Co-Writing Crossroads

Songwriting has always been a very personal and sacred process for me. Maybe not every writer feels this way, as I know there are those who write from formula and churn out songs methodically. To me, writing songs is equal parts craft and mystery. I often feel lost in the space between songs. Without fail my mind will try and convince me I have penned my last piece and the muse has gone on without me. Could be just another manifestation of my abandonment issues. Who knows.

There have been several crossroads in my career as a writer. Moments when I knew I wanted something different from my creative output, and I went looking for a way to change it up: When my first band, Built Like Lizzie, fell apart (as bands are apt to do) and I traded my electric guitar for acoustic solo performing; when I began experimenting with alternate tunings, which opened up a new world in my writing; and when I picked up the mountain dulcimer for the first time, looking for new timbres to sing and write over. All of these crossroads changed my writing for the better.

About three and a half years ago, I approached my dear friend and keyboard player Daniel Walker and asked if he would ever consider co-writing with me. He hemmed and hawed a good bit about how unfit he was for the task. His identity is as a sideman, not a writer. He was comfortable in that skin. We had performed together many times, and shared a deep mutual respect for one another's crafts. I'm not sure how I managed it (odds are strong it was the free beer I offered), but somehow I coaxed him into a session to help me try and finish a fragment of a song I had started on piano about 7 years prior, called Salt.

(We finished that one, which you can listen to here: )

I have not done a lot of co-writing in my life. I've dabbled here and there, but because of my perfectionist tendencies, I was never sure if it was the method for me. But when I write with Dan, it feels really natural and safe. And although to this day he might not admit to having any, our musical strengths seem to compliment each other.

Fast forward a few years, and we somehow managed to write a whole record. It will be my first record of entirely piano-based songs. I love being able to just sing, and to explore the places in my voice that singing over piano creates space for. After standing behind a guitar for 23 years, this feels like a serious luxury! Getting the opportunity to stretch out as a vocalist and focus on that part of my artistry alone has reminded me that this has always been who I am. I love the simplicity of it.

I've got some big happenings coming in the next week, and I can't wait to share them with you. If you're not on my mailing list, hop on over and join so you don't miss a thing!

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