Behind the Scenes – New Album in Progress
The summer here in the UK started off pretty cold so I decided to make a start on recording a new album that I had been planning from the beginning of the year. At the time of writing I have recorded four songs and am currently working on the fifth.
It’s dedicated to my late mother who passed away last October after being ill with cancer.
Her favourite song of mine was “The dancing flames” which appeared on my album Flying High, recorded in 2009. She said she liked the poetry of the lyrics. I had first recorded the song when I did a course on studio production while living in Birmingham, and the arrangement included acoustic guitar, drums and keyboard. However when I recorded the song in 2009 I just played guitar and ‘cello on it, a kind of stripped back version. Then a few years ago I saw a sync licensing opportunity that seemed to fit the theme of “The dancing flames” so I re-recorded it with a backing track. I wasn’t successful with the sync licensing opportunity so I didn’t do anything more with it.
Then last year when my mother said she would like the song played at her funeral I gave her a recording of the version with the backing track, which she approved of. The song was played during the moment of reflection in the funeral service, and it seemed appropriate as in the lyrics I compare stages of life with the parts of a fire – the flames, the embers and the ash. I recorded the vocals again earlier this year with the help of my singing tutor Corinne Shields, as I had been taking singing lessons and thought the track would benefit from having my now stronger voice.
One of the first songs I decided to include in this project is one that I started writing at my mother’s house on New Year’s Eve 2015 while my brother and his family were visiting from Leeds. It just describes what everyone was doing – my sister-in-law and nephew were doing crochet, my niece was playing Minecraft, my brother was on his laptop and my mother was just chatting. The song became “Minecraft and crochet”; I never got round to playing it to my mother but did play it to my brother’s family and my sister on a recent trip to South Wales (where my mother was from).
My mother was cared for by a number of nurses in the last few weeks of her life, firstly from Marie Curie and the district nurse, then also by team from the Rowan’s Hospice. There were so many of them coming at set times each day that I was inspired to write “Round the clock”, as there was always someone on hand, or at the end of the phone if needed. It is a tribute to all the nurses, who were so kind and caring, getting on with the job of attending the needs of the terminally ill. I am planning to record this song with Corinne.
To pay tribute to my Welsh heritage I thought I would include a traditional Welsh song, and one that my mother was familiar with. I have a book of Welsh folk songs, entirely in Welsh, that I bought from a music shop when I lived in Birmingham. I lent it to my mother, and she said the song in the book she recalled the most was “Nos galan” (New Year’s Eve). She said she learnt it as a child; it is sung to the tune more commonly known as the Christmas carol “Deck the halls”, but the original Welsh words are about New Year’s Eve. This will be an acapella arrangement in two parts.
I hope this gives you a flavour of the new album – look out for more stories behind some of the other songs in a future post. The photo below is the last one I took of my mother, on a day out on the Pink Ferry on the River Hamble in Hampshire. Also pictured are my brother, niece and sister-in-law.