The NBTMusicRadio ”Essence Of The Song”

NBTMusicRadio once again presents the finest new independent creators of that strange difficult sweet thing we call the SONG. From the First thought birth, to the final note laid down in the studio, we asked a selection of artists about their craft.

Once again Featured Artists brought to you by the wonderful folks at Hemifran An independent A&R, promotion and marketing company, based in the heart of Sweden,The Artists they represent range from the USA’s finest Americana/Country/Rock outfits, to Europe’s most talented singer/songwriters, and EVERYTHING in between.

All these artists and the songs they talk about can be heard every day on the NBTMusicRadio: 9 AM AND 10 PM New York Time

3 PM and 4 AM Berlin Time 2 PM and 3 AM UK Time (Australia/New Zealand plus 6 or 9 Hours on Berlin Time)

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And now without any further Chatter here are the Artists.

My Darling Clementine

www.facebook.com/mydarlingclementine.music

NBTMusicRadio: On your website, you mention how Elvis Costello’s ‘Almost Blue’ Provided a gateway into understanding, and perhaps more importantly, starting to love country music. It had the same effect on me, I realised that there was more to this music than the syrup soaked clichés, AOR stereotypes that the normal indie kid would run miles to avoid. Do you hope that the music you make as My Darling Clementine will do the same thing for a new generation, or is 2012 a very different time, what with music mags and websites constantly championing Country and Alt/Country as the saviours of modern indie pop? ( I notice that, also on the website; you stress that this is not a ‘parody’ record, which would indicate that you feel Country is STILL not being taken seriously)

MDC: It would be nice if it did, and i would be delighted, but i think these days more younger fans are aware of more genres of music and younger kids often look back in time for inspiration. Maybe in our day it was about the ‚‘moment‘ what was happening ‚‘‘now‘‘ as it was all so exciting.

When I first started down this country road, the likes of Uncut and Mojo were not even aware of the alt country thing, Uncle Tupelo, The Jayhawks had just come out, and it was still a genre waiting for a title. These days those magazines champion Americana, and so you get someone like Ryan Adams with an audience of guys ranging from 20 year olds to guys in their 50s and 60s.

The Parody comment was really aimed at the UK, where Country Music maybe still has a bad rep amongst those who only just see the surface. Lou and I are deadly serious about these songs and how we went about trying to re-create the sound and feel of those great country duet albums from the late 60s/early 70s. That said we are having a bit of fun with the look and the imagery, enjoying wearing the polyester!

NBTMusicRadio: You describe ‘ How Do You Plead’ as a collection of songs about ‘love, separation, bitterness and acrimony.’ In country music, the duet, specially the male/female duet has always been the perfect setting to create these themes. Why do you think this is?

MDC:  I guess it appeals to the voyeur in us all, the part of us that turns the TV down when we  gear a row going on nextdoorm so that we can eavesdrop on what they are shouting about.

Also a man and a woman singing to eachother is a very powerful emotional thing, more so, I think, than just singing out to an audience. Ot is a musical conversation, and as we all know, conversations can be polite, loving or often even angry and bitter, or just down right rude! Lou and I are perfecting the latter all the time.

Victor Camozzi

http://www.myspace.com/victorcamozzi

NBTMusicRadio: The title track of your new album ”Roadside Paradise” seems almost to be a lament for a not very polished past, can you tell us how this song came to be written

Victor: It’s a lament. It’s also a love letter. You stumble around for enough years and you start to realize it’s your warts that make you what you are, not your so called “strengths.” Somewhere along the line I figured out that imperfection is far more interesting to me than perfection. That’s true in a lot of ways. Take the people I talk to in bars wherever I go (Christ, I’m a veritable addict of barstool conversation)—my philosophy is that the dude with perfect teeth and a perfect job and the right brand of shirt can go fuck himself. I’d much rather meet the three time divorcee staring down another busted romance and wondering where it all went wrong. There is something honestly human in that. Beautiful in it’s falability. As for the origins of the song “Roadside Paradise”, I can’t tell you where it all came from, but I can tell you where it began. There is an old 24 hour diner not so far from my house in Austin. Once upon a time, it used to be a truckstop. But the town has grown up around it. Still, in the wee hours, when I’m there far more often than I should be, it attracts that uniquely American cast of drifters and underground highway ramblers, the cast offs and coulda beens, and it was there sitting in one of those old vinyl booths…thinking about the countless joints just like it that have always felt like home to me….that the first words began to tumble out on my napkin (penned in left over crayon if I recall). There’s something about a joint that can serve you chicken fried steak, scrambled eggs and gravy at 4:15am that just moves me in ways both idiotic and divine.

 NBTMusicRadio: The album has a big bar room band sound with more than a touch of bravado and sadness mixed with a hint of devil may care humour, yet its just the two musicians driving the tracks,what prompted you to use just yourself and Matt Downs, and what differences arise when recording like this as opposed to a full band.

Victor: Matt and I go way back. Waaaaaaay back. Back before I ever even got the balls to perform my songs in front of anyone other than my cat Picasso (RIP). Matt and I were buddies. Buddies who shared a similar vibe and a similar taste in music. Aside from being a damn musical genius, he was just a close friend. So early on he was the guy I played my songs for when I was starting out. For my first album, that evolved into us laying down some basic tracks, which I then took to Bill Small and Walt Wilkins and produced into “3 Peso Cigar” with a full band. But for the second album–“Roadside Paradise”–Matt and I got to messing around with some early tracks, and at some point he just looked at me after a couple whiskeys and said “Y’know…I think I might like to see this one through.” And that was enough for me. Matt gets what I’m going for…sonically and cosmically. It doesn’t take a lot of words. A couple hand gestures, a belch and a fart, and he’s nodding his head, good to go. I could add more musicians…and for the next album we may bring in a couple folks here in there…but adding too many cooks just creates more people I have to explain to. I’m just lazy enough (and smart enough) to lean on the musical telepathy Matt and I share and not question the good thing that I’ve found.

