Friends & Listeners,
It’s a strange sensation. I knew early on albums were photographs. Home movies of found footage from and for the wilderness. Quietly offered, hopefully with a time defying dignity. Fields to be discovered and contrasted with the soulful maps, wisdoms, questions, and notes of others. Music is always a collaboration. Song and listener. Musicians and song. Amp and feel. Pencil and quiet.
Concussion was recorded and produced by Richard McLaurin in his home on Idaho Avenue in the early summer of 2001. Direct to 2inch tape. We lived down the street from him then. It was a beautiful and hard and hopeful time. Concussion was my third official album release.
This album is where Lucinda Williams offered her monument of a voice to Devastation. Craig Krampf played his amazing drums and brought many of the songs to warm muscular life. I always remember Clay Steakley, Mack Starks and I digging in with "Pogues-like-abandon" for the gang vocals on my cover of The Clash's Somebody Got Murdered (which was later included on a full-length track by track tribute to Sandinista). Laughing and yelling all three of us in a guest bedroom around one of Richard's amazing mics. Jeff Black's harmonica on Drift (the opening track), hearing that happen, it was pure lightning.
My only thought before recording was: Very little compression, let the levels, words and sounds sort it out. Make it feel like weather, a humid summer in the south in particular. I wanted the music to welcome the ambient noise of living, to collaborate with it, not dominate a room. Tire noise. Traffic. Birds. A conversation. Rain.
Richard did an absolutely masterful job of capturing such a pure and minimalist americana noir.
Richard McLaurin, Clay Steakley, Craig Krampf, David Henry, Ray Kennedy, Mack Starks, Jeff Black and Lucinda Williams. That’s the beautiful gang on these recordings. I'm so grateful always to all of them. Their friendships and their talents. All work is collaborative in music. And that makes it feel like play. Even with songs as "heavy" as these. Joy isn't always trumpets and wild kicks in the air.
Summer 2001, a few months before September. I love these songs. I’m grateful to finally make them available to you again.
I never really know what I’m writing about in the moment. I just follow the river. Stay true. Don’t interfere with what wants to be said. Trust that it will be useful for someone somewhere sometime. I think now these songs were about choices, what happens when we let our darker drivers take the wheel. There’s a lot of death in these songs. Literal and figurative. There’s also a lot of sorrow too. But most of all there’s a want for redemption, a day that breaks with lessons learned and the dark stuff...? Just a passenger. Maybe in the backseat mumbling. Even better in the trunk while you drive to an isolated location to drop ‘em off forever. Somewhere where they can’t even get close to the wheel.
Please give a listen and share. It helps. I always hoped this album would eventually be rediscovered. Making it available again is the first step. You welcoming it is step two. Everything after that is magic.
More to come. You and yours, stay healthy and smart.