Friday, November 13, 2009

Reviews:: Daniel, Fred & Julie

Originally I planned on writing an opus about this record. I was going to try to connect you to the record through my eyes and ears, talking about how the first listen it hit me like no other record this year. Praise the trio for following through on a premise so simple, so pure that you can't help but fall in love with the results.

I mean, three successful, talented song writers revisiting timeless tracks that have been passed down from generation to generation (minus the two originals), recording in a garage with shitty gear in just a few days. The harmonies weren't overdubbed or tweaked, and that's why they sound so real and so honest. Every flaw tells a hundred stories that are normally lost in the remastering and mixing and slowly suck the soul out of a record. Daniel, Fred & Julie is the type of project a blog should get behind; one based on the love of music, singing with the people you love and nothing else.

Admittedly, most of these songs would sound good no matter who arranged or recorded them - that's the beauty of folk music - but when the fingers and tongues of these three Canadian talents get a hold of the material, it takes new life and becomes magical. More importantly, the songs start to speak for themselves - more eloquently than the pen of a critic or in this case, a rabid fan. Undoubtedly, you benefit more from hearing about the origins of the tracks and how they ended up in the form they will forever be documented. So, here's a track by track breakdown courtesy of Daniel Romano.

Oh, an exclusive MP3 to whet your whistle. Enjoy what is undoubtedly, my favorite record of the year.
In July, I called Fred. I said, "hey Fred I have an idea... Let's make a record. I found a bunch of songs and I wrote a couple." He was into the idea. I was away at the time. When I got back, I took a couple books and some guitars and got on the Via train from Montreal to Sackville. It was the over night train. I had a great meal. Worked on some arrangements. Slept like a baby.

I got to Sackville at around noon. I walked from the train station into town. I went to my friend Steve Lambke's house. He lived above Strutt's art gallery at the time. He wasn't there. His Girlfriend Penelope got home soon after I got there, so I hung out with her. Fred and Julie were away playing in Newfoundland. They flew in around three. Fred's Folks were in town, so they picked them up from the bus station and then came by Strutt's and picked me up. We went to the Irving Big Stop for diner. Julie had vegetables. I had a burgie. Fred had a hot turkey sandwich. We went back to Fred's house and spent some time in the garage listening to records. We shared a bunk bed in the spare room where Julie's kids stay when they are there. Fred's folks were in the master bed.

We got up early-ish. Made some coffee and had at it. We moved the quarter inch four track recorder into the garage and tried out multiple microphones. We decided to record it mono with a shitty Audio Technica microphone that, I think, comes with a set of headphones. And once we found our spots we started learning songs. Julie was with us the whole time and she asked if she could sing with us. We said yes.

The Gambler And His Bride is one of many variations on the Frankie and Albert, or Frankie and Johnny story. There were a few of them in the book. We chose the most modern english sounding of the bunch. I wrote the Music for that song while I was at Steve's house the day before. We got rid of a few verses so that it wouldn't be such a bruiser. We ended up getting rid of the verse where Frankie actually kills Albert. That was a mistake. We only realized that after It was recorded.

The next song is Runner. I originally wrote that for City and Color to use. But I don't know if he liked it.. and I guess it doesn't really suit him. I don't know, maybe he'll use it. Probably not, though. So anyway, I decided to use it because it seemed to fit. But I didn't want to sing the lead. So I taught it to Fred. He did a great job. I love his voice. I wish my voice was as perfect as his. That was the first completely fictional song I ever wrote.

I dream of Jeanie... I remember when I was a kid watching a bugs bunny cartoon where Bugs Bunny says, " I am the Genie with light brown hair." He was pretending to be a genie. When I was sifting through the book of folk songs and I saw that, I knew that I had to do it just out of principle. That song was arranged in Montreal before I left as well.

No One Knew My Name was another one arranged in Montreal, from the same book. I liked the story and it was one of the only short ones in the book. Classic story of woman bails man out from the gallows. I hope I can find a woman like that some day. I'm sure I'll need it.

Hallelujah I'm A Bum was arranged in Fred's garage. Fred started playing this finger picking piece he had written a long time ago. I wrote a part to go with it and Julie found the song. She thought it was charming. I found it familiar. I later found out that my grandfather used to play a version of it all the time.