I See Hawks In La

http://www.iseehawks.com/

NBTMusicRadio: Dear Flash was inspired by a novel, ‘Divine Right’s Trip’ by Gurney Norman, How did that come about ? and how hard is it to install the essence of a novel into a four minute song?

ISHILA( Paul Lacques): The Whole Earth Catalog was a big part of my life when I was 17 years old, back in the1970s. The hippie movement in the U.S. had fled for the countryside, lots of small farmsand communes starting up in every state, and I wanted to be a part of that. The Catalogwas a compendium of farming/survivalist knowledge, everything from home birthing to geodesic dome making to hunting and composting. We recently found a copy of the 1974 Last Whole EarthCatalog, and Rob and I got immersed in Gurney Norman’s serialized novel “Divine Right’s Trip,” which appeared every few pages throughout the catalog. Gurney’s a fine writer, captures some very dark contradictions deep in the hippie/gypsy lifestyle, and we are pleased to have contacted him and made his acquaintance. He likes our music, which is quite a thrill for us.

“Dear Flash” is an imagined letter 40 years later, from protagonist Divine Right (DR), a kindof everyman hippie, to the cooler and more together Anaheim Flash, whom we imagine as having some idyllic mountain farm. DR has lived all the conflicts of the 60s onward, and wants to rest and grow a garden.

NBTMusicRadio: the cover of the album is either sunset or sunrise, though the underlying mood on a lot of the songs is a end of day weariness, acceptance, lament, very similar in mood to Springsteen’s Nebraska, (emotionally of course if not musically), there are exceptions, but what was it in the writing and conception that made this album in particular such a ”sunset/sunrise” record?

ISHILA( Paul Lacques): You’re right on all counts! We got lucky with the lighting, did the photo at sunset underbrooding skies, and it poured rain on us as soon as we were done. A beautiful afternoon.

The mood of the album is definitely one of battered souls accepting life as it is, a bit stripped of our activist/political stance of past recordings. It’s just where we’re at today, writing what’s on our minds, like all of our albums. Our previous songs were very influenced, willingly or not, by the darkness of the Bush administration and our urge to fight,however hopeless that fight might be.

“New Kind Of Lonely” is certainly the sunset to that era, with the irony that the Obama administration is a carbon copy of Bush, with perhaps an added layer of deceit and false promises.

So in a way we’ve thrown up our hands, given up on the American people and the fate of America, and are trying to live our lives as peacefully (and low carbon) as we can.

The preaching era is over for us, at least for the moment. The songs are far more personal,are actually about our own lives in some intimate detail, and that’s a big change for us.It is a sunrise of sorts. I’m not sure what the new day is, but it feels different. We feel great personal hope, but our apocalyptic views of the future are unfortunately intact.

Tom Rodwell

http://www.tomrodwell.com/

NBTMusicRadio: The album is recorded with no effects, edits or overdubs, would you call yourself a musical ‘purist’ or would you be absolutely horrified by that description?

Tom: Well on one hand, no I’m not a purist, since I like to blend and change my source material and influences, and I consciously experiment and improvise with the structure of the songs I work with. It all melts together into my own language of sorts – so it’s more like a raw and personal “style” than a collection of tunes.

But that in itself is quite a purist idea really. I’m a fan of the blues players who were a law unto themselves – like Skip James, Albert Collins and Fred McDowell. Each had their own unique characters, even if their songs could at first glance be drawn from the same well as another musician’s. Which goes to show that really blues is communal music that no-one owns, where inflection and interpretation – art – matters more than ‘skill’ or braggadocio. Look at Lightnin‘ Hopkins or John Lee Hooker – on the surface quite similar players, but with utterly different temperaments and ways of seeing, and utterly different lives. I only hope to be purist in the sense of trying to continue developing my own musical language, and follow my nose and be honest with myself. That’s all you can hope for.

 NBTMusicRadio: On the website you speak about the Blues as a dance form, does this come naturally from the traditional lyrics’ rhythm or does it only become obvious once the guitar and percussion is attached, and how does this affect how you approach the creation of a song?

Tom: The music comes first mostly; I typically start a song from a brief, blunt musical accent, and then think of what to sing on top of it. But sometimes the lyrics do suggest a phrasing, and it’s fun to experiment with it all. What happens if you take a lyric that conventionally works in a shuffle atmosphere, but lay it over a reggae-dancehall rhythm instead?

Tempo is important too – and because my right foot taps out the rhythm to all my songs, it has to start from there. So the feet lead the head! I’m always trying to get people to move to this music – surely that is what it is for, this feeling of warmth leading you out of the darkness. Plus if women dance, then men dance, then people buy beer and then musicians get paid.

 HungryTown

http://hungrytown.net/

 NBTMusicRadio: A few of the songs on the album are triggered by events within the world at large, A volcano’s Eruption, Moving into an old house and so on, but then the themes are pointed inward, become an exposure of the ‘internal’ as it were (The Title track could be about the inactivity of depression for example) and this mix is rather wonderful, so my question (‘at last!’ I hear you sigh) how do you create these personal miniatures, is it a long process of introspection, or does this balance come without thought.

HungryTown: Every song requires a slightly different approach, and I often experiment to find the one that works best. Over the years, I’ve discovered that I like to tell stories from the first person perspective. My characters tend to be fictional, but I use my own experience and perceptions in a way that might make those characters and stories more believable

Our songs usually begin with an idea—a tale we’d like to tell, or an event that we want to relate. Ken often comes up with these ideas.

