Letters and Drinks
This morning, I released a full-length album follow-up to my debut full-length album titled 'Kairos' which was released in 2015. This third studio album project is called 'Letters and Drinks' and each song centers on the universal concepts of love and suffering but in a raw, unique, and authentic way. With love, it's not always rainbows and butterflies or a cliche Hollywood, romantic comedy. It's a lot of work and requires a willingness to commit to each other daily and attempt to be selfless. With suffering, there is an honesty and authenticity in the struggle. Sometimes, when going through pain, nothing helps but time and even then, you aren't quite the same. I even took a couple opportunities to be transparent sharing about a personal experience losing a close friend to suicide and even sharing about my own struggles with depression and suicide. I wanted to express acknowledgement that not everything has to be perfect. There is more to a person's journey than meets the eye, but there is much beauty to be found even in the struggle and the pain. In terms of musicality, the album is diverse in nature, due to the variety of musical influences I have. You'll find everything from Pop to Rock to R&B to Folk to even Country/Blues. I'll take you through the album and share a little bit about each song in my own words:
1. Dance With Me
This upbeat love song is centered around one of my life mantras. Whether platonically or romantically, I feel that it is important to strive to leave someone you meet in a better place than you found them. Fun fact: The working title for this song was "Better Than I Found." It was a fun songwriting exercise to incorporate visual imagery into the lyrics.
2. Gonna Be Honest
As I've traveled the world over the past few years, a common topic of conversation with people tends to be wondering what could have been with someone in their past and if they had made a different decision or if the timing was different. I wanted to write an honest song that came from my past perspectives and experiences. I think one trick in life is not to dwell on something incessantly. I'm a firm believer that if it's meant to happen, it'll happen. And if it doesn't, well...
By intentionally melding rich layers of sound, this track refocuses on the hope found in the multi-dimensional element of love. Vulnerability creates a fertile soil in which deeper relationships can take root. This authentic environment is vital to loving someone but cultivating this climate requires us to embrace our fear. It's okay to acknowledge that we are imperfect, so long as we trust the process that results from being vulnerable. By committing to love, we come to find that we don't love someone in spite of their imperfections, but because of them. The track is comprised of hundreds of layers of live instrumentation and voices including a full orchestra, instruments, claps, snaps, and vocal harmonies.
4. Wild Child
On the surface, this playful and vivid assortment of sounds presents a breeze of casualness. However, nestled underneath is a collection of deeper philosophical thoughts on existence and our unending quest for belonging. The song animates the question, "is what you're running after what you already have?"
Growing up, my friends and I would make a wish on the rare occasions that we caught the clock at 11:11. There is an element of love that is driven by the same optimism as when making a wish. This warm, resonating ballad invites you to think of --- maybe even wish for--- someone you love. There is a creative lyric video on YouTube for this track and I think you'll appreciate how the lyrics are presented visually.
6. Six Feet Above
Right in the middle of the album is a song where I wrestle with a very personal and heavy topic. I lost a dear friend who died by suicide last year, and what followed was a very tough season of my life that I quietly went through. I carefully crafted a song bringing forth honest thoughts and raw emotions. In struggling with such a topic, I was overcome with many different emotions ranging from sadness and despair to anger, hopelessness, and regret. I know that the topic of depression and suicide is an important one to bring light to, and it is my hope that this song can bring encouragement.
7. Whiskey Song
Simple acoustic guitar and a simple raw vocal makes up this track. After covering a popular Chris Stapleton song called Tennessee Whiskey a few months ago, I decided that I would include this song that I wrote a while back. I've always loved country music for its honest songwriting, and simple melodies. Fun Fact: I wrote this entire song while enjoying a dram of my favorite whiskey.
8. Father's Land
I wrote this personal folk song for my stepfather, a grass farmer, who entered my life during my teen years and whom I now consider my real father. I have always wanted to pay homage to a family member through my songwriting. Here is a more in-depth story about the song.
9. Heart Smiles
With this particular song, I wanted to combine contemporary elements with a throwback, Motown sound. Hoping that this song brings you heart smiles.
10. Hello Love
I was so grateful to be able to incorporate such talented live musicians on my album. Every orchestral musician and live brass brought my songs to a whole other level. This song especially highlighted the brass players on my album.
11. Book in the Cloud
With this song, I wanted to touch upon the disconnect that exists even in a "more connected world." Much like an old Peter, Paul, & Mary folk song, I wanted to focus the musicality around tight harmonies building up to a harmonious bridge of sound that transported your head above clouds. The title takes a shot at Facebook (and online presence in general) while presenting the fickle ways in which we cultivate community and relationships.
12. One Last Light
The final track on this album somberly addresses my own struggles with depression and suicide. In being transparent, this song initially was an actual "farewell letter" I had written one night on the brink of giving up. And though I made it through that particular night, I ended up returning to the letter time and time again on many tear-filled occasions. I imagine that many others out there have felt similar emotions. Midway through the song, there is a transition in the tone and feel of the song. There is a hopefulness that can be found in the darkness when you focus on the things you believed in light. I felt that this song was a fitting way to end this album.