THERE IT IS: Album Notes
The recording of There It Is encompassed a decade of my life. Granted, there were long delays due to various factors: computer malfunctions (which led to my studio system being rebuilt twice), new songs replacing finished ones, months spent learning recording techniques and software, and changes in my overall goals (“Should I finish an album, or focus on a 3-song demo?”). Probably two albums’ worth of songs were written and then discarded before the final selection was decided on.
Although the album incorporates a lot of styles, I like to think there’s a common thread in the lyrical themes: The quest for authenticity, and the ways people distract themselves from seeking it. If people some day talk about the “TDS sound”, I hope it’s reflected in the way all the parts are put together, as opposed to anything as specific as a vocal gimmick or drum sound. That would make the album a good representation of me as a musician, and a person: not a virtuoso at any one thing, but with enough varied talents to fit all the pieces into a mosaic worth looking at.
I hope “There It Is” becomes one of your favorites!
Your friend in music, Dee
The Songs & The Process
Psychic Surgery: Inspired by a scene in the film “Man in the Moon”. About the lengths people go to in order to ignore the obvious answers. The opening riff sat dormant for years, and the lyrics came much later. It all clicked once I imagined the two together. Blistering lead guitar work by Ty Tabor, easily my favorite guitar player in the world. My first attempt at recording live horns, first successful attempt still to come.
Worry Like I Do: Contains performances by some great friends from my time in Branson. Co-written by Ben Harper (no, not that one, the NEXT one!), who has a knack for coming up with hooks that make the rest of the song write itself. Twin guitar work by me and Matt Hanshaw. High harmony sung by Bucky Heard, a powerhouse rock vocalist.
- Lost Horizon: A favorite of mine from my hero, Todd Rundgren. It occurred to me that the song would sound cool on top of a Prince-like club groove, and it’s a type of song I love to sing, but rarely write. Lots of fun stacking the harmonies on this one, pretty sure I got in the right mood and did them all in one evening.
Solar System: It’s about the moment when you connect to a song for the first time, and it almost feels like you’ve crossed time and space and are in the room with the artist. Bass performance by the great Chris Kent, I’m blessed to have worked with him. The UFO landing at the end was one of those “happy studio accidents”.
The Drowning Pool: I had been listening to “This Must Be the Place” by the Talking Heads a lot when this was written, and it shows in the keyboard parts. Violin solo by Josh Moore; I asked him to imagine a Vincent Price movie, and play each take in a different register so the parts would harmonize with each other. Came out creepy and beautiful, just what I wanted! Bass part is a nod to Gene Simmons.
White Gold: A tribute to the elusive “woman of value” that many of us guys are looking for. I wanted it to sound like a rainy afternoon in a loft apartment. Jimmy Fulbright nailed the bass part in one take. Lovely keyboard work by Michael Davis, a haunting solo by Wayne Massengale, and some wonderful vocal ad-libs by Andre Shepard.
Diamonds in Her Wings: Another one about the search for the woman who makes wise choices, and therefore shines like a diamond compared to the rest. Equal parts Rod Stewart and Rick Springfield, in that space between dance and rock & roll.
Angel of Seduction: Inspired by meeting a woman who showed such reckless dishonesty that for a moment, I wondered if she was some sort of demon in human form. Smokin’ performances by two of Nashville’s best: Victor Broden on bass and Josh Henson on lead guitar. Harmony by Will Allen, a founding member of the band.
Watery Hands: Originally recorded by Superchunk, this is one of those I found myself singing harmonies to, and eventually decided it would be fun to put my spin on it. The chorus is poetry as lovely as any I’m aware of. Duet vocal with Bucky Heard, whose voice is a great contrast/complement to mine.
The Happy Song: A sonic journey through a dark mood. Do you look to a person, object, or activity to get you through it, or do you simply allow the various feelings to play themselves out, knowing this too shall pass? Co-lead vocal with my sister, the outstanding Jamie Martin.
Center of the Universe: A comment on some of the popular mindsets of the day, which seem to be nothing more than juvenile self-centeredness. The verse is meant to evoke something the Bangles would do, and the chorus harmonies are a nod to Kiss’ “Unmasked” album.
p.s. Thanks to Tasha Johnson of Team TNT for a dazzling vocal
which may or may not appear on this album.