Sunday, July 18, 2021

JOSö debut album

 I'm really excited to write about this project. Back in January when I first took over Ryan Dahle's old studio in the Song City music studio complex I began working with Johanna Sö. Johanna is a virtuoso violinists, classically trained, graduate of Carnegie Mellon, touring violinist with the West Coast Celtic band The Town Pants and now a singer songwriter.

Back in December of 2020 during the dark winter months of Covid 19 lockdowns and social isolation Johanna approached me about recording some of her music. Initially I thought it would be a violin album with one or two vocal songs. When January rolled around however she showed up at the studio with 6 complete songs and a backpocket full of other ideas. We set out with an intention to record the songs with a central focus on the violin as that was her primary instrument. However those first intentions were not even remotely as encompassing as the final record has proven to be. 

Co-producing this album with me is Duane Keogh. Duane is one half of the core members to The Town Pants. I have worked with Dave and Duane on almost every The Town Pants album they've made since 1997 so Duane and I have a long history and friendship between us. With his help we approached the task of capturing Johanna's ideas. 

I'm extremely proud of the work we've all done on this record. The final scope of the music is so immense and beautiful that it still makes me smile a bit when I listen to certain sections. We took 8 songs and crafted them into 8 unique journeys, all held together around the violin and Johanna's voice but each branching out with their own melodic intentions. From the more direct approach to songs like These Scares or You're Lovable, to the quirky jazzlike Purple Piano and ending with the epic 7 minute Breathe we covered a lot of ground sonically. Throughout, the playing is superb: with shout outs to the brilliant drumming of Terence F Clark and the outstanding basswork from Hugh McMillan, the vibrant cello of Cara Fox all complimenting Johanna's violin work. It would be an understatement to say the musical results are some of the best music I've ever recorded. 

In the following weeks I would like to go into some detail surrounding this music, digging into the multitrack to expose some of the lush layers we created with vocals and violin stacks. There are countless exceptional auditory segments that still surprise me when I solo them up in a mix. The writing and playing on this album are great and deserve to be written about in detail! 

More to come!

Thanks for reading. 

Mark