Exhausted, but happy!
What a fantastic day! As I wrote last night, I was so nervous going into today. I woke up in good time for a long warm-up and a relaxing morning with Gerald and the puppies. I felt good, and we were on the way in time to be at the studio for noon.
Aaron has a great studio on the upper floor of his house, and that's where we're doing all the vocals. The studio area itself feels very cool and relaxed, but you also have the buzz of family life below, which is just invigorating. Nothing relaxes the voice more than laughing at a baby's smiling face.
We started with Wedding at Cana. This is the song I've been singing the longest, so I figured I'd be most comfortable with it. Aaron's goal was to get 3 great passes at each song, and then punch in any lines or phrases that needed another take. On the first try, I was okay, but a little tense. But as things went along, my confidence increased, and my creativity opened up. Aaron also told me we could come back another day and redo any lines, etc, I didn't like, so that took off the self-imposed-be-perfect pressure too. I really started to enjoy the songs, and I was dancing along as I sang. Very happy we weren't shooting video!
Aaron is cutting on Logic Pro 8 (I think I have that right?), so he could just start cutting right then and there. Within a few minutes of recording that song, we had a version of the vocal. I got so excited! It all sounded so good! I've done a lot of recording where other people were in control, and I was never happy with the way the vocals sounded. I know we can never get a true sense of the sound of our own voices, but most times in the past, when I'd hear my voice recorded, I'd think it sounded thinner, weaker, than I thought it should sound. Well, when I heard the first song yesterday, I was just so impressed. Even in that rough version, I could hear myself coming through - my personality, my emotion, my voice. It just made me feel so good about it all, and I felt very confident going into the next song.
Next, we did Abide With Me. Gerald figured this would be an easy one, but I know it would be tricky. It's a deceptively difficult sing. Long phrases. Finicky, century-old lyric. This one actually took some work. We did some rephrasing, which was admittedly difficult for me at first. After all, I've been singing the song for almost a year. My muscles know when to breathe and when to switch notes. To change all that on the fly was challenging, to say the least. Some verses we actually took line by line. But in the end, it just sounded so beautiful. Very happy with it!
This brought us to the 3 hour mark, which was pretty good timing. Gerald and I took a little break to grab a bite and clear our minds. Gerald was on call the whole day as my objective ears and personal director. He and Aaron actually made a good team in bringing me to the best places musically and emotionally.
The first song after the break was Shepherd of the Hills, a new song by Joel Lindsey and (blanking on the co-writer's name right now). This was the easiest song of the day. Three takes and done. As I was listening to Aaron put together the track, I thought, "This is a song that I would have sung any time.". For those who've known me a long time, you'll understand it when you hear it. I would have chosen this song when I was 16 or 25 or 30-whatever. It's so lyrical and poetic, and I can't wait to hear Monika's harmonies on it.
Things were going so well that we decided to try a 4th song - At The Cross. Although this is in lots of hymnals, it's still a very new song for me. Gerald describes the arrangement as 'folk-jazz', and I'd been practicing it with a smooth, Eva Cassidy-type feel. But as I sang it, Aaron and Gerald both encouraged me to take a stronger, more soulful approach to it. (Ironically, a different Eva Cassidy feel!) This is the only song were weren't able to hear back right away, but I think it's going to sound great.
All in all, what a fantastic day! The more we work on this music, on these songs, the more confident and excited I feel about the whole project.
I'm quite vocally tired tonight. I didn't push it, but since I was so sick a few weeks ago, I just don't have my full endurance yet. We've decided to postpone our second vocal day til next week. That will be cool though. Now that I know how we're approaching things, this just gives me more time to work on the texts and experiment with different sounds.
Oh, and we're going to do something cool with the background vocals. Monika is coming Wednesday for a week, and she's going to do some of the songs. But then, we're going to have all male BGVs on one song, and alto-tenor-bass on another, and girl trio on another, and so on. This mix will give each song a unique feel, and it actually reminds me how Gordon Mote did his last album. (Don't Let Me Miss the Glory - fantastic!). It's the kind of thing that musical people will get, and non-musical people might not catch, but they'll feel the effects.
Yes, exhausted, but happy!