 After that, I try to find the right perspective. This can sometimes happen quickly, but it may take months. I’ve always been intrigued by the year 1816—a volcanic eruption the year before created a thin layer of ash that encircled the globe. Enough light was blocked so that the temperature in some northern regions experienced winter conditions the following summer. At first, I envisioned a narrative poem set to music.

 I tried writing in the third person, but the result felt detached and academic. I couldn’t imagine myself singing such a song. At some point, I decided to turn away from delivering a history lecture, and instead made 1816 a setting for a fable. I told a story from the viewpoint of a pregnant young girl, who is promised marriage by her lover in a spring that never arrives. Once I got this idea, “Year Without A Summer” seemed to write itself, and the resulting lyrics were more fluid and much more natural to sing.

The process was similar with the song, “Any Forgotten Thing.” Ken came up with the title, and the idea of using an old house as a metaphor for loneliness. I really liked this idea, but couldn’t get a grasp on how to make it into a song, especially one to which others could relate. To this end, I tried to be loose with the metaphor, to leave plenty of room for listener interpretation. I waited a while, hoping for the right images to appear.

Eventually I began to picture a person’s hands becoming unreliable–maybe because they shake, or they’re arthritic, or whatever. I liked the idea of the body breaking down, like any old machine. So that was the first verse. For the second, it seemed important to incorporate time and solitude. For the person in the song, there’s no point trying to keep up with the clock, so why bother winding it?

 My favorite part of this song to write was the subject thinking about replacing the doorbell, if only to hear it ring once again. This image seemed to fit, and to show–hopefully in a subtle way–how much time has passed since this person has had a visitor. For the last verse, I wanted to deal with the issue of regret, because it seems as though that might be connected with loneliness. And I got the image of someone examining their memories or themselves the way one might rummage through old items tossed into an attic, trying separate the treasures from the trash. Finally, I wanted to suggest the possibility that this period of loneliness is only temporary–an in-between time that allows for self-reflection.

 NBTMusicRadio: I believe Ken worked on the Rebecca ‘solo’ recordings as well, so to both of you; what is the fundamental difference between those and Hungrytown?
HungryTown: The fundamental difference between the Rebecca Hall and Hungrytown recordings is basically the passage of time–performing and recording as a duo is something that happenedgradually for us. When we met in NYC many years ago, Ken was a rock drummer in about seven different bands and I was singing torch songs in Soho bars. I was not writing songs at all at that time, just learning to perform and do my own interpretation of standards.

Then, inspired by the 1997 re-issue of the Harry Smith Folk Anthology, I picked up a guitar for the first time and began to write songs based on traditional ballads.
My first album, Rebecca Hall Sings!, was recorded very simply on a Tascam 4-track. The songs were coming so quickly for me at that time, and I was just trying to get them down.Ken helped me with some basic arrangements, and wrote all the harmony parts. We were very casual about this recording; it was something we just did for ourselves, so we were surprised when a local radio station, WFMU, got hold of a copy and started playing it
regularly. That was really encouraging, and we started work on my second solo album,Sunday Afternoon, very shortly afterwards.

This time, Ken was even more involved, he wasresponsible for all the arrangements and production, and we co-wrote a few of those songs.By that time, I was performing regularly with various New York City musician friends–my lineup was basically whoever could get to the gig that week. And Ken would come up on
stage and play harmonica sometimes, and would sing harmonies with me. Once we had a gig booked, but all my usual band members were out of town, so Ken and I just decided to dothe gig by ourselves.

We realized that we really liked this new, stripped-down approach.We began performing as a duo, traveling to gigs all around New England. We both still had day jobs at that point, but we were so unhappy at work, and so contented when we were playing music, that we just decided to see if we could make a living by touring. So in late 2003 we quit NYC, and moved to the hills of Vermont–a great place to write and record, and much more affordable than Manhattan!

We were still performing under the rather ungainly name “Rebecca Hall and Ken Anderson,” and realized that we needed a band name for ourselves. At around that point, we had just finished writing a song called Hungrytown Road–a country waltz inspired by a real road in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia–that seemed to be popular at our shows. One day Kensaid, “why don’t we just call ourselves Hungrytown?” and the name just stuck. Very soon
afterwards we began work on our eponymously titled debut album. Hungrytown took about three years to record, and featured several guest musicians–excellent bluegrass pickers The Virginia Ramblers, as well as our friends Mike Merenda and Ruth Ungar from The Mammals. We had so much fun making that album, and the mobile recording method really reflected our travels during that time. It was recorded at various locations along the
east coast–a double-wide trailer in Virginia, a home studio in the Catskills and a traditional New England meeting house.

A few years of almost non-stop touring went by, and we wrote many songs while we were on the road. Finally, in 2010 we realized we were ready to make a new album. We took a two-month break from performing, and this time around decided to do the whole thing byourselves, in our home studio. We co-wrote many of the songs for Any Forgotten Thing, and Ken wrote all the arrangements and played multiple instruments on these recordings. We
brought in our talented neighbor, Laura Molinelli, to sing backing vocals on a few tracks, but otherwise, it’s just us. We wanted this album, more than any other, to reflect our sound as a duo, and were very pleased with the result.

