Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Making of the Raven's Wing. Kim Erickson talks about creating a CD.

Kim Erickson .

On Saturday, June 13th at 7:30pm in the Unitarian Hall, I will be unveiling my newest cd release, 'The Raven's Wing'.  There will be an opportunity to listen to the project, hear a few words about the songs and the album, and buy a copy to take home. And while you are there, you can support two worthy causes if you like - Stoves for Humla, Nepal and The Underground Gym.  Admission to the event is free and all are welcome. 

This will be my first launch activity for the project, and the first Canadian launch event.  'The Raven's Wing' was already released in the EU on May 11th by my record label for this album, Route 61 Music, who are based in Rome, Italy.  Route 61 will work with me and for me to distribute the cd worldwide.  The project has its wings. 

'The Raven's Wing' is a previously unpublished collection of my own songs - with the exception of Pete Seeger's setting of Ariel's Song from The Tempest, "Full Fathom Five".  A couple of the songs are traditional folk lyrics that I gave fresh musical settings to.  There is a decidedly cohesive flavour to the songs and their treatment in the studio.  And the songs take the listener on a journey of "10,000 Miles", across oceans and landscapes, and into the deep interior of the human heart.  The album is a nod to my mother's North Sea Scottish roots, and is a taking stock and a looking forward to "the time the will come to be."  And that brings me to one of my greatest joys, which is the addition of a backing vocal on one song by my daughters Roisin and Lesya Roberts.

The title of the album comes from the song that I consider the centrepiece of the album, and the song that I recall writing first in this collection, "Dark Is The Raven's Wing".  It has an old world feel, and tells the tale of an encounter with a beloved as dark and bright as a raven's wing, against the backdrop of an "autumn garden" and a far off hilltop.  This song, along with four others, was given extraordinary arrangements for violin, cello and double bass by former TBSO Principal Bass Joe Phillips, who also played on every track on the album. 

I had once thought that the sound I needed for this project could only be attained by a full orchestra.  But the three players assembled with me in the studio - Drew Jurecka, Amy Laing and Joe himself - played so true while I sang and and performed the piano "live", and we were caught so well by engineer John Bailey and producer Danny Greenspoon at The DriveShed studio in Toronto, that one can scarcely believe the deep, rich, full sound was produced by only this small group of players.  We recorded all ten songs in a miraculous three days, and then spent one day on a handful of overdubs that included Damon Dowbak's evocative mandocello.  At long last the songs had been captured - and captured exactly as I had imagined and hoped.

If all that sounds like a neatly wrapped up happy ending, there is much more to the story, as there is always much more behind every work of meaning.  I spent years writing and composing the songs, living some of them, and played with them in various settings (including the TBSO, my trio Canto, the dance-theatre collective Broken Moons, and my Angelic Upstart Ensemble).  

I was dreaming of the kind of sound and the type of high quality project I wanted to attain at this point in my career and in my life, but often felt that what I wanted was out of reach.  There was a major fundraising campaign undertaken and I brainstormed pre production ideas with Lauri Conger and consulted with Ian Tamblyn.  I negotiated and signed a deal with a European record label, and finally the impossible project became possible.        

I am a mature artist and my voice gives witness to that fact, celebrates that fact.  So while I  struggled a bit with whether or not my time had passed, I knew in my heart that the quality of my work had never been better.  This was a project that could never have come from the younger me.  

There were many delays, ranging from my own procrastinations, to the illness of a key player, to scheduling difficulties and sudden changes of personnel.  Trickster Raven hovered nearby, presenting challenges.  I delivered the mixed and mastered final result to Route 61 Music....went on vacation to Cuba....and fractured my shoulder in a bad fall there!  My piano arm is coming back, though at a measured pace, and there will be concerts again in the not so far off future.  In the meantime, I am busy making further plans for this old soul of a new baby...and for the next baby....

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