After three long years in drydock, the Hold the Door Open album is back in production. I’m excited and scared. My ambitions for this album are a bit loftier than they were for Hidden Gold. Some of that is by design, some of it is by circumstance.
- My target is once again 12 tracks, but, well, the album is gonna be longer, with (I’m hoping) a little more variety of sound and style.
- I’m digging a little deeper on authenticity for the period music, and there is a little more of it. Hidden Gold had two Elizabethan-period tunes on it, one of which included the lute part (performed heroically by Dave Lambert), and the other of which was done with synthesized harpsichord (thank you Arden). For this one, I will be recording 3 or 4 lute pieces, one of which is an original composition in Elizabethan style. I intend to record myself doing the lute (-guitar) on most if not all of these. On the one hand, studio recording allows me to record using as many takes as I need to. On the other, a recorded song needs to sound rock solid on repeated listens, and I have no idea whether my lute skills are up to the task.
- The harmonies are more ambitious. Hold the Door Open has two original songs on it that include four-part harmony and counterpoint, for longer stretches than any of the songs on the first album. I’ve had to invest a lot of time to make sure these harmonies serve the songs and won’t distract or make them harder to follow.
- Probably the biggest difference is that I’m operating almost entirely without my one-man Swiss Army knife, Arden of Icombe (aka Paul Butler). My initial plans for the album were to bring in a broader array of musicians for the sake of variety, but last year, when I started trying to figure out how to get the project going again, I decided to scrap that and see if Arden could jump in and bring his incredible talents for arranging and recording an enormous range of instruments to bear in the interest of time. Ultimately, Paul, like so many of us, has had an attack of life, and his availability for this project has been extremely limited. So I went back to my first plan and started exploring my musical network for musicians who could provide what I needed either locally or remotely. It also meant that I had to figure out, if not specific arrangements, how to shape and vary up the sound on each song on my own. I think the lessons I’ve learned from Hidden Gold and Sing for the East are going to bear fruit, but only time will tell.
I’m going to try not to play my cards too close to my chest this time around. I want to blog about this a little more, and show my work. I know there are other people out there dreaming, pondering, and planning to record their own music, some of them with as little experience or formal background as I had over a decade ago when I started. Sharing our knowledge and experience is one of the things that makes the communities I’m part of so special. So here we go.