SECOND HALF OF 2023
I've had my head down recently pulling new songs together for an album I hope to release around March 2024. Also, I've been testing out a few new recording techniques so see what I can improve on - all of which takes up rather large chunk of time. I hope it'll all be worth it once we get to the final stages of the new album.
Which brings me back to where I started on Social Media - Album or Multiple Singles…. I'll put it out front that I'm very much an album person. I like the challenge of putting together a group of songs into an ‘experience’, finding similarities but also differences which enhance the whole listening experience. For instance, the complex multi-tracked song followed by a simple guitar plus vocal song arrangement. However, some album tracks can often get lost if the whole thing is released in one go. Plus, platforms will often only use your one album cover for all tracks so songs can lose their individuality and audience attention.
I'm not sure there's an ideal, but I have seen quite a few cases of ‘albums’ now only having 6 three-minute tracks so ending up around the 20 minute mark. That would have been unheard of in the heyday of vinyl and even cds, unless you were called The Beach Boys! Any six-track album in my youth would still usually have been 40 minutes of music, usually with extended instrumentals.
So I keep working towards smaller albums - my last one, Circles and Seasons' was 8 tracks and I released it as 8 singles on Spotify and a full album on download sites. The track below, ‘Summer Days’ did very well on Spotify, but I suspect it might not have done quite so well as an album song. I tried to link all the singles together with a theme as you'll see in the pictures. However, my musical instincts keep pulling me towards 10-12 track albums as opposed to putting out two shorter albums. Let's see what happens with my forthcoming album release!
First half of 2023
My collection of World Songwriting Awards top ten placement certificates grows with my first single of 2023, Share and Share Alike (see below!). I headed up to a recording studio near Durham (UK) to complete this in March and work with my good friend Franky Gibbon. He asked a couple of friends, Brian and Irene Hume, to supply vocals, and another friend Jimmy Smith to add some guitar. Brian and Irene formed the band Prelude, who charted with a version of After the Goldrush in both the UK and USA, so it was a real privilege to have them on board.
Collaborations of all descriptions can be highly beneficial, if not essential, in the music business, and my second single release (this week - June 9th) is one between music and art. Although I did everything myself on the musical side of Love in the City, longstanding colleague Jacqueline Jax offered the artwork for the cover, which perfectly captures the sentiments of the song. Thanks Jacqueline for helping create the total package of Love in the City!
I'm preparing for a live concert in September where I'll be playing all original material on either piano or 12 String. To help, I've been heading off to various Open Mic venues near where I like and trying out many of my songs to a live audience. It's really helpful as you get a very quick idea of what works live and what doesn't. In the studio with overdubbing etc, I can get to where I want to with most of my songs. But when it's just you and one instrument, it can be a different story! Anyway, more on that later in the year as preparations continue.
Cheers and many thanks, as ever, for your support.
A very Happy New Year to you all.
This year starts with a new Top 10 award for a song 'You Knew it Anyway' which I wrote with a friend many years back. I wanted to record it again and did so recently, using a range of BBC orchestral sounds to build the mood. You can have a Spotify listen here Thank you World Songwriting Awards for a much-appreciated placement.
I'm really looking forward to this year, but also like to keep some memorabilia to remind me of my musical past. So, for a bit of New Year fun, I thought I'd share a photo of part of my music room where I write a lot of my songs - I like blank sheets of paper for that, but not blank walls!
1. Sunderland Football Club mini guitar - many a Saturday afternoon spent at Roker Park when I lived in the area
2. Executive decision-making spinner for inspiration
3. Led Zeppelin poster from the New Musical Express 1969 (I was a young teenager at the Newcastle gig when they were a new band on the scene - 67.5 pence entrance I recall)
4. A new song idea on the laptop
5. My recent cds - Onward Journeys and Circles & Seasons
6. Some new lyrics scribbled out about the Wolf Moon a few days back
7. Table adverts made by the bar staff for an old solo gig in a local pub
8. For some reason, my graduation photo (Microbiology & Virol0gy, Warwick Uni)
9. Cover for Christmas on Our Street - my 2021 seasonal single. Thanks to Ali Davis for the cover painting
10. Recent WSA placement certificate (see above)
11. Earlier WSA placement certificates since 2020
12. Painting for cover of 'Industrial Gypsies' single, again by Ali
13. Arial photo of our family home in Houghton-le-Spring in the NE of England, where I didn't practice classical piano very much, but did practice blues and rock, as well as teaching myself guitar
14. Drawing of St Michael's church in Houghton-le-Spring where I was a choirboy for many years and my Grandad was organist and choirmaster - learnt a lot about harmony there
15. Advert for a pub Irish evening I played with a friend, Andrew, a few years back
16. One of my Mum's last etchings before she passed away. She was a piano teacher and award winning violinist
17. 'Grandad, You Rock' plaque given to me by grandson Henry (now I'm a Grandad!)
18. Renovated picture of 6 famous classical composers (l to r Bach, Beethoven, Handel, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Mozart) which used to glare down on me in my Grandad's music room when he tried to teach me classical piano. Interestingly, behind it is a 1908 Northern Echo newspaper, which is now visible as I've had the whole thing re-framed with a perspex back. I assume my Grandad mounted it in the original frame - he would have been 23 years old in 1908
19. One of my favourite French posters for a 1906 Balloon Race over the Pyrenees, picked up in a junk shop
20. My one and only sporting award - University 5-a-side Football champions
21. Cuban maracas bought on honeymoon in Havana - bumped into Will Young in our hotel!
22. Old Houghton Grammar School exercise books converted into lyric books and used quite a bit in early bands. I learnt a lot musically at school as well, being in choirs and bands
Anyway, that's it - the reason quite a bit of this stuff is on show is because we moved house last year and I sort of re-discovered it. I hope you've enjoyed the tour of my music room walls and see you later in 2023!