I hope you had a safe and happy new year.  I'm nearing completion on the next record which is tentatively titled Strings Attached.  The songs were all written on acoustic guitar and have a much more organic feel than any of my solo records.  Some of the songs have been around for a while and were simply waiting for a home, whereas a number of the songs are brand spanking new. 

Perhaps the biggest challenge in making this record is figuring out which songs to keep and which to toss back in the stockpile.  I keep hearing the album format is dying and people only listen to individual songs which they place in their playlist or whatever.  That's fine except I do love the album format, having grown up with it.  I love when artists place songs together which are related to each other in some sort of fashion and make an artistic statement collectively above and beyond the individual songs on their own.  I enjoy the dynamics of an interesting song order and taking a journey plotted in advance and scouted out by the artist him/herself for the enjoyment of the audience.  I try to do that with my records.  I hope that the folks who listen to my music enjoy taking that journey and maybe even notice the little threads that adhere the songs to each other.  

And it's completely fine if people want to create their own playlists.  It's their ears and their time.  Why suffer through songs you don't like when you can put all your favs in one place or program a group of songs to match or create a certain mood.  Be your own DJ.  There is nothing wrong with that. 

But some albums are very much worth listening to in sequence and some songs make far more sense and have more power in an album context.  Sargent Pepper, for example, contains brilliant songs which very much stand on their own.  But they pack an extra punch in proper sequence and context. 

Some albums, namely concept albums, can magnify the context effect.  The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, the last Genesis record with Peter Gabriel and easily one of the greatest records ever, is an excellent example of using context and dynamics to enhance the emotional impact of the songs.   

Anyway, the new record is definitely not a concept album, but there are some lyrical threads that run through the songs.  For example, the songs delve more into interpersonal relationship and intimacy topics way more than usual for a Wishnefsky record.  The context of the relationships I describe does resemble the more typical Wishnefsky fare.  For example, one of the songs concerns a young revolutionary minded person who joins the occupy movement only to find himself occupied with thoughts of his lover who he left to run off with a mob of protesters. 

I think I have the cover.  My step-father Ed Nahin is a renowned, award winning photographer.  He has graciously allowed me to use his photos on many of my records.  Ed and my mom live in a beautiful house in the Eastern Sierras.  They have this incredible living room which has a creek pumped into in it.  I call the room the Bat Cave because of the high ceiling and relatively dark decor.  My parents are nice enough to let me set up my studio in the room whenever I go up there.  It's a large room and I set up in the section of the room that serves as a dining room.  It is next to a sliding glass door with a view of the Sierras.   It's incredibly beautiful.  I have written and recorded a lot of my best songs in that room.  Much of the new album was recorded there.  i could probably stay in the Bat Cave for months at a time if they would let me.

I digress.  My wife, daughters, and I were up there the week of new years day.  My family is always kind enough to allow me the time and freedom to indulge in my pathological music obsession.  They know it makes me happy and sane.  

While we were there, I asked Ed if he had a photo that I could use for the cover of the new record.  We spent a long time going through a lot of his photos.  Ed does a lot of nature and wildlife photography.  All of his work is gorgeous and amazing.  Most of it, however, doesn't necessarily fit the darker tone of my music.  We actually struck out the first session we spent searching his photos.  I woke up the next morning and as soon as I emerged out of my bedroom, Ed grabbed me and said my mom came up with a brilliant idea and he had worked on it.  He showed me various versions of a photo of a vulture perched on a branch and extending one of his wings.  Ominous clouds form the background.  It's a brilliant photo in its original form, but Ed tried various manipulations in photoshop and other editing apps.  I haven't decided which specific version I like best, but it's pretty much a lock I will use the vulture photo.

The funny thing is that one of the songs on the record has some lines that could be the caption for the photo and I didn't even realize this until a few days after Ed gave me the photo.  The song is called (I think - my song titles like to change) Wrap Yourself.  The lines go:

"Fear buzzes by me with shimmering wings - And a strange bird above me starts to sing"      

Well, I hope to have new songs ready for you in the near future.  I'm curious to see how people respond.  Don't be fooled by the vulture and dark references.  The album has a warmth to it and I'm very proud of the songs.  Some of them are pretty stripped down with acoustic guitar and vocal and not much else.  The songs with more instrumentation have less information than the usual Wishnefsky stuff.  There is very little synth.  It's basically a furry aural blanket that you can wrap around your ears to heat up your shivering spirit.

Stay warm.  It's pretty cold out there. 

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