Its been a while since my last post; lots been going on, but unfortunately the pace of getting things done has moved away from the writing and more towards the production side of things (MIDI editing, quantising, etc) which I always knew would be very time consuming. The thing is though, for the material to be of album release quality, as opposed to just demo “My Ears Only” quality, it means that a lot of care needs to be taken over virtually every single note, every single patch choice, vst, plugin….particularly when one leans as heavily on the technology as I do.

So, the last two months have seen a lot of progress made on some tracks (especially with the upgrade to Cubase 9 which has improved workflow even more), however millimetric it may seem to be. And, although I hoped that I would never do it, especially after having admonished my closest musical collaborator for doing it a few years ago, was rewriting lyrics. Some of the songs (and I cant believe I’m saying it!) were lyrically a bit too dark and I think I needed to move away from that. So:

Let It Go has been rewritten lyrically and is now in its most advanced state yet – four guitar parts, bass lines, synth lines, strings, all been rewritten, re-played and re-arranged. It is now much closer to my original Steinman/Skellern vision, which I’m very happy with. All it needs now, truthfully is the vocals adding and mixing.

Five Years (itself a re-write) has had a lot done to it as well which is somewhat odd for such a sparse track and again only needs three musical parts doing to it – a 70’s string machine part and a guitar e-bow line, and vocals.

Fear Of Missing Out and Elia/Last Dance have been almost finished to the point of just needing vocals.

Escape From The Shadows is in quite an advanced state – I had hoped for something closer to New Order‘s True Faith in its overall feel, but it seems to be dragging itself more into a combination of that feel but transported into the late 1990s instead. I’m letting it pull me in the direction I think it wants me to go in, but I’m not totally sure exactly where it is going to end up….yet.

Oh yes. Elia. The Last Dance doesnt really exist any more, the track is now Elia and the lyrics have been rewritten to fit into the kind of vibe that my uncle and the rest of Intensive Heat wrote in the 1970s and only the phrase “one last dance” remains from the original. I have considered rewriting Last Dance musically, closer to what I originally wanted but couldnt find, but maybe thats just me being a masochist, chasing an uncatchable butterfly purely because I can.

Manhattan Lullaby has been lyrically rewritten as well (much less maudlin as a result) and I’m about to rewrite the lyrics of Accidental Love. I have been kinda happy with Accidental up to now, anyway, but… for it even to be a proper album track that I’m going to be happy with, it is going to need a different focus as I’m starting to think its a little disjointed and at the moment is dependent on soloing and wise-arsed word play… at the moment, it depends on a musical focus that I’m not totally convinced I can offer. It needs a little something else…

And, in the coming weeks, I am hoping that the addition of a proper brushes library for Superior Drummer will allow me to make more progress on Manhattan Lullaby, Castles In The Sky, Doesnt Matter Now, No Getting Over You, Stay and the other jazzy tracks and to get them to have the space and dynamics that they need and deserve.

The entire project is taking an awful lot longer than what I thought it would. But I always knew that it would be a journey of discovery and it would place some big challenges in my path. Even with the much reduced commute, fitting it in amongst domestic and professional commitments is proving to be the biggest challenge I have had. As I’ve hinted at before, sometimes I’ve wondered if the fire had gone out altogether (particularly when trying to rewrite/re-record Dont Turn Away, which I threw several days at but it just wouldnt, wouldnt work, no matter what I tried, which was a bitter pill to swallow, considering how long it has been in gestation. I think I might have to leave that one to someone else to do instead, which is a pity but.. *shrugs* shit happens.

There have been moments where it has sailed close to the wind and I’ve wondered what the hell I’m doing this for, but this project is too far gone to pack it in now. I’m hoping to get more inspiration to get back into continue to developing more new lyrics, but there are already plenty of others that I’ve got that could still be rewritten and redeveloped – Tomorrow Too Soon, Birds and Butterflies, Another Day – all are germs of ideas in their first draft stage that could be developed into something.

Plenty to be getting on with then, over the coming months while the professional/work situation becomes more stable. The biggest part of me wishes (like you wouldnt believe how much) that I could find the energy to charge at it with a real head of steam and get it done, but I dont think thats the way it wants to go.

One thing I’ve learned about this art in the few short years I’ve been doing it is that you cant force it, no matter how much you might want to. If you do, it will not only suck, but deep down in your heart you’ll know it too, even if no one else does – and that is something that I would venture that I’m far from alone in not being comfortable with. I would prefer to put this out when I know that I have done my absolute best and cannot have done any more, that I cannot have put any more of my own soul, my own feel, my own blood, sweat and tears into it. Not because I forced it.

Just as well I dont do this for a living up against real deadlines, eh?