Oh My Darling

http://www.ohmydarling.ca/

NBTMusicRadio: Although your album is titled ‘’Sweet Nostalgia’’ and the music you make is steeped in tradition, the listener never feels that your album is a museum piece, there is something reassuringly modern in the feel.  Could you explain how this ‘’essence’ of 2012 onwards slips into your music, and what modern acts thrill the ladies of OMD

Oh My Darling : We all have a true love for traditional sounds and songs, whether they are Old-Time Appalachian, Franco-Canadian Métis, Bluegrass, Irish traditional or classic country, we find our common ground in the love of the traditional sounds. But we all are very inspired by what is going on in the music scene on the current stage as well. We find ourselves inspired by amazing groups like The Punch Brothers, Joy Kills Sorrow, Andrew Bird, The Goat Rodeo Sessions and modern songwriting styles, anything that is pushing the boundaries within this genre. We are inspired by the traditional sounds and put elements of that into our sound but we love to create new rhythms, chord progressions, lyrical and melodic styles that may be unorthodox to the hardcore traditionalists, we like the blend of something old and something new

NBTMusicRadio: While the music is indeed sweet, the lyrics hint at darker themes at times, illicit affairs, love and betrayal, escaping the city and so on, was this something that only cropped up in this album or is the balance tween dark and light a very necessary thing for a perfect album.

Oh My Darling: When we were looking at the collection of songs that we had for Sweet Nostalgia, there was an underlying theme of nostalgia that ran through all of the songs. Nostalgia can hold many sentiments, love, loss, hope, despair, sadness, joy… We weren’t looking to write songs that had particularly dark or light sentiments, we just wrote. As the songs came together the feeling of nostalgia pulled all the songs together. The presence and balance of dark and light belong to us within the songs and on the album but also the feelings of sweetness and beauty of reflecting on the past

Marty Rivers

http://www.martyrivers.com/

NBTMusicRadio: The album was recorded in Nashville; do you think it’s important to go to the ‘source’ as it were when recording a country music album or could just as fine album be created in Malta for instance?

Marty: Although I believe that a fine album can be produced almost anywhere but to bring together in one place such a wonderful group of top ‘country music’ session musicians together with such a producer like Gary Carter is very hard unless I’ll bring them all over to Malta; even still, Nashville itself is a source of inspiration to any musician or songwriter so even though it will be interesting to records my next project here on the island but Nashville surely is The Place.

NBTMusicRadio: In the Song Run Angel Run are you writing about any city in particular when you call it ‘this damn Babylon’?

Marty: Well, the City in mind was ‘L.A.’; many young people’s dreams are being shattered there; They go to Babylon with just a dream and so many of them end up living in the street; but in reality Babylon can be New York, London or any other big city or even Nashville; it’s great to see so many people living their dream but sometimes it’s also painful to see where so many of them can end up when they trust the wrong people

Nico Wayne Toussaint

http://www.wix.com/nicowaynetoussaint/lonelynumber

NBTMusicRadio: There is an unhurried languid feel about the songs on the album, were the recording sessions as calm and comfortable as this suggests?

Nico: The recording sessions were done in Montreal, Canada. The sound engineer / producer / drummer Nicky Estor is a long time friend, such as the guitar player. That session was like old friends getting back together. So it was efficient but without the pressure. Another element for your answer is that Nicky Estor comes from a New Orleans musical background, as well as blues. He loves music like Keb Mo’ or G Love and the Special Sauce. That kind of influences show also in his way to handle the mix and the overall approach of the production

NBTMusicRadio: Guy Davis contributes a stunning bluesy vocal on ‘How Long To Heal’ can you tell us how this recording came about?

Nico: My encounter with Guy happened in my home town, Bayonne, France, were Guy came to do a show, 5 days before i was flying to Montreal to cut my album. We played together that evening and his manager mentioned that it would be a great idea to have Guy on the album, since we were going to be so close one and the other, Guy lives in NY. I had only one song I wanted to play acoustic on the CD and that was ‘’How Long To Heal’’. It couldn’t be a better song for Guy and me to meet.

Brock Zeman

http://www.brockzeman.com/

NBTMusicRadio: The track, ‘Light in the Attic’ from a lyrical point of view has a cool and interesting structure, in that although it’s about the ‘traditional’ song theme of Break UP, it focuses rather on observing life AROUND it rather. How did the creation of this song come about?

Brock: That song was written all in one shot on my porch. I just picked everything out of the air as it fell into place. I like to put a lot of my surroundings and experiences into my songs. If you’re honest about what you do, what you do will always sound new.

NBTMusicRadio: How do you balance running a label and the fine focus that a new album insists on, and will you get some Mud Records artists to us to play on NBTMusicRadio ?

Brock: I like being in the studio as much as possible. Having a label gives me the chance to do that. People have given all of our releases some great praise, so we just keep doing what we do. I tend to lean on the side of music I’m getting the most response from. Sometimes it’s playing live, sometimes it’s writing and recording. I bounce back and forth and it somehow works.
Love to send you all the releases! Robert Larisey, Brothers Through The Hill & Tom House!

Elisabeth Carlisle

http://www.glacierrecords.com/

NBTMusicRadio: Songs like 6000 Miles have a lovely widescreen, cinematic feel to the way they flow, yet feel unforced and not over dramatic. How do you as a songwriter maintain that balance tween, a personal theme, and being detached enough to craft a tune that all of us can relate to?

Elisabeth:If you listen to my first 2 CDs you’ll discover that I primarily write from experiences, whether they’re my own or someone else’s. I can get pretty detailed in those descriptions, as I did in 6000 Miles. I think every songwriter that has spent a fair amount of time touring has a song about “coming home” or being away from those we love. I actually have a song called “Coming Home” on my Roll With the Flow CD! When it came to production the verses seemed to be more reflective and in thought, with the chorus popping out in more desperation. I love the band Train and feel that my production history is very similar to theirs. It must be that we’re both from the Bay Area and have grown up on the same style of music such as Journey, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, etc. So I think that the emotional energy that Bay Area bands have always produced comes out in me on a song like 6000 Miles.

