One year ago today, I began recording what would become my second album. I remember feeling terrified, awkward and stranded - equipped with only my guitar and a clutch of songs, wondering how I could turn this all around and into something I could be proud of.
A year later, "Let Out The Dark" is complete. And I love it. I think it represents me well and I dare to say I'm proud.
Now, it's a matter of keeping on pushing towards my crowdfunding target - necessary to be able to press up more than one copy! - then embarking on the countdown to release - more than likely, this will be January 2017. This will give me time to promote it properly, giving it the best possible chance of being heard.
It's a risk, and very scary to put yourself out there. I can only wait and see how it's received. But, to all of you have so kindly and generously supported me so far through Pledgemusic, thank you with all my heart and I hope you will be glad to hear the record when you get your downloads next month, and your advance copies once they are pressed up. And maybe you can tell people about it too...
Til next time,
Love, A x
I'm just taking a few moments to catch up with myself and realised that I haven't blogged for a wee while... So, time for a wee update!
Work on the album has stuttered a wee bit unfortunately since the turn of the year. All the recording has been done, but mix and master are still to be finished. I think there is maybe only a day or two of work left on the mix before it can be zipped off for mastering, but poor Stuart hasn't been well and has had to take a break for a bit. But, we should be back to work in a couple of weeks time and ready to make a break for the finish line... Watch this space!
I'm a bit like a kid at Christmas with these new songs... It's going to take a bit of time to do it right, this releasing an album business, but I'm just busting to share them with you! So, the other night I got the slap on, perched my MacBook on a makeshift tripod (i.e. a kitchen chair balanced on my bed!) and recorded a wee version of new song The Fall. It kinda looks like I'm in a concrete garage or something, and the lighting ain't great, but you get the idea!
In other news, I'm delighted to be travelling to Ardlui on Sunday to play for the participants in the Travis Trek - find out all about Travis Trek and Milo's Miles here. If you have a spare couple of quid, please donate to this wonderful cause. Scott Cunningham MBE and his handsome devil of a guide dog, Milo, have done some amazing work for charity and would welcome your support.
There will be more news on the album development and live shows for later in the year soon. I'll be sure to share what's happening as soon as I can.
Ta ta for now! I'll leave you with this, my favourite April Fool so far...
I hope you don't get pranked too badly - speak again soon.
Love, A x
Well, here it is. Project Jeannie, starring many of the special ladies (and some gents!) in our lives. I hope you enjoy - please share your thoughts in the comments if you do.
Massive love and thanks to everyone who contributed - you've really made this special!
Project Jeannie - Coming Soon!
The deadline has now passed for photos and video submissions for Project Jeannie - thank you SO much to all of you who have contributed, it has been wonderful looking through all the photos and clips and I can't wait to share the finished product with you! Editing is now underway and the video will be uploaded before Christmas - watch this space for the confirmed date!
Project Jeannie is a celebration of those special ladies - the grans, mums, aunties, sisters... - I am creating a special video for "Jeannie's Song", made up of contributions from all of you... and raising some money for Age Scotland along the way. £2 from every album sold in December will be donated to the charity.
If you'd like to pick up your copy of Never Coming Home now, just click HERE and you will get it before Christmas!
New Single "Sparkle", 18th December
I am thrilled to be releasing the first single from my second album (as yet untitled!) this coming Friday! Not only is it my first new release in 4 years, it is also a Christmas song!! Exciting, right??!
I am very, very proud of this song - I hope you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed recording it. It is a download only single, so you won't even need to wait to get your ears around it! I will post the link to the song as soon as it comes out on Friday!
From all the shows I have played, and all the audiences I have sung for, one thing seems common to them all - the one song that resonates more than any other is Jeannie's Song. I wrote this song in 2007 as a gift for my Gran's 80th birthday and every time I sing it, I get the same goosebumps and lump in my throat as I did the very first time, when I sang it to her at her birthday party. She is a kind and inspirational woman and her influence over me rings out in every line.
Listen to Jeannie's Song...
I hear so regularly how this song resonates for people - we all have a mum, gran, auntie, sister or other woman in our lives who has shaped us, and you have been so kind to share with me your stories along the way. So, to honour these amazing women, I'd like to put together a video to accompany the song and I'd like you to help me!
The aim is to create a montage of photographs and short video clips sent in by friends and fans of the special women in their lives, the women who, like my own wee Gran, have made us who we are today. Jeannie herself will of course feature (although she doesn't know it yet! :) ), alongside your own Grans, Mums, Aunties, Sisters, Teachers, Mothers in Law... Whoever you want to be part of it!
The aim is to get the film put together and available online before Christmas, so you can even share this with your special lady as a special Christmas surprise. All contributors, and the great women featured in the video, will be credited in the video itself, so they will see their picture and their name on there.
