Thursday, January 14, 2021

Songwriting in the Time of Covid-19

Like most of you, I am more than ready for this pandemic to be relegated to the history books. However, as someone who also recognizes the need to follow safety protocols for the good of civilization, I've pretty much been holed up for the past ten months, only leaving the house for necessities. 

Before the pandemic, I used to perform about once a month at a place down the road from me that hosted an open mic. Every once in a while, I would headline a weekend show. Now, of course, the idea of sharing a microphone with anyone is something akin to sharing a toothbrush. No thanks.
In fact, most of the songs on my previous four albums were written to be performed in solo acoustic sets. As such, they were almost all guitar-driven and relatively simple. While the album versions of many of these songs might be a little more complex, they are all still very recognizable in their simplest form when it's just me and my acoustic guitar on stage.  

The pandemic has influenced my approach to songwriting on my newest album, as the circumstances have permitted me to think more broadly in terms of the instrumentation that I employ in my compositions. Not every song had to be reduced to a chord progression on acoustic guitar and still make sense. In this regard, you could say that being stuck inside opened up some doors for me.

Black Ribbon Day and Parallel Lines started as banjo riffs. Original Miles and We Are All That We Need were both written on piano, and Quicksand is the first song that I've ever written on baritone guitar. I also have one song in dropped D, and another where the G string is also brought down to an F#. 

In contrast, on my 2019 album, Better Days, I gave myself strict parameters to work within: everything is in 4/4 time, it's all played on the same guitar (even the bass lines, thanks to an octave pedal) and there are no lead parts or miscellaneous instruments thown in. There were other self-imposed limitations, but you get the idea. 

On Embers (official version coming soon), I gave myself no such barriers. Consequently, the album as a whole is probably the most genre-defying work that I've done, as each track is really presented in its own style. I let the songs tell me what they wanted to be, and this album is ultimately the result. 

You can hear the unmastered tracks here. Once I finish mastering them, high-resolution versions of all the songs will be available via online distributors such as Spotify and Apple Music to purchase or stream.

Thanks for listening. 

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