NBTMusicRadio: for the EP, two songs were recorded in Sweden and two in California, to YOU when you have the finished songs what is the major difference in how the songs sound? (For example with the Swedish productions I found that delightful POP sensibility sneaking its way into the tracks)

Elisabeth: It’s not uncommon to have different producers on a CD. The trick is trying to keep a thread of consistency throughout the songs so they flow well together. For me that has always been my voice and keeping the keyboard prominent, which is my main instrument other than my voice. My first CD had 3 producers, with me as co-producer and had a “live” band feel throughout. For my second CD I wanted to have one producer with me and focus on a coherent style for each song. I also felt I was dangerously teetering on becoming too “Folk Rock” with my Northern California roots. I had been working in Sweden as a pianist and loved the “Pop” sound that many Swedish artists have. I thought that if I could combine those two elements of Folk Rock and Pop I’d have a true representation of me as an artist. My friend led me to Amir Aly at Yla (pronounced oo-la) Studios in Malmo where I ended up recording Roll With The Flow. I had moved back to California when writing for the EP, so time and distance only allotted for the two songs to be recorded in Malmo with Amir and my original band from Sweden. For me, it just doesn’t get better than that.

 Kenny Schick produced the last two songs and did a great job. He’s also from the Bay Area so they definitely swing more towards that original “Folk Rock” I was talking about. The major difference is that Amir does a lot more layering and looping, which brings a fullness and energy to the songs. I actually wanted Call Me A Mystery to be full on electronica, but my drummer Mattias wouldn’t have it. That’s where working with excellent musicians can help keep the balance. Of course, he was right in the end and the songs came out exactly as they should be.

 Kyle Carey

http://www.kyleannecarey.com/

NBTMusicRadio: from a lyrical point of view how difficult is the creation of a song, do the words just slip in themselves like old friends, or do they have to be coaxed into the structure of the tune?

Kyle: Lyrically every song is different, and the writing process is something I never try to push too hard. Some songs come very quickly, for example I wrote ‘Orange Blossom’ during my sophomore year of college. I remember I’d just returned home from a party where I’d felt very out of place and alone. I figured I might as well do something with the emotions charging through me so I sat down and ‘Orange Blossom’ came to me in a span of about ten minutes. On the other hand, ‘Adenine’ took about a week to write, and most of my other songs at least a couple days. I’m working on a song at the moment I think could take up to a month. When I’m writing I try to take breaks, and if I’m struggling for the right word or rhyme, I just let the idea sit for a while, and like clockwork, it eventually comes.

NBTMusicRadio: You describe your music as ‘’Gaelic Americana’’ when  the songs are still in demo form, do they veer to one aspect of this over another, or are the nuances of both those styles added subtly in the studio?

Kyle: Most of my originals are stylistically Americana in terms of their subject matter. The Gaelic/Celtic side of what I do comes from a background of having studied Scottish Gaelic and having lived in places like Cape Breton, Ireland and Scotland. The more Celtic influences found in my album are due to the fact that it was recorded in Ireland and produced by Donogh Hennessy, with mostly Celtic artists in the collaboration. So while the music started off as almost straight Americana, the other influences were added primarily in-studio.

I think Donogh and I balanced each other well during the creation process, for example ‘Gaol ise Gaol i’ the one Gaelic track on the album, is where his Celtic expertise really shines, and he was certainly at the forefront for the vision of the song’s arrangement. However, when the song was nearly complete, I worried that it lacked the Americana influence that it the main theme of the album, so I suggested we throw in a banjo part, and surprisingly, it fit great!

Tom Kell

http://www.tomkell.com/

NBTMusicRadio: ‘This Desert City’ marks a return to the studio after a lengthy absence , How easy was it to slip back into the ‘habit’ as it were, and what was the same and what was different  compared to past sessions, technically and personally?

Tom: Recording has really never been a “rare” occurrence for me.
While “This Desert City” does indeed mark my return to the radio, I’ve always been recording something it seems. I did a few “Gospel” records over the past few years and am constantly doing “publishing” demos of my songs. I write almost every day, so there’s always something to record.
The beauty of the “This Desert City” sessions was that I once again got to record with some amazing musician friends I’ve made over the years in LA. There just is no better band for my kind of songwriting. Every player and singer on that record was a perfect choice. They happened to be friends of mine too, which made the experience all the better. This project also marked the return of my collaboration with producer Jeffery Cox.

NBTMusicRadio: The track, ‘’The Way Of The World’’ is a gentle bitter sweet take on fame that twists half way through to become a much darker thing, can you tell us more about the writing and creation on this song?

Tom: “The Way of The World” is really just a compilation of the many stories I’ve read about or seen happen while living in Los Angeles for all these years. The next “big” thing is celebrated then discarded day after day, time after time. “She was a French girl, she came to LA for the heat” is the opening line. The rest was easy. It’s a story of fame, lust and envy, with the darkest of endings. I’m pretty sure I must’ve read about the shooting in The LA Times but don’t recall for sure.

West Of Eden

http://www.westofeden.com/

NBTMusicRadio:  the creative and recording process of this fine album is fascinating! Did these periods of isolation (the ‘Plura’ and recording at a remote coastal location, PLUS the tragic subject matter), affect the musicians mood in any negative way, after all on the surface of it; this is all rather dark stuff!

West Of Eden: Of course it had an impact on us. This is after all rather serious and tragic tales, but I wouldn’t say that it affected us personally in a negative way. I think that it made us work harder than ever before to create an ambience in the songwriting and recording that would suit the subject of each song.

