It features 10 brand new songs, the bulk of which were co-written with songwriters from the USA, including Rebecca Pronsky, Amy Allison, Steve Taylor, Denison Witmer, Andy Zipf and Bill DeMain. Part road-trip journal, part academic exercise and part collaborative experiment, I think this new record is my strongest yet 🙂
You can listen to it here:
And read some more about how it came together here:
In late 2013, as part of a Masters Creative Project I was undertaking at the University of the West of Scotland, I travelled to the USA to work with five songwriters based in Philadelphia, New York, Washington DC and Nashville.
The title of my project was: “In what ways does the collaborative process challenge, influence and change the creative practice of the confessional songwriter?”
At each songwriting session I presented my co-writer with an incomplete song I had written from a ‘confessional’ point of view (i.e. personal and diaristic in nature). We then attempted to finish the song, transforming the writing process from a solitary venture into a collaborative effort.
After returning home, I recorded demos of all the co-writes, handing in a 10-track album and a 5000-word contextualisation as my finished project (for which I *just* scraped an A). Having had my fill of academia for at least one lifetime, I took a big step back from the whole project, leaving the dust to settle on it for over 18 months. After recording and releasing ‘The Great Divide’ and ‘Scars Are Like A Beacon’ (my last 2 albums) I felt the time was right to return to these songs.
The process of re-visiting, tweaking and re-recording this album has not been an easy one (and could have been another Masters project all by itself) but, for me, the experience has become much more than just the creative-process-challenging academic exercise it started out as back in 2013. As well as being a document of my journey to the States (found-sounds recorded on my trip are liberally scattered throughout the record), the songs on this album explore the themes of self-doubt and writer’s block (Sugar Coat and Dirt), loneliness, individualism and the meme of the solitary genius (Companion), my love of Johnny Cash intermingled with a friend’s experience of depression (Nickajack), self-sabotage (Standing Up Tall), and my old friends doubt and post-evangelicalism (Culnakirk Hill and Testament). Two key influences on the lyrics were Carol Craig’s book ‘The Scots’ Crisis of Confidence’ and ‘Stages of Faith’ by James W. Fowler.
Please do have a listen and, if you like what you hear, please do buy it and let other people know about it 🙂