Thoughts on The Riverbank Faerie...
First and foremost, credit must be given to my primary
musical collaborator Ryan Eston Paul. Ryan was responsible
for the technical production and was an indispensable partner in
the creative production process as well. He enhanced each song’s
depth and viability as a co-arranger, and played a dynamic role as a
multi-instrumentalist. He was also the sole engineer- recording, mixing
and mastering the project in his own humble yet sturdy Sandcastle Recording Studio.
I am profoundly grateful for his efforts, skills, and faith in helping bring to fruition my vision
for The Riverbank Faerie. In many senses, this album is as much his as it is mine.
Additionally, this album features three fine female vocalists: Kristi Nelson
who can be heard fleetingly on The Dark-Eyed Sailor, Jamie Watson who is
featured on the title track, and most significantly, Jocelyn Paul whose voice
compliments the soundscape of nearly every song on the album. All three
of their voices have brought a great deal of magic to this project and I am very thankful.
Stylistically speaking, there are many influences and inspirations
at play for this recording; it is truly – for better or worse – a fusion.
Celtic, Folk, & Electronica are the three primary genres which hold
the most sway. Though clearly, there's more than just this musical
tripartite to factor in: Jazz and Gospel figure significantly in my upbringing
and so lend certain echoes to my efforts as well. Also, I am a fan of Afropean,
Balkan, Hungarian and Nordic sounds- World music in general. Invariably, my
affection for these diverse sounds makes itself known at times (however subtly
or inexpertly) through my singing and playing.
As for the stylistic elements Ryan has brought to this album, there are many:
classical, folk, electro-pop, hip-hop and more have been channeled into these
song arrangements through his skills with string orchestration, beat articulation,
and supporting instrumentation. Working with Ryan has been a very serendipitous
experience; successfully merging our diverse influences has created for me a sense
of optimistic faith in the recording process in general, as well as encouragement for the
potential of future projects.
Lyrically speaking, the songs on this album, both traditional and original,
are a collection of stories, scenes, or moments- some from life lived in
the Pacific Northwest, others from lives past and present of those in
traditionally Celtic lands. There is a variety of characters, creatures, and
powers making appearances in these songs: Ordinary Mortals- busily
working or sad and searching, Gods & Goddesses- questing and deciding,
Faeries- fleeting and inspiring, Warriors- fighting and courting,
Maids shepherding, Horses galloping, Selkies swimming, Rivers speaking,
The natural world and its monumental place in my spiritual perception of life
will always be present in my musical efforts, alongside notions or suggestions
of the supernatural and its importance for balancing the precariousness of human
existence. Additionally, the motif of mortality and the beauty it can bring through its
limited power is a strong motivator for me. I am at once a hopeless romantic and a
grim realist (not unlike many songwriters past and present), and so the romantic
and the everyday move side by side through these songs.
Of course, only half the songs on this album
were written by me, the other half were created by individuals
in centuries past, and have since been embellished or vandalized (depending on
one's perspective) many times over by the likes of enthusiastic fools such as myself.
We can only hope that the ghosts of these original authors will not frown too severely
on my 21st century re-interpretations.
Why did I choose these particular Traditional songs?
Well, a true analysis of my idiosyncratic criteria would
consume another seven paragraphs. So, I'll spare us all
by saying simply- they just seem to fit best.
(Though, some additional commentary can be found on the lyrics page).
I wanted to create an acoustic-digital hybrid sound where the elements were
given enough space to act out their parts and to come alive upon a sonic stage
uninhibited by time constraints. Storytelling and fantasy, human voice and primal
beat were the initial core concepts or building blocks in the making of this album.
All the song arrangements started in the most rudimentary acoustic form, with just
a beat on the Bodhrán (Celtic frame drum) and a single vocal melody.
Re-interpreting the traditional - striving for innovation
while respecting traditional sources - is another key theme and goal of this recording,
as is sharing original songs inspired by some of the musical, folkloric, and mythological
styles (whether actual or imagined) of Celtic Europe. Over time (much time), the layers
of the song-arranging process gradually increased, and as the soundscapes expanded
the more 'traditional' sounding origins were integrated into the greater terrain- in places
subtly so, in others more pronounced.
Have these targeted themes and goals been effectively
transmitted through this album? Well, that is a mystery to be solved
only through the passing of time and through the feedback I receive from you the listener.
But whether or not I've hit the mark,
at least I've spoken aloud just what I was shooting for in the first place.
As far as how to categorize the music on this album, that is an ongoing
exploration and consideration. Currently, the working descriptive phrase
which seems to fit best is: Celtic-Inspired Folktronica.
This album is experimental and therefore different.
In some respects, it's a bit of a gamble;
it took years and a great deal of energy to create-
and heaven only knows how it will be received.
grand reception or no,
such is the arts, music, and life;
what can we do but pursue our muse?
My simple hope is that the unconventional elements in these songs
and arrangements will serve as an invitation to dream;
a respite from the ordinary. And that both the natural and supernatural
which may pass through this music will inspire the listener –
in little ways or big ways – to move beyond.