NBTMusicRadio: on Songs like ‘Coffin Ship’ i was intrigued by the fact that there was a country/Americana feel to the music, how did this come about?

West Of Eden: I would say that the Celtic music and the Americana / country-music have a strong connection. In our part of the world (Scandinavia) we hear more of American music such as Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, Ryan Adams than Celtic music on the radio, so it‘s no wonder that there could be some influences in our music. That said, I think a song like Coffin Ship also has a strong connection to the music of The Waterboys which was a heavy influence on us when we started West of Eden 15 year ago

Katrin

http://www.katrinmusic.com/

NBTMusicRadio:“Blame” is very Gospel in feel, a soulful requiem of sorts, did that sound spring from the subject matter, or was that something that happened in the studio?

Katrin: I wrote and previously recorded “Blame” in a more acoustic, stripped down way. The melody and lyrics have always been the foundation of the song. With the opportunity to revisit the song, and the atmosphere we had to record in ( a renovated church called Dreamland) That MUST have been an influence to the gospel comparison you speak of, but also, the musicians especially Daniel Weiss on organ made for a whole new vibe on this recording. Then there is the way that I have evolved as a singer, and there has been a deepening and a passage that I have experienced. I guess can attribute that to time, perseverance, and life kicking me in the ass. I keep coming back stronger

NBTMusicRadio: Songs like ‘ Far Away’ are pretty layered lyrically, both emotional and story driven, how long do you ‘live’ with a piece, before you take it to the next level of Musicians and the studio, and once there do you sometimes find that the process takes them into completely new directions or do they stay as close to your original concept as possible?

Katrin: All the musicians helped me take this song and make it into more. They rocked it where it called for it, and brought the intimacy in the lyrically vulnerable moments. Jerry Marotta produced this song and it was one of the first tracks we started with in the studio. I wrote part of “Far Away” a long time ago and decided to put it in the junk yard and scrap it for parts. It was either that or put it in the song cemetery. (A Scary place!)

That is when the chorus came to me “Got a minivan, parked right outside. Got a full tank, I could take a ride” and I thought about the person I was when I began writing the original tune. Stuck, and torn in a relationship I needed to leave.

It wasn’t long after the new chorus came, that the song was fully arranged and ready for musician’s input and some pre-production rehearsals.

There are so many ways songs journey to their fruition. This one was particularly long, but that’s what it needed I guess. It was worth the wait and to have the courage to allow the evolution to happen.

Don’t Forget

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The NBT Review 88

The Scorpion In The Story – Tori Sparks (Glass Mountain Records)

Every time you listen to a piece of music you are entering into a journey. Depending on the art and talent of the creator, the songs will take you to places away from where you sit and listen. Sometimes they will take you to truth and knowledge deep inside of yourself, secrets you didn’t even know you had, sometimes they will take you on adventures, show you strange souls, show you the ragged wonder hiding behind the ordinary blur too many of us take for granted.

Without really setting out to do so, Tori Sparks has concocted a set of stories about places she has traveled through while performing across the USA, observing in fragments and miniatures the ever ongoing battles and victories of those curious mortals that live and strive and love there.

We observe along side her and learn with her, not just about the things she sees, but the way they touch her inside. So in a way dear listener this is really thirteen chapters, all about, You.

 Chapter one: On a choral whisper/grunt, over sleepy sly upright bass, and sweetly clear banjo, we slide into the slow focus dream of the perfect man, the perfect address, then as the song blossoms into full giddy country dance the wry truth tumbles gleefully in, the fairytale shimmer is blown away.

Refreshing.

Chapter Two: Does she escape these cascading photographs, black and white reminders, she drives fast but distance was never the cure for the ghosts in the past.

Chapter Three: As the honky tonk Taxman riff sashays around, the free girl sings in the voice of the trapped girl, what is she trapped by, by her lovers failed ambition, that’s a strong prison right there.

Chapter Four:  we mostly choose those who will make us safe, not those who make us happy. Slow dance of regret

Chapter Five: this is a minor epic, the singer tells of a life lived small and long, of the years of holding in, the singer can only respond with a song that breathes and yearns wide, she paints this brittle soul as if it were the entire world.

Chapter Six:  one of the stand out tracks, reminds one of the ‘other’ tori, but with less waft and with more dirt on her fingertips, this is the tears, then the smile through the tears, then the ‘what the hey!’ after the tears , get back on, this time around will be fun no matter what. This contains that secret ingredient of a hit song, the enjoyable heartbreak.

Chapter Seven:  Oh yes the Devil is such a charming man.

Chapter Eight:  the self image of the wild girl, after the chaos of the loud night, the quiet scary look at  the villain that may not even be there.

(All this to music that ties itself with understanding, to every word.)

Chapter Nine: look closer there are shadows in this picture of the sunlit couple.

Chapter Ten: the skill here is how she takes the story on, from the start of the disaster, and then travels on, she wants to ride the shockwaves, the afterglow, rather than the obvious big bang.

Chapter Eleven:  with a few lines the internal machine of the odd couple is caught, roots Americana  the Dixie Dregs  would be proud of.

Chapter Twelve:  Another hit in the dreaming, the subliminal brass touches deep inside, why is this not a mainstay on all the alternative playlists?

Chapter Thirteen: no not the end, cause this song makes you want to simply start the album again, come dance, come think, come lose yourself in these stories.

