New Album - Royal JellyPosted on April 13, 2011
I think it was back in October when I was speaking with two beekeepers about royal jelly. It's literally a fluid secreted by worker bees and fed to all of the larvae of the colony. When the worker bees are ready for a new queen they select several larvae to receive higher amounts of the substance contributing to their transformation into queens. I found it to be an amazing and mysterious process. Like magic.
At the time I was just getting into the recording process for the album. We were cutting demos and figuring out which songs we wanted to record. The songs we had to work with were all written over the past year. In that year I worked hard to deepen the writing process. I learned new things musically and about myself through it. It required looking back at all kinds of people and experiences and interpreting them in a way that helped make sense of why things are the way they are. Royal jelly seemed to fit as a metaphor for the collection of songs. It's the experiences or people that are given to us all. It's what shapes us into what we ultimately are or become.
Much of the music strives for deeper understanding. Not just through the songwriting but with the performances and recording process as well. This was the second consecutive album I worked with Tim Mooney of Closer Recording. We literally had only met once prior to creating the last album. This time around we knew each other better and had a foundation to work from together. There was more confidence and trust throughout and I think the music reflects that. I wanted Tim to challenge me on the songs that we chose to record. To find what they meant to him and to suggest ways to make them stronger. He did and as a result we found new ways to approach the music. It was a collaborative process that expanded our comfort zone.
The soul of the music is worn and hopeful covering a range of themes. Acceptance and vulnerability. Warmth and desolation. Love and loneliness. The arrangements are spacious but full. I think two albums that really influenced the sound and approach for the recording process were Ryan Adams’ Heartbreaker for its live feel and intimacy and Neil Young's Harvest Moon for its sincerity. We wanted the songs to be varied in approach and execution while fitting together as a cohesive collection.
Much of what you hear on Royal Jelly is live. So the basic acoustic guitar, vocal, drum and bass tracks were mostly recorded together at once to analog tape. I added piano/key parts to about half the songs which I think adds a new color to the music. Mike Carnahan (who played bass) added some electric guitar parts to a few of the songs as well. It was my first time working with Mike, but he brought some great ideas into the sessions and was terrific to work with. Tim Mooney was the engineer and drummer for the sessions. He is a soulful individual. Tim brought so much depth and creativity to the process and it was a pleasure working with him again.
Overall I'm excited for you to hear the songs. Writing and recording music can be intense and exhausting but also a lot of fun! Every album is a different experience. It's important to approach things in new ways and learn from everyone. It keeps one challenged and engaged. One of the best feelings for me is getting to share new music with people. I can't wait for you to hear it!
Album Art by Rebecca Cross