In a little over 90 minutes, I will be in the studio beginning work on album number two. In an attempt to make sense of the process, I've decided to keep a blog during the recording. I'll aim to share with you the ups and downs (hopefully mainly ups!) as the next two weeks unfold and hopefully come out at the end with something you will be as excited to hear as I am to have you listen to!
This morning, I have cast my mind back to the day I started recording my first album, Never Coming Home... That was October 2007. Yes, 2007. The album eventually came out in June 2011 - a little under four years in the making, me and the band were in and out of the studio, a morning or an afternoon at a time, just slotting in whenever the more important clients of the studio didn't need to use it. I can't blame the studio for that, they were the ones with the money, and I was lucky to even be there... But it did lead to a lot of frustration and a finished product that, although I love it and am very proud of it, didn't reflect a moment in time like I feel an album should. Nor does it accurately reflect what my music sounds like in real life, up there on stage with a mic and a guitar - generally what audiences tend to respond best to.
So this time, I decided to do it differently - book out two weeks in a studio, and just go in and do it as close to live as I could. Sounds simple. The spanner in the works, however, is that I appear to have haemorrhaged all of my fellow musicians. As I've performed pretty much exclusively solo and acoustic since the album was launched in 2011, the guys and girls that I had shared the experience of the first album with, and all of the shows leading up to and around it, found themselves with other things to do. Well done to them for staying motivated and keeping the music going... There were times when I seriously considered quitting for good, so poor was my experience after releasing the album. I felt like I'd poured absolutely everything into this record and due to restricted funds, wasn't in a position to arm myself with decent PR and so it basically sank. I had such high hopes, and my best efforts and meagre budget weren't enough to keep it afloat. So, my head goes down, my motivation to write and perform take a nosedive, and I neglect my pals to the point where they go and find their music elsewhere... I can't blame them for that.
Following early conversations with Stuart, my producer for album number two (who I am sure you will hear more about over the next few days), has suggested a more developmental approach - don't worry about other musicians in the beginning. Come in, start putting the skeletons of the songs down and then build around them, only adding in what the songs really need. We talked about what people say when they hear me play live for the first time, and tried to understand how we could capture that on record - it's always escaped me until now - and we came to the conclusion that it's my voice that people comment on the most, so let's see if we can bring that out as best we can and not swamp it in production and unnecessary instrumentation. Everything should be around bringing out the vocal, and we can call up and bring in musicians as we need them. He made it sound do simple! But in the few weeks since that conversation, I can't help but feel a sense of reticence that I am going in today to start putting down ten new songs that I am really, really excited about completely on my own. I am sad that my friends aren't here to share this with, but I accept that's down to me. But I am also scared I guess that I'm going to stumble at the first hurdle, that we realise straight away that every single song is going to need a full band, for example, and then where will we be?
I guess I will soon find out!
These things are rarely plain sailing, so I suppose this nervousness is only natural. It really does feel like a jump into the unknown and, for someone who likes to be completely in control, it's uncomfortable for me. But, with Stuart's steady hands steering the ship, here's hoping I don't fall overboard before we've even got started!
So, I'd better go and get ready! I will be back tomorrow with the first day's report - wish me luck!!
Love A xxx