To take part, please message me via the website Contact page in the first instance and I will let you know how to send me over your pictures and video clips.
Finally, but by no means least, to coincide with Project Jeannie, I will also donate £2 from the sale of every album during December to Age Concern in the names of everyone who has contributed to the project.
So, get involved!! I can't wait to see your contributions and to meet all those Jeannies out there!
How goes it? It's been a wee while since my last blog - apologies! The last thrilling installment of my recording diaries sadly got lost before I got a chance to hit "Post", presenting me with the options of a) chucking a tantrum and throwing my Macbook across the room; b) starting again, having forgotten most of what I'd written already; or c) taking a breath, walking away and getting my case packed for my holidays... So, I opted for the latter! Having had 10 lovely days in inland Spain, followed by a cheeky wee weekend in Blackpool (what can I say, I love the tack!), I'm feeling refreshed and ready to get back to work.
So! What's in store for November? First up, I have live show coming up which I am very excited about. I'll be sharing a bill with the lovely Kat Healy (Edinburgh) and Rebecca Loebe (USA) in Glasgow at The Griffin on Bath Street - an all female night of top notch acoustic music in the heart of the city. If I do say so myself! Tickets are available here, please do come if you are around as it's one not to be missed.
I'll be back in the studio from 16th November to finish off recording for the new album, still as yet unnamed (suggestions on a postcard?). In the meantime, it's all about the business side of things. I've got to organise photos and artwork, get replication and distribution lined up, as well as PR, plugging... the list goes on! Oh, the life of a one-woman operation, eh?
But, I will have some exciting news about new music coming up before the end of the month, so watch this space!
Look at the time! I'd better get my lunch eaten and back to the grind... Speak again soon :)
Enjoy your hump day! Love, A x
Where has this week gone?! It's been such a busy week, I'm only just getting around to bringing you up to date with what's been happening in the studio. Things are really starting to take shape - it's all very exciting.
Day 5 - Monday
Monday was my first vocals day. Before all of that was a trip to the garage. Did I tell you that my windscreen wipers on my car stopped working? Well, having rocked up at the garage at 8am, expecting them to get it fixed in an hour or so, they tell me that it's not going to be ready until the following day. WHAT? Stranded in Whifflet when I am meant to be in the studio is not ideal. Thank goodness for my father in law who spent his day off ferrying me around! I'd have been proper stuck otherwise...
So, after a bit of a minor panic, I made it to the studio just after 10am. After a bit of essential editing in the morning, it was time to lubricate the old vocal chords (yep, more blackcurrant and rhubarb tea) and get to work. With only the pacman lamp for company, I took up residence in a darkened live room and set to recording the vocals for five songs, including brand new songs "Where You Are" and "Sparkle". Where many of the songs featuring on Album Number Two have been in the works for the years since my last one was released, others are brand new, so it's really exciting to hear them taking shape - just playing back the rough mixes so far is a real thrill.
I was on a roll on Monday - it's been a while since my voice felt so good. Yeah, I was surprised too, given that I felt pretty horrendous at the end of last week, convinced I was getting a cold. Seems I have successfully staved it off, thank goodness. I think I've just passed it straight on to Murray, bless him. But, at least it didn't interfere with my voice in the end up, which was my real fear.
There are a number of factors which I feel contributed to a solid performance that day:
So, all in all, Monday was a very productive day and set us up for a flyer of a week... Next up - additional guitars and backing vocals...
Day 6 - Tuesday
Today, I welcomed one of my absolute favourite people to the studio to record a few backing vocals. After a long morning in the office, and then a trip back to the garage to pick up a courtesy car (STILL no replacement part for my broken wipers), my little brother Franco hopped off the train and into the studio.
Stuart had been putting down some additional guitars for "Home" in the morning, so we left him to work on that whilst we ran through our harmonies. Franco was drafted in to sing some harmonies on Don't Recognise Me. Those of you familiar with my work will recognise this song as a regular in my usual set - it's basically a love song to my childhood. Oh my, that sounds cheesy... Oh well. But with a reference to the "cheeky chocolate covered face of my baby brother", it only made sense to ask him to come and sing a little bit. And not only because of that - he also has a cracking singing voice. WIN! He was a proper professional, nailing the parts in less than 20 minutes - some great work, I can't wait to hear it in the mix.
Once that was finished, it was an early night for my and Franco to let Stuart get set up for Wednesday... yes, that means drums!
Day 7 - Wednesday
This is the day I have been looking forward to. There's something about adding drums to a track that just brings it to life, injects into it an energy that often you didn't even realise was there. That was today's focus - drums. And against the clock!
