Recording Don’t Let Go

Don’t Let Go was written by myself and Francis Greene during the summer of 2018, and it’s the last song to be recorded for my upcoming ‘Found My Way‘ album.

A song is born

The initial idea for Don’t Let Go came from a rough keyboard demo that I recorded at home some years ago. It made me think of a retro 60s R&B track, but I struggled to think of a suitable melody to accompany it, and my keyboard skills weren’t up to recording it or playing it live.

So I asked my friend Francis Greene if he’d like to collaborate on the song. Francis (as some of you may know) is a well-known Surrey-based songwriter, guitarist and keyboard player. He agreed to have a look at it, so I passed him the demo and a few lyrics that I’d pulled together.

After a while he came back with a full-length demo. Francis had added a great catchy melody, a new verse section, and a great chorus. At last the song had come to life.

Francis Greens and Graham Armfield performing Don't Let Go at the Rowbarge, Guildford. . Photo by Claire Lonsdale.
Francis Greens and Graham Armfield performing Don’t Let Go at the Rowbarge, Guildford. Photo by Claire Lonsdale.

After I changed the key of the song to make it easier for me to sing, Francis and I performed the song for the first time at Vic’s Open Mic night at the Rowbarge, Guildford in September 2018.

It was at this stage that I decided to include it in the ‘Found My Way‘ album I’d been recording through 2018.

The recording

I didn’t get around to starting the studio recording of ‘Don’t Let Go’ until November. I’d created some rough guide tracks at home and took them in to begin working on the song.

I re-recorded the bass, and acoustic guitars, and set up a great drum track. I then recorded the lead vocals over the demo guitars and keyboards.

In December I invited Francis into Miacon Studio to do the definitive keyboard parts and to record some backing vocals in the choruses.

Neal from Miacon studio prepares to record Francis' keyboard parts for Don't Let Go.
Neal from Miacon Studio prepares to record Francis’ keyboard parts.

And then finally in January 2019 I recorded some new electric guitar parts.

Recording electric guitar parts for Don't Let Go.
Recording electric guitar parts.

The video

Whilst doing the recording with Francis I recorded some video clips on my phone. Neal also recorded some shots when I was re-recording the guitar.

So here’s a short video showing some of the process. Hope you like it.

The future

As I write this, Don’t Let Go is ready for its final mix – the first of the new album songs to get that far. So ironically, the song that was the last to be started will end up being the first one actually finished.

I’m hoping that the rest of the songs will be finished soon, and the ‘Found My Way‘ album will be released in the early Spring 2019.

I’ll be posting more details soon.

Work Has Started On The New Album

Early last month I posted that I was going to be recording an album this year. Well work has started on the process.

I’ve been collecting together a list of songs for consideration. I’m looking at there being 10 songs on the finished album, but I’ll probably work on more as sometimes songs just don’t work as expected when it comes to recording.

Potential list of songs

List of album songs on my Trello board
List of album songs on my Trello board

The current rough list is shown here. Some songs will be solo voice/guitar and some will be recorded as a band.

  • It’s Only Love (solo)
  • High Time (band)
  • Time, Time, Time (band)
  • Commit Yourself (solo)
  • If You Could Only See (solo)
  • Your Eyes Are My Sun (solo-ish)
  • Take Your Chance (band)
  • Sail Away (band)
  • How Did You Know? (solo)
  • Lonely Me (solo)
  • D A D A D A G (band)
  • Abmaj7 C (solo)
  • A New Kind of Love (solo)
  • If You Were Still Here (solo)

But things are likely to change over time.

The next step is to start creating some demos of the songs to work out arrangements and backing vocal harmonies etc. And some of the songs in the list still need to be finished – those ones are likely to get recorded later on in the year.


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.