After a long time away from playing, writing and performing music, a dear friend let me take care of her piano. We moved it down from the Bay Area in Northern California to our house in Los Angeles, where I stayed with it for many, many, many hours, day affect day. It was the most enriching experience. All the music just poured through me, and it felt like coming home. For most of my life. I had played the guitar, sung. I had always gravitated towards piano, but had never owned one, and - as much as I loved it - discounted it, as I "only knew how to improvise", not play any actual songs.
With this new guest, I practiced scales, chords, learn to read music (again), started to write songs and then remembered the improvisation thing where I would just play whatever came in the moment, without judging, without stopping. It was a beautiful, magical experience, and I began to think "Wow, I'd love to share this."
A couple of years later, I finally plucked up the courage to test out my dream and booked a studio in England. I had looked all over for a studio overlooking the ocean. I finally found the perfect one in Norway, with nothing around it but barren rock and the North Sea beyond. That one didn't work out (although I plan to go there one day). Instead, I found a wonderful place on the Sussex Downs in the ancient village of Ovingdean, less than a mile from the beach.
I booked and it, and one beautiful April morning, I recorded the album Ovingdean. The entire album was recorded that morning with no overdubs or re-takes. It was an amazing, exhilarating experience. (When I started recording, the studio engineer, Ben, asked me if I wanted a click-track (an audible guide to keep you in time), I yelled "No!". And after the first track, he asked if I wanted to listen back to it, again I yelled "No!" I didn't want come out of the zone. I think Ben thought I was kind of nuts. Ovingdean is the name of the village where the studio is located.
I took the recordings to Chris Steffen, a wonderful studio engineer in Hollywood to mix the album, listened over and over again to get it to sound how I thought it should sound, sent it out for mastering, got my pictures taken, had my friend and colleague design the album cover for me, got the sleeves printed up and the CD's made and packaged up, and set it about sending it out to my friends.
One of my main aims was to get the completed album to mum in Wales while she was still on the planet. She'd been living with the effects cancer for a long time and while still the sparky, intelligent human I knew her to be, had got to a point where she was growing tired of it all.
I numbered each of the CD's by hand - hers was number 1. I packaged it all up and sent it special delivery to make sure she got it for her birthday.
Sadly, I found out later, my mum had passed away before she had a chance to listen. But she had received it, so at least that, she had seen it, read my accompanying letter. What I also found out later, was the release date I set for the album turned out to be the day she passed away, onto another plane.
So, somehow, it felt - it feels - even though we were thousands of miles apart when she died - my mum and I were, are - connected through this journey and through this music.
I have received some wonderful feedback from people about this music and wanted to share a little of my experience. Thank you for reading and thank you for listening!