I was fortunate enough to be able to bring in the excellent Ross McFarlane (Texas, The Proclaimers, etc) to provide drums for the five tracks that need them, which was a bit of a coup I have to admit! Very excited I was, as I made a further trip to the garage (my car was finally ready... Just as well, since it had started chucking it down) and then hauled ass over to the studio to make a start. Stuart and Ross had just finished getting the kit set up and miked when I got there, so the first hour or so was spent blocking out the songs and talking Ross through the geography of the five tracks that we'd be working on. By the time we had done that, and then checked the levels on the mics, etc, it was pushing 4.30pm... We were getting kicked oot at 7pm, so time was against us. We'll never get five songs done in this time, I thought. Stuart assured me that if anyone could get the job done in that time, it was Ross. And he was right. Bloody hell, this guy is a machine! A real master at work, all he needed was a talk through the song structure, a couple of practice passes and then we'd get a take. And then move onto the next one. And you'd think that working so quickly would result in sub-standard results. Not so. I couldn't be happier with the parts, Ross has captured the feel of the songs perfectly. What a nice chap, and I am so delighted to have his work on the album. Happy girl!
So, tomorrow - bass and more vocals! It's all starting to come together! Until tomorrow, goodnight.
Love A x
Oh, I love being back in the studio! Having begun the week with more than a little trepidation, we've finished recording for the week and, honestly, it's been great. There were a couple of hurdles to get over, but especially over the last two days we really made some great progress - that's all my guitar parts down, and all the guide vocals are down for the tracks that are going to have drums added on Wednesday. We're off!
It's like a weight off my shoulders. Especially putting down those guide vocals! Getting to let loose a bit and just sing my wee heart out was so much fun. Even more so since there's no window in the live room... Seriously, there better not be a hidden CCTV camera in there! We'll be moving onto proper final lead vocals for the acoustic tracks on Monday, so I'll get practicing my moves in the meantime, just in case.
Today there was editing to be done, so I left Stuart to it and spent the day in the office trying to look like I hadn't fallen behind. I am lucky enough not to hate my day job - my team are lovely, the rest of the people are generally pretty cool too, and I look after communications and other quite interesting, fun stuff, so my days go in quickly. It's creative and sometimes challenging, so do I consider myself lucky not to have "the dread" every morning. But nothing compares to making music, and it still wrenches to think "yesterday I was singing round about now..." and today I'm in meetings. And not with publishers or record labels. Ah well.
In other news, it appears that I spoke too soon. I thought it was that procession of back to back meetings today that resulted in me feeling a bit raspy by the time I was heading for the train home. But as the night has gone on, I've developed a snotty beak, a cough and my throat is really rough... And so it begins - The Cold. Getting a full blown cold is just not an option, so it's out with the flu plus tablets and extra vitamin C, washed down with endless cups of blackcurrant tea (I've bought my own after I cleaned out the stock in the studio - did you know you could get blackcurrant and rhubarb? It's really good. Especially with loads of honey in it. Mmmmm.... But, I digress...) And Murray might get peace over the weekend as I try and just keep my trap shut as much as I can before Monday. Apart from the gig I am playing tomorrow night, the voice has to be rested as much as possible. Wish me luck getting this shifted before Monday, eh?
So, one week down, one to go. Let's see what next week brings as things start to take shape - I'll be back on Monday... Have a great weekend, and thanks for reading!
Love A x
This morning's litany of pains in the ass yet again brought the end game of this recording lark into focus... In fairness, it was mainly the godawful commute into Glasgow city centre at 7.30am that did it. Apparently all approaches to the city had been temporarily converted to car parks, seemingly in conspiracy against me getting into work on time. For me to get to the studio for midday, I needed first to get to work nice and early so as not to draw attention to me doing a bunk at 11.30am... No such luck. Oh, how wonderful it would be to no longer be on this hamster wheel and singing full time... one day!
By the time I made it to the studio, Stuart had already made a start, getting things in order for the day. And we had a really productive one - another 5 guitar tracks done, and with only two left to record, we're just about ready to move onto the first vocal tracks tomorrow. I can't wait - as much as I enjoy playing my Taylor, it's the singing bit I really look forward to, especially as the tracks start to take shape. It's great to feel that we are making progress now, even with regular blackcurrant tea and You Tube breaks - I've got to let my wee sore wrist recover from all this guitar playing, after all!
So it's vocalzones and a cup of lemon and ginger tea for Spina... I don't want to tempt fate, but it seems that I have managed to make it to my first vocals day without contracting some horrible illness. It has become almost an inevitability that, if I have something important coming up, I will come down with a cold at the very least. Cases in point:
Every time, the shows went on and I did the gigs to the best of my ability. But it really does feel sometimes like my body is trying to sabotage me... Luckily, though, the preparation for the album recording appears to have escaped the attentions of the germ-demons so far... Here's hoping it stays that way and I don't wake up tomorrow with Man Flu.
And on that note, time to get some sleep! Night night, I'll be back tomorrow to round up the week so far. Bye for now!
Love, A x