I rarely put anything on the website or social media that's even vaguely personal, and on the occasions that I have, it hasn't necessarily been anything beyond some strands of reality held together by muted whimsical invention. However, I'll attempt it here. Just for a change.
The 3rd December 2019 for me marked 50 years trying, not entirely successfully, to blend in. It hasn't all gone entirely well, but on the plus side, I've learned a few instruments, written some songs, laughed quite a lot and invented the shoe (patent pending).
For various reasons, the last ten of those years have possibly been not only the most difficult, but also the best. To be clear, lots of people's lives have been many times harder than mine, so complaints are far from my mind. I've hung on to most of the best people I know, found some new ones, rebuilt some bridges, learned rather more than I realised I needed to learn, and watched my baby daughter grow into a bright, kind, beautiful, and funny girl who puts up with me with great fortitude. I won't bore you with the other stuff.
While all that was going on, a lot of songs got written. Previously, in what seems now like a whole other life, I released two albums (2001 & 2006) with a band called Geist. One was successful in its way. A relatively primitive home recording, selling a couple of thousand copies before social media was a thing and was as far as I know the first album in the first 'Unsigned' section on a major retailer's website. The second one was hard work and somehow never right, although it has redeeming qualities that I appreciate more now than I did then. We'd missed the boat with it though, and other things were taking over.
Since 2009, three albums have been written and to a large degree recorded. One of the others is a rather more dramatic affair, featuring the splendid Anna Jenkins on violin. I'll finish it before too long, but in the last few months I realised that I'd inadvertently ended up with the album I was after whilst not really thinking about it, and it was simpler and more straightforward than I'd been intending. Eleven songs which are most about the time during which they were recorded and make some sense, for me at least, of all of the above.
For reasons that will hopefully become clear, It's called 'The River and The Burial Ground'. I've been helped enormously by original Geist members Stuart Francis, Mike Turk, Dave Coston and Neill Tupman, along with new guitarist James McClusky, and some vocal polish and orchestration input from singer-songwriter Léanie Kaleido. Also, there was lyrical input on three tracks from the occasional lyricist, Dominic Hudson, help with the cover design from the aforementioned daughter, Lily McDevitt, mastering from Nick Watson at Fluid Mastering, CD manufacture from Sound Performance and last but certainly not least, Clare Corrigan at Admin Gofer pulled the whole package together and made it all work. To all these people I'm very grateful, as without any one of them it would have been a lesser thing. It's not the most upbeat album of all time, although it has its moments. It's what I wanted it to be, and in the end that's really the only measure one can put on it. Whether other people listen, and what they make of it if they do, is out of my hands. If you do, I hope it connects somewhere along the line, because that's really all it's for.
A final note: I have a small circle of close friends, and they're more important to me than I ever get around to telling them, naturally. In 2014, one of them, Cam, who I'd known since we were in our teens, died suddenly. He was only 43. This album started properly the day after he died, when some listless noodling at the piano became 'Downmarket'. A few days later, 'Broken Blues' was written for him, and I used his old amp and delay pedal to record it. I hope he'd have approved.