Don’t just take my word for it go here and find out for yourself

http://www.torisparks.com

Tori will be featured on NBT podcasts during September

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

If you use Internet Explorer you can stream snippets of a couple of the Tunes here

                               http://www.nextbigthing.co.za

  (After the intro Click on the ‘#Just want to look around# text it will take u thru to next page)

   A chart made up from browsers rating and listening to the song streams can be found here:

                                      http://nbttopten.podbean.com/

The NBT Review 79

Chocolate Paper Suites – Krista Detor (Tightrope Records)

It was tempting to get all theoretical on your ass for this, to pull out my battered vinyl copy of Dylan Thomas reading a Child’s Christmas In Wales and Do Not Go gentle.. Or mull over again the mystery and sadness of how politics killed a Poet close to a Fountain of Tears, but I am, like most good listeners that will hear this collection, simply just an intelligent savage, and it is what the music and the words give to me that is important, not the brilliant inspiration for their creation.

I noted too, that the fact that these songs are animated by Lorca, Thomas and Darwin amongst others is only mentioned in the various press releases and not on the album itself. So as they say wherever good music is on trial ‘let the songs speak for themselves’

The first suite ‘Oranges Fall Like Rain’ pushes open sudden storm like, questions shudder against descriptions and the lonely brooding strings blow and wrap around the vocals ever surging forward.

The singer, the storyteller has a gift for noticing the small things, the colour of things, making these scenes live vibrant. The suite continues with dreamy piano, creating an underwater tension, the story (not the song) speeds up, the colours agitated now, there is a riot of the senses going on and it is beautiful, intensified in the third section as the singer drifts from distant to harmonic intimate.

The ‘Night Light’ begins with a slow dancing to wounded genius jazz, there is Love here, unfiltered, unashamed of how frail it may be,  this is how the world listens, that world above your rooftop, that world beyond your fence.

From this the focus shifts subtly, the warmth is gently danced away and the moon, slightly cold but swinging sweetly sets the singer apart from her previous affection. We are now there in black and pinpoint white star night, alluring sure, the now of the Dazzling has changed for the thoughtfulness of tomorrow and what it may bring.

The Bass burps into the third suite the ‘Madness Of Love’ these are hours made giddy with coffee, cigarettes and dangerous emotional chemicals, the journey here is from crush to anger (held in) to contempt and finally stopping at a weary kind of regret. Perhaps this singer knows the one deep truth, that try as we might, these journeys will take place within our life, again and again.

The fourth suite is perhaps my favourite ‘cause I too have played that dream game of wishing to have more time or replay time to want to rewrite a history of a love affair, the way I do a piece of fiction, in fact what good listener hasn’t? But the singer here doesn’t stop with this, she shifts her attention to a conversation between two souls who know or at least can guess (pretty damn well) each others moods and thoughts. Intricate love songs if you will. This is ‘By Any Other Name’

The bonus suite  ‘Darwin Song House’  (including an absolutely stunning live rendition of ‘Clock Of The World’ with guest vocals by Karine Polwart, Emily Smith and Rachael Mcshane) cleverly captures the emotions , fears and admiration of both Darwin’s detractors and those who found comfort in his beliefs. The singer ends the album with a Lullabye, a wife telling a loved one to forget the battle for now and let the profound pure love of a father for his daughter take over.

This album is inspiring, human, and full of wonder. One of the best sets of the year.

http://www.kristadetor.com

Catch Tunes from the Album on the NBT podcast going out on the 22nd July 2010

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

If you use Internet Explorer you can stream snippets of a couple of the Tunes here

                               http://www.nextbigthing.co.za

  (After the intro Click on the ‘#Just want to look around# text it will take u thru to next page)

   A chart made up from browsers rating and listening to the song streams can be found here:

                                      http://nbttopten.podbean.com/

The NBT Review 77

Heavy Water Experiments – Heavy Water Experiments (Intrepid Sound Recordings)

Sometimes the elements connect in just the right way and surround the listener with the right mood, environment, in which better to discover new music. Today as I explore this collection, the heat wave pulses, the road works outside shake and shout, in fact the whole damn day positively VIBRATES as I press play.

Welcome to the disturbance, it’s going to be a fine ride indeed.

This is the sound of a mirage, gentle shimmer of unreality, then that heat (now here in the speakers) explodes outwards, the dream figures melt, the colours collide, mesh frantic, the drums tiptoe up top the flames, and the song settles into an agitating lullaby. The vocals shift into focus, the harmonies subtle, and within all this fine magic, pop melodies strain against the ‘difference’.

Like a storm sneaking into the glare of a summer’s day, this band thrives on the ambiguity of it all, glorious messy mix of the chaos in the Jam and the structure of the song craft.

They let the instruments roar, and sing as people used to flying, finding the swoops and danger above somehow calming. There is a scent of the Psychedelic madness here, a tension grown from the soon to be freedom of the willfully frantic.

It is a place where the ghost of a traffic jam is filtered over the serenity of a deep forest, where the grit and grandeur of a festival edging into sunset along the howls of guitars is superimposed over forgotten photos of homes long lost by destructive lovers.

Never clumsy enough to be mistaken for simple hard rock, never bland enough to please those that seek the new age as a refuge from the difficult, it is an invitation to let go, to ride the hallucination bare back, to get fierce, to go crazy.

A LOT to discover here.

http://www.heavywaterexperiments.com/

Catch Tunes from the Album on the NBt podcast going out on the 8th July 2010

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

If you use Internet Explorer you can stream snippets of a couple of the Tunes here

                               http://www.nextbigthing.co.za

  (After the intro Click on the ‘#Just want to look around# text it will take u thru to next page)

   A chart made up from browsers rating and listening to the song streams can be found here:

                                      http://nbttopten.podbean.com/

The NBT Review 76

Gorgeous Enormous

Through A Screen Door Darkly – Carolyn Alroy (Wussy Records)

Love can be funny in a bitter sighing sweet way, especially when connected to a desire that is unspoken but deeply felt, mulled over, knocked about in an internal debate, while the focus of all this remains blithely ignorant. And so it begins with crystal clear simple guitar gracefully (all Byrds jangle) waiting for the vocal to complete it.

