Dan Hartland, 2013

thewhaleIt isn’t often that I mention my own music here – that tends to happen over there – but the lump in my head that passes for a mind has been primarily busied with songs and arrangements for a few weeks now. In lieu of all other content, then, here begins a braindump in this rarefied space.

It’s been almost five years since I last recorded any songs to a decent standard, which by any definition is a significant hiatus. Primarily, this has been a consequence of a period of flux which began when Dan Todd, my long-term collaborator and master cellist, moved to Bristol just as we’d developed (in 2009) a fresh, strings-based concept for a third EP. Then, of course, I followed suit and moved to Cheltenham – which, for a musician rooted in a particular local network, is quite the change.

Huzzah, then, for Mr Todd’s continuing enthusiasm for that vintage concept of 2009, which following much cajoling I’ve spruced up, expanded and edited into an 11-track album. Furthermore, Amit Dattani of the very fine blues combo Mellow Peaches heard a couple of the new tunes and demanded more; and the excellent releases of the alt.country flirt hero of my adopted town, Andy Oliveri, were inspiring in and of themselves. All this added up to a new momentum (which shook another couple of new songs out of the tree) … and – at last, gentle reader – a return to the studio.

There was some debate about precisely which studio we should return to, but ultimately it was a fairly perfunctory debate – attention to detail can be a rare commodity in the grassroots studio market, and Ben at Birmingham’s Blue Whale has it in droves. Some musicians like to work with different producers or equipment on each record – but this will be my third recording at the Whale, and that’s a vote of confidence for the studio and its maestro, rather than an opting for the easy life by me.

To wit, the first session for the new record – which will be a full band affair whilst still featuring Mr Todd’s duelling cellos – was held last week. It’s very early days, but the second session will take place this coming Friday … and it’s rather good to be talking about my own music again.

More anon, no doubt.

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