Down By The Weeping Willow was arranged prior And I had been singing the lead line. But much like Runner, I liked the words and the melody so much that I just needed to have Fred sing it so that I would actually be completely satisfied with the finished product. He, once again, did an amazing job.

Bonny Black Bess had a few lives. I was working out a melody for it while Fred and Julie were inside making more coffee. I was jacked on sour candy at the time. It was a very minor progression. Fred came out, sat down, picked up his guitar and I played him what I had been working on. He liked it. But then immediately started playing something else that was much better. He said, "this song is about the best horse in the world. It should be triumphant." I agreed.

Clementine was recorded while Julie was out with the kids at the pool. Fred and I had been talking about how strange of a song it was. So we looked through the books and found it. It was the only song we actually knew the melody to. We tried a take of it. It was okay. Fred then said, "we gotta get Del!" I asked who Del was. He told me about the legend that is Del Wheaton. He is in the New Brunswick Blue Grass hall of fame for playing the bass. He took up playing the fiddle at fifty years old. We rode some bikes up to his house just around the block. We knocked on the door but there was no answer. Fred then realized it was Thursday and there was a concert in the park downtown. We rode down there and ran into his son Darin. He told us that he was just around the corner. Del, at first, didn't recognize Fred because he wasn't wearing his glasses and his hair was grown out, but once he figured out who he was he was into the idea we had proposed. We rode back up to the house and Del met us there in his truck. We sat around the mic and tried a couple passes. Del insisted that we have some Blue Grass style structure. So we chose who would play on which verse. Fred played guitar and sang lead. I played the slide and did my best at back ups. Del is a great man.

Your Love was another one of those songs I had written with City and Color in mind. I decided to use it. That song is the second completely fictional song I ever wrote.

Johnny Sands was the the last song we did. Fred found it and fell in love with the story. He started picking a line while still reading it. He and Julie worked out a harmony for it and I worked out a ridiculous guitar part. Once the record was tracked, we dumped the whole thing down to cassette tape. The tape machine was broken at first. Fred opened it up and moved a bunch of its guts around and got it working in minutes. It was pretty amazing. Steve came over and gave a listen to the songs. I think he liked them. I was super jacked on candy at the time, to the point that I was having trouble seeing. I'm pretty sure he liked it. We had a gig on the last night I was there. It was offered to us a few days earlier. I was going to play drums. We got there that night and Jessie Baird was there. I knew at that point I wasn't going to be playing drums. So bass was my fall back. I borrowed a bass. It had five strings. I borrowed a cable. It was a speaker cable. It sounded horrible. It was a lot of fun. When I got home I took the Tape to Dan Weston. He did a quick master of the record and then it was sent to a pressing plant in Germany. They cut it on a mono lathe. We had Fred's mother take some pictures of us in a field across the street from Fred's house. I had them developed when I got back home. That's the shot I ended up using for the cover of the record. Julie was snapping some pictures too. I used one of hers for the back. I love those guys.

MP3:: Daniel, Fred & Julie - Clementine

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Posted at 8:32 AM by ack :: 6 comments

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At 9:54 AM, Anonymous orange did sayeth:

man i'm near to tears...i can't wait to hear the full record - this is soooo beautiful. and your post is just awesome. thank you!


At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Colin did sayeth:

epic post!


At 12:36 PM, Anonymous Lee did sayeth:




At 9:10 PM, Anonymous Grant did sayeth:

I've been listening to this record constantly since I came across it at the MTA radio station yesterday (CHMA). Good god it's amazing. Thanks for posting the Sackville stories. I was here this past summer - if I had only known what was going on in a garage down the road!


At 8:23 AM, Blogger Tualla did sayeth:

Hello Herohill!

Love the Blog and only wish I could keep up with the posts.

Which brings me to the following question. Could you re-up the Mp3 of 'Clementine' . Off to try to buy this later no today, but not sure if I'm going to be successful and I"M IN LOVE WITH THE MYSPACE STREAMS! LOVE.

Thanks, Tualla at Gmail.


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