Introducing: Softly Loudly

Why not listen instead? I’m no stranger to recording words but I’m new to podcasting about myself. It’s weird. I’ll get better at it! (DISCLAIMER: contains musical sneak preview)

It’s my great pleasure to introduce to you, this year’s labour of my musical love…..

s o f t l y . l o u d l y

……an album slow releasing from New Year’s Day 2021.

It’s a collection of songs written over the past 5 years, combining honest lyrics, luscious vocal harmonies, shimmering piano, virtuosic bass, inventive percussion and evocative soundscape, with hints of jazz, contemporary folk, soul and blues. You never quite know whether it will translate in the way you intended. That’s the magic (and the terror ) of this stage!

After so much solo recording and performance, fleshing out the song arrangements with harmonies, bass and percussion has been an absolute tonic! Debbie Harris and Neil Hooton have provided beautiful and rock solid support in the vocal and percussion departments in such generous and caring ways. And Adam Nabarro-Steel agreed to play bass on my songs, something that has surprisingly never happened until now – and I’m so glad he did! After performing live together in 2019, recording was planned for 2020. But we never expected the forever shape-shifting social distancing parameters that would hamper, or should I say shape our recording efforts.

None of the songs are about lockdown – they were written way before, but it’s definitely there. The recording process was turned on it’s head. Some of the drums were recorded remotely and had to be woven in. Daily permitted exercise was often dropping-off or picking up microphones or transferring files. Or walking through a field with a 2 metre head phone splitter trying to discuss takes. I think the time constraints focussed our minds. I had to know exactly what I wanted from every session, because we never knew when the next one would be allowed. There were a few precious moments spent all together, which we mostly squandered on boozy al fresco lunches. (No regrets!) So hats’s off to anyone who has attempt to record in lockdown, or any arts project that requires collaboration.

I found it suprisingly easy to detach from the songs and be objective, distracted by the challenging circumstances. I allowed the ‘process’ to infiltrate them – the influence of the other musicians, the sounds and happenings around me during lockdown. Now that I’m getting ready to present the songs to the world, I’m getting reacquainted with the point of them, only to realise it really is about the process. Even after they are recorded, songs are a never ending story and the next chapter of the story begins with you! I’m hoping to write about, and perhaps record a podcast to accompany each song as they release, so if you think that may be something you’d listen it, please let me know. (And hold me to it!).

On the subject of release, the first track ‘Soul Reserve’ is available on all platforms from 1/1/2021, followed by a song every Friday until the full album on 19th Feb. There was nothing conventional about recording ‘Softly Loudly’ so why be conventional about releasing it? I feel it’s gong to be a slow and drawn-out start to the year. A bleak midwinter. Each song has its own beautiful artwork, details from a larger piece by my eldest daughter Mia Nabarro-Steel. There is no physical album to hold, but the tactile ‘real’ quality in the watercolour brush strokes and the texture of the paper, is the perfect complement to a ‘digital’ album. There is certainly a tactile and ‘real’ textured quality to the music too and I dearly hope you will embrace it.

Softly Loudly can now be pre-ordered here to directly support the album, as well as pre save in your streaming service. Looking forward to singing to you on New Year’s Day! X

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