Alroy continues with the theme of things left unsaid, actions not yet taken, one gets the feeling that with every hidden thought, the picture of the singer’s self awareness becomes stronger, crisper. There is a flexing against mental bonds and this is the story of how they were broken.

Sometimes she changes personas and we get sweet with the bitter almost dropped, but made palatable by her intuitive sense of detail and mood. In those songs Love isn’t complicated it’s just something you want to, HAVE to flow along with. If you dare allow yourself that is.

Then back to the internal, the sound of revolution, heard by the girl who wants to be on the front line, wants her shout noticed wants her tears acknowledged, wants it to be the world where anything can happen.

This is a set of songs that seem to try putting into words what so many of us feel day to day, in our private ramblings and our social striving. This is an album about the delicious tension of WAITING.

Even the wondrous cover of Helter Skelter strips the fear and insanity of the original away and aims rather, for the taught desire, the Waiting to get that dance..just..right..

And what is beautiful about all this, is the fact that the outcome is nowhere near predictable.

The EP that follows is indeed a darker thing. Less pop country now, this has an eerie folk feel about it.  The perceptions here are distorted by mirrors, through the textures of screen doors, refracted by flickers of light. Love becomes as dangerous as the sea, and the common things in the girl’s world become talismans , roses and phones and tea all become extraordinary as we move in slow haunted motion in and out of these songs.

I for one look forward to whatever comes next from this talented songrwriter.

http://www.carolynalroy.com

Catch Tunes from both Album and EP on the next NBt podcast going out on the 8th July 2010

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

If you use Internet Explorer you can stream snippets of a couple of the Tunes here

                               http://www.nextbigthing.co.za

  (After the intro Click on the ‘#Just want to look around# text it will take u thru to next page)

   A chart made up from browsers rating and listening to the song streams can be found here:

                                      http://nbttopten.podbean.com/

The NBT Review 75

On Concrete – Pollyanna (Songs&Whispers)

In this rainy day world, kitchens are not for comfort, the sugar, the glow of Christmas treats cannot quietly heal a broken love. But, no! this is no doom and gloom thing at all, when we first hear this band, Her words lay out the facts with a wry acceptance, and his minimal harmonies give her strength.

This acceptance takes on an ambiguity in the next song, A Landscape,  her affair here destructive perhaps even fatal, and as she sings ‘..it doesn’t matter if it hurts..’ is that because its worth every bit of pain, or is it that she has, just, given up?  The swirls of Electric Guitar here are wonderful because they are simply implied rather than showy or overbearing.

The players switch easily from tender to torrid,(the instrumentation echoes this) sometimes within the same song, their vision of beauty is often spiked, even cruel, and then they switch focus on us and allow shafts of the darkly romantic to blur into the melodies, they make each song seem crowded with possibility.

Songs are allowed to build, to breathe, and to whisper through, notes follow on hesitant notes and the haunting takes place. The uneasy desire is stretched, the wanting tightens internally and like a Hitchcock film of the soul we long for the release the singer craves but cannot quite dare find.

When the traditional ballad ‘Railroad Boy’ slips into place, we the entranced, now haunted listeners are not surprised, these are all in their way death ballads, not always the death of the body though, sometimes the past, the cities, even how nature fades, but again I must stress, these are NO angsty things, rather tales of regret sung to clear the way forward to a different day.

There is nothing wispy about this modern Folk music. The more I listen the more I feel the vitality  of these intricate constructions.

It’s an easy album to fall for.

http://www.pollyanna.org/

Hear tracks from this album coming up on the NBT Podcast going out on the 8th July 2010

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

The NBT Review 74

Laptop Campfire Speed – Marco Mahler (Independent Release)

Imagine sitting, as passenger, behind your beloved as they hurtle down the highway on their seemingly ancient motorbike. You have a worn hand held camera and you are making movies of all that slides past.

This is the soundtrack to that surreal blur.

Here the strange things, the dark even disturbing things, are camouflaged by the twinkled reflection of shiny minimalist pop, the hushed voice comforts, seduces, distracts, and  the weird is natural now, the abstract makes sense.

This music is as honest as architecture made for function and as a gift; it has that throb about it only found in CDs like this and airports at 3 am in the morning. It is a little girl turning cartwheels for her mother (the giddy chaos of her perceptions stretched, slowed down, made melodic) and the thoughts of that lover holding on tight and capturing the journey as you ride.  

Sometimes, the structure closes into the conventional, although of course that’s a Lou Reed late Saturday night conventional, that ambiguous drift from detached observer to a wry empathy, so that if you are working (for example typing frantic as I am now) and listening, suddenly the song stops being background, kinda demands you stop what you are doing, and focus on what you are hearing instead.

The composer trusts in the coziness of repetition , these are modern blues songs for the TV channel surfer ,as I flipped through endless variations of BBC One,( Ireland, Whales, London and so on) the staggered peculiar slide of the narrative reminded me stronglyof the Mahler song ‘I’ll Just Find A Million Other Things To Do.’’

Yes, this is yet another collection to treasure and to live with.

http://www.marcomahler.com/

You can hear Songs from this album on the NBT Podcast going out on the 30th June 2010

http://nextbigthing.libsyn.com/

If you use Internet Explorer you can stream snippets of a couple of the Tunes here

                               http://www.nextbigthing.co.za

  (After the intro Click on the ‘#Just want to look around# text it will take u thru to next page)

   A chart made up from browsers rating and listening to the song streams can be found here:

                                      http://nbttopten.podbean.com/