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Well, who would have thought? Another “lockdown” album from Jimmy The Dog!
I suppose a couple of things prompted the making of this album after finishing Rattlesnake Love back in June 2020; firstly, it’s fair to say that nobody had guessed that the COVID lockdown would have lasted - with a couple of short breaks - for over a year. Secondly, it had occurred to me that I had a catalogue of “singer-songwriter” songs going back to 2003 which hadn’t made it on to an album, for one reason or another.
One such track was “Part Of Me” which I wrote - or should I say rewrote - back in 2009 and recorded in 2010 on, of all things, Garageband on a Mac Book Pro. I remember I was in a quiet room in Belfast and had this laptop, a budget Cort acoustic guitar, an Apogee One USB interface with in-built quality mic with me at the time. That was it. I used the Apple upright bass sounds and Apple drum and percussion midi samples (except for multi-tracked guitar and voice, obviously). I remember thinking how the result had exceeded my expectations and I thought after the release of Rattlesnake Love that I should get some old songs together and record or re-record them.
I played the old recordings of songs like “Part Of Me”, “Summer Sunshine”, “Bombardier’s Moon” and some more that I liked. I also had recorded four years ago a track called “The Odd Mad Shallow Man” which wasn’t easily classifiable, but was kind of folk-based. This contributed to the notion that making an acoustic album might work, revamping the old songs with new, fresh arrangements, although I wasn’t sure I wanted to make real “folk” recordings.
So I made the decision that all guitars (except for bass) would be “real-mic’d” acoustic 6- and 12- string - none of the electric guitars which were the basis for my last offering, "Rattlesnake Love" - and I’d try to make the sounds as organic as possible. I’d try to make simpler arrangements. I’d make some changes. Even the title of one song was changed from “Barometer” to “Weather Vane”, but the melody and lyrics remain the same. I’d make an EP. But of course, I got some more ideas and put them down and ended up with another album - I can’t help myself! So, I added brand new tracks Citrus & Vine, Run, Giddy Up and That's What Heaven Is To Me.
I also reached out to a few musicians who had decent home studios and could contribute to a track or two by dumping their .wav files into Dropbox. I chose the excellent Chris Haight, fiddle-player extraordinaire after an internet search for a professional who could supply that Gypsy feel on Citrus & Vine. He’s toured and played on recordings with some seriously major people. Twenty-four hours later I had four different versions of his improvisations which I cut up and incorporated into the track, swapping off with my keyboard solos.
And I in the end decided to have the original recording of Part Of Me on the album, the original inspiration for the project. And other than playing live on stage, there’s nothing I like doing better than recording! Thanks be to The Almighty for the time given me to make this offering.
Here's the track list with the dates of the original recordings. For this album all tracks, except for Part Of Me, were recorded between September 2020 and April 2021;
1. Twister (2005)
2. Toodle-Oo (2021)
3. Citrus and Vine (2020)
4. Part of Me (2008) (2010 recording included in album)
5. Skimming Stones (Down By The River) (2005)
6. Summer Sunshine (2007)
7. Bombardier’s Moon (2006)
8. That’s What Heaven Is To Me (2021)
9. Pick Me Up (2009)
10. Weather Vane (Summer Rain) (2004) (formerly titled “Barometer”)
11. Run (2021)
12. Giddy Up (2021)
13. The Odd Mad Shallow Man (2016)