New Year, New Album

Happy new year to all of you. I hope you had a great time over Christmas and the new year period.

I don’t normally make new year’s resolutions, but this year I have – I’m going to record an album.

My daughter is already sceptical. She reminds me that last year I said I was going to write a book. “How’s that going Daddy?” she says knowingly… And it’s true, I was going to write a book, and I still will one day.

Vic's Buskers - Rowbarge, Guildford - March 2015

But, as I’ve written elsewhere, music has become very important to me again recently. I’ve been performing a lot more recently, and I’ve started writing songs again. During the autumn I completed a new song (called ‘High Time’) from start to finish – and it’s many years since I last did that.

I’ve also got some songs left over from the ‘Life Line’ album which I recorded in 2008/9.

A change of style…

Acoustic guitar on the left, electric guitar on the right
More of the one on the left, less of the one on the right.

‘Life Line’ presented most of its songs in a band setting – even though it was just me recording it. Throughout my musical years I’d always been band orientated and it just seemed natural to me to arrange the songs with guitar, bass, some keyboard and drums or other percussion.

But now I feel firmly that I’m a solo performer. I’ve reworked some older songs to work with just my voice and a guitar, and they seem to work well. And my newer songs from the last couple of years have been born with that kind of mindset.

So the new album will be much sparser – mainly acoustic, and my electric guitars will mainly stay hanging on the wall.

That’s not to say there won’t be other instruments involved. Ironically, despite what I just said, my newest song ‘High Time’ really does suit being played in a band setting.

A change of method too

The Life Line album from 2009
The Life Line album from 2009

‘Life Line’ was recorded completely at home on my PC using some software called Tracktion. As well as capturing the songs, I used the recording process as an opportunity to learn about EQ, compression and mixing. These things are very important as I found out, but not always easy to get right.

Consequently, the album took at least 18 months to complete – the last few months spent mainly on getting the sound right, and ensuring that all the songs sat nicely together. I was really glad when it was all over.

So this album will be done differently. I will record it at a proper recording studio – don’t know where yet, but somewhere local.

It’s nearly 20 years since I was last in a recording studio – doing some demos with Albedo (which are all on Soundcloud).

I know being in a studio brings pressures of its own, but if I choose the right place then someone more experienced can worry about the technical aspects, and I can just focus on the music. Well that’s the theory anyway.

What’s the album called?

No idea yet.

So when’s it going to be out?

A good question.

I’ve got to work out which songs are going to be on the album. Some of them are still just sketches with titles like ‘D A D A D A G’ and ‘Spanish Song’, so they need to be finished as I feel nervous about going into the studio without some structure.

But I’m setting myself a target of finishing the recording by next Christmas. Then the album will be released early in 2017. I think that’s achievable.

I’m planning for the album to be available on CD and via download too.

I know vinyl is making a comeback, and some people swear by it’s quality and warmth. But I know from past experience that creating a finished vinyl album creates a lot more headaches, and short runs can be very expensive. Maybe if the album takes off big time I’ll do a vinyl version.

From time to time I will be posting about progress.

Tracy and I Start Rehearsing Together

Tracy performing solo at The Phoenix, Woking in June 2015
Tracy performing solo at The Phoenix, Woking in June 2015

I first met Tracy Ginn at the Phoenix Cultural Centre earlier in the year. She’s a singer and was performing solo to backing tracks.

On one visit to the Phoenix, she asked me to accompany her on guitar, and gave me a few song sheets with chords on. I agreed and we performed ‘Smooth Operator’ ( the Sade song). She also gave me the chords for Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ – a song I’d obviously heard before but never attempted to play. We performed this together the next time I was at the Phoenix.

I think Tracy would agree that she was a little lacking in confidence when performing to start with, but I recognised that she had quite a good voice.

So after the summer we started practising together on an occasional basis – with the idea that I would back her at the Phoenix, and other open mic nights.

So far our bunch of songs is small:

  • Smooth Operator
  • Someone Like You
  • Valerie
  • Price Tag

We’ll hopefully be growing our set list over time.

Playing at Woking Party in the Park 2015

Through my involvement with the Phoenix Cultural Centre in Woking, I was given the opportunity to do some busking in Woking Park during the annual Party in the Park event.

Along with other musicians I played at two different locations within the park, the best being on the way towards the leisure centre, by the duck pond.

Woking crowds aren’t as used to live music as they would be in Guildford, but it was great to see a positive reaction fro people walking past.

Here are a couple of videos from the day.

Release at Vic’s Buskers Guildford – June 2015

On June 2nd 2015 I played some songs at Vic’s Buskers Open Mic night at the Rowbarge in Guildford.

These nights are organised by Vic Cracknell – a guitarist, pianist and songwriter from Surrey. He organises a number of open mic nights at pubs in the Surrey/Hampshire borders area. The Rowbarge in Guildford is a regular event of his and takes place on the first Tuesday of every month.

I videoed one of my songs – this one is Release.