of "The High Country".
     But then over the course of a month or so I banged out half a a dozen new songs, and finished up some other songs that I had been working on for awhile. It soon became apparent to me that I really liked these songs and wanted to record them while they were still fresh and new. I had a busy schedule in the Fall (2011) touring with RF, but I was sure I could fit in some time to record these new songs. I also wanted to push myself to finish and hone the songs to completion. I always work best with a deadline looming over my head!
    So I booked some studio time with Mike Coykendall at Blue Room Studios in Portland. Mike had recorded and produced my first record Across The Road, and had worked with Fontaine on Post To Wire, The Fitzgerald, and Obliteration By Time. He has also worked with such musicians as Fernando, M. Ward, She and Him and The Old Joe Clarks.
    I contacted many of the same musicians who I had worked with on my first record: Sean Oldham (drums), Scott Hampton (guitar, dobro, slide guitar), and Michael Jodell (vocals). I also brought in Ralph Huntley (piano, organ, accordian), Dan Eccles (lap steel and acoustic guitar), Paul Brainard (pedal steel guitar), and Jill Coykendall (clarinet). As on Across The Road, Mr. Coykendall played a whole bunch of stuff as well.
    The recording went great. Mike and I worked together, and quickly got down to business. I wanted the sessions to be kind of loose, so several of the songs weren't completely worked out until we got in the studio. I wanted to try and keep everything as spontaneous as possible, limit the number of takes, and strive to capture the magic of several musicians creating something new in the studio.
    As on my first record, Sean Oldham was the heartbeat and muscle. I worked out the songs with Sean at his studio, finding the right tempos and feel for each song.
    Scott Hampton brought some great melodies to the songs with his playing. Scott is a songwriter, and he approaches each song with an eye on how his musical lines can best build the song into a whole creation. He has so many great ideas. I just love his playing. The melody guitar line he wrote for "Shelly's Song" just kills me. And his playing on "Judgment Day" is out of sight!
    Michael Jodell is great to work with. She has a sweet soul, and it really comes through in her singing. Michael sang harmonies and background vocals on many of the songs, and duets with me on two of the songs: "Goodbye" and "Own Kind Of Love".
   "Own Kind Of Love" was written about a month before the recording session. I was walking the streets of Florence, Italy when the tune and lyric came to me. It is rare for me to write without an instrument, so this was a nice treat. I finished the lyric off on the plane ride from Florence to Amsterdam. It was a real pleasure to sing it face to face with Michael in the studio only a month later. Paul Brainard's gentle pedal steel playing adds the right amount of ache to the song.
    "Scholls Ferry" is an instrumental, the first song I have written on the piano. On the demo I played the piano. But for the studio version I had the maestro Ralph Huntley play the part. Dan Eccles added the Beatlesque lap steel part.
    Dan also adds beautiful lap steel to "Grasshopper Blues". This song is an older song of mine. I used to perform it uptempo, but recently slowed it down to JJ Cale speed. I like it. Dan and I recorded it late one night in Mike's living room. I believe Take 2 was the keeper.
    "Shores of Cornwall" was written on guitar, but for the recording we based it on Ralph's piano playing. Ralph added some great gospel touches to the song. When it came time for me to sing the lead vocal, I was having a tough time singing it. I think the song was too emotional for me, and the playing was so great that I didn't feel like I had it in me to match the intesity of the performance. I jokingly mentioned to Mike that maybe he should sing it. (I think secretly I really did want him to sing it!). He was a little hesitant to sing as he had a cold and had just played a gig the night before, so his voice was pretty rough. Well, he came down and nailed it in two takes. And I love the feel of his voice on the song. It feels like he is living the song. Mike's wife Jill added some wonderful clarinet to the song as well.

     Well, now everything is recorded and done and ready for everyone to listen to. I worked with my old friend Mario on the artwork. He does great work.
     I am very happy with how the record came out. I think it has a great feel to it. I hope you will like it too!




                                                    Photo By Frederik Harding