The Making of Black & Grey

When I finished recording Live From the inSync Asylum Vol. 1 in the summer of 2020, I had ideas for doing another one – but the pandemic got in the way of my plans.  So as winter set in and my 64th birthday approached, I finally got to work on Vol. 2 in the Fall of 2021. The intent was I would visit songs that I had not sung or performed in many years.  I also chose songs that tended to go to that darker space that a lot of my music resides in.  To me it’s a certain combination of feelings and emotion. Something I can’t explain, but I apparently like to go there.  This collection of songs goes there and pretty much stays. 

Fast forward to now, and I have a ten-track recording that’s pretty special to me.  The album and accompanying YouTube videos are as close as you’re likely to get to a live PK show for the time being.  I envisioned a trio with me on vocals and guitar, a keyboard player also handling the bass, and someone on cajon and percussion. On Black and Grey I stripped the songs down as far as I could and simplified the parts. I got just a basic understanding of the songs on guitar prior to cutting them. For this album, I found myself without my usual guitars and bought a like-new IYV guitar from Amazon warehouse for $132.  I ended up using it on most tracks straight out of the box – just tuned it. Same goes for the acoustic guitar I used – a Yamaha FG830 bought from the Amazon warehouse for $280 that had been returned. Both are nice guitars by-the-way.

The one main thing that contributes to the feel of the album is I did not wear headphones while recording. I had to listen to the studio monitors.  I also did not monitor the electric guitar.  I only heard the electric or the acoustic un-amplified and un-monitored.  So, you can imagine the sound levels had to be relatively quiet to still hear what I’m doing while hearing the studio monitors.  The mood of my having to listen closely to the backing track while singing and playing an un-amplified electric guitar had quite an effect.

I know the acoustic guitars sound boomy as do the vocals, due to the bleed thru from the monitors. But I love the album anyway.  It sounds like right where I am now, even though the songs span decades. Its rough around the edges, but close to how the songs sound in my head – stripped down, simple and quieter.

I’m under no delusions that people are beating my door down for more music.  It’s not happening.  But what I do know is I still want to hear new music and make new recordings. When I hear established artists ask why they should make new music when there’s no money in it – I’m flabbergasted.  Maybe someday I’ll understand….

With Black & Grey complete, I’m planning on starting work on some new songs and the follow up to 2018’s Blue Tattoo. Wish me luck…

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