Why Four Albums?
My intention in recounting events leading up to the creation of these albums is not to create any mystique or to tug at heart strings; it's just to tell you the way it is. A few years back, I won a mammoth battle against alcoholism that near finished me.
As the recovery process went on and the fear of losing creativity, post-alcohol, subsided, I began feeling a volcano of obsessive activity churning away inside of me. I managed to get one album out of my system in the meantime but it barely scathed the surface of the things brewing in my mind.
The period of time just preceding quitting and the period of intense withdrawal that followed produced a lot of songwriting activity. As hallucinations and delirium tremens gave way to a new focus, my attention was drawn to the past and to those folk songs, so full of heart and soul, written by troubled minds from various social and national backgrounds in history.
Although four albums seems to be on the excessive side, in all honesty, it barely compensates for the time I feel I lost before finally getting some semblance of normality back into my life. In the future I hope to be able to record an anthology of all of the songs I wrote during the time that lead to that turning point a few years ago but ,for now, I'd be happy to share with you those songs that have come since.
For the most part, these albums are more or less done. They have, for better or worse, been for the most part self-recorded, self-mixed and I have done what is within my ability to do with some of the album cover designs. I have already covered the majority of equipment and mastering fees with my 'regular' job but with a little bit of help from you, I hope to raise funds for the remaining mastering fees, the pressing, some minor song licensing fees and, if by any stroke of luck I manage to exceed my target amount, I'd love to invest in a little bit of new recording gear. Over the next few paragraphs, I will break down the individual albums for you to give you an idea of what each one is about :)
The Great Folk Heist
(Twenty folk songs that inspired Bob Dylan)
This is the album that may have caught your attention in my title. I have been a great admirer of the music of Bob Dylan for most of my life and I was always fascinated with the idea of drawing a line through British, American and Irish folk music history leading up to the invention of Dylan. It is well known that many of his early songs were directly influenced by old folk songs.
I didn't want to record a tribute album or a Dylan retrospective: I wanted to trace his influences as far back as I could go and treat them as if they were my own songs; to give them a new voice, feel the context within which they were written and arrange them in a way that best suits my own feeling and understanding of the song.
If you are familiar with the works of Dylan, you may recognize the odd melody or lyric here and there and know exactly which songs these old folk songs came to influence. I enjoyed the accompaniment of some very accomplished global musicians during the production of this album and I truly hope it will bring pleasure to Dylan fans and folk music fans alike, and perhaps even draw some interest to the genre from those who like other things entirely :)
(Fifteen original songs straddling the border of pre and post alcoholism)
This is the album of original songs that most correlates to my experience of alcohol withdrawal and recovery. It may not be the most polished thing you've ever heard in terms of clean production but it very much reflects the nature of my mind at the time of both writing and recording.
What this album does contain however is brutal, emotional honesty and a reflectiveness that's extends far beyond the nature of my direct experience. I must admit that it wasn't a particularly pleasurable album to record and mix due to the intensity of the situation which surrounded it but I do believe that this has added to the jagged directness with which I hope these songs will penetrate the listener's mind. I hope that the album as a whole will provide an emotional outlet and platform for anyone that is going through or has gone through any kind of addiction, internal turbulence or psychological insecurity.
These are not songs about hopelessness, though they appear dark on the surface; they are about coming to terms with change and emotionally processing the dark twisting paths that lead us into uncompromising situations where we are forced to question our purpose and our ultimate reality. I really do hope that theses songs, for all their roughness, will provide release to the listeners as they have provided me with release as the writer :)
Fifteen Furlongs From the Farm to the Frontier
(Thirteen Anglo-American farm and frontier ballads with self-penned melodies and arrangements)
A little while back, I got my hands on a couple of obsolete books containing Anglo-American farm and frontier ballads from previous centuries. The vivid honesty of these poems blew my mind and had me obsessing over them for a brief but intense period.
Life in these lyrics is blown open in all its graphic glory and I found absolutely none of the pretentiousness you might associate with more formal forms of poetry. There's the guy whose wife left him for 'a handsomer man', the wife whose sick and tired of pulling her drunken husband from the ditch, 'the old man under the hill' who sells his troublesome wife to the devil, the rover who wants to warn others about the pitfalls of marriage, the poor girl who is murdered by a jealous admirer, the man sent to the gallows for a crime he didn't commit and many more folk from the past with real and crazy stories to tell.
The stories have been painstakingly condensed from epic poems in some cases and a narrative identified and plucked to form a song. All of the music is totally self-written and I have taken care to arrange and deliver them in a way that I believe stays true to their original nature and sentiment. I hope you find these songs as relevant to the human condition now as I did when they first knocked me off my feet :)
Blighty and Beyond
(Nine songs of having a blast with whatever was lying around and on my mind)
There's not a great deal to say about this album I'm afraid apart from having a huge amount of enjoyment making it. Unlike the previous three albums, there are no guest musicians so all of the acoustic tracks were layered upon using weird old vintage synth sounds like the mellotron.
The songs are all original and were written during one summer period when I started thinking back to my home country although subject matter does extend beyond this of course.
I guess this whole thing was a relief from the mental stiffness of Delirium Tremens and I just wanted to convey whatever was on my mind in the freest and most unrestrictive way I could using whatever I had lying around and not take the process too seriously. I sincerely hope it brings you the same amount of pleasure it gave me and some :)
Risks and challenges
As the projects are all edging towards the end stages of completion, I cannot foresee any true obstacles in actually finishing them if the crowd funding target is met but I will keep everyone posted about developments as they happen. Giving an exact completion date may be tricky as I must consider the mastering engineers time schedule and the pressing plants turnover time etc. Watch this space for any developments. I promise you wholeheartedly I will be completely transparent :)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (33 days)