Without A Trace

June 22, 2014 1:12 PM

Recorded about 9 months ago after a fairly lengthy gestation (pun intended) musically, lyrically and production-wise this one set a new benchmark for me. I know I'm going to struggle to match it and stuff I've done since has been a bit....lacking. Shrugs. Alternative title: "Countries Of The Heart".

I never said it anyway.
It’s really not for me to pass judgement.
So I was quick to look the other way,
Studying the cracks in the pavement.

Never knowing any action would lead us here, to this.
Never knowing our reaction would drive her on to this.

Is there any way out of here?

In and out of everywhere
Up and down every stairwell, in gateways.
Did she ever even turn a hair?
Ever try to question their strange ways?

Never knowing any action would lead us here, to this?
Never knowing our reaction would drive her on to this?

Is there any way out of here?

A nightmare.
Too much to bear.
Why do you stare?
Why do you stare?

Is there any way out of here?

lyric, music, sound recording p & c david main 2013.

posted by Josh Rogan (6 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

This has a kind of nice jazz-like feel to it at first and then gets a bit like Mama and the Papa's kind of feel on the chorus and then goes a little Morrisey on the bridge ("A nightmare..."). Nice double vocals on the chorus. I love the stand up (or is it just acoustic?) bass!

I like the chilled vibe of the piece overall.
posted by cicadaverse at 5:55 AM on June 23, 2014

Hey, David (I'm gonna call you that because all of your aliases make my head spin) this is fantastic. Your guitar playing and songwriting really collide here in an exceptional way. What I like best about it is that I have *absolutely no idea* what you are doing or what chords and harmonies you are playing. Most times I can listen to a track and basically play a dumb version of it straight off, but I have no chance here. The melodic line threads it all together but in such an intricate way I can't make head nor tail of it. Your open chords are amazing, whiffs of Miles and Steely Dan, but never enough for me to know what's gonna happen next.

My only observation -- and it's not a criticism -- is that the subject matter remains opaque. I'm not really sure what's going on or what the situation is. Maybe that's deliberate but it puts a layer between me and the emotional story that I can't quite get across. Maybe it's the combination of the musical complexity and the obliqueness of the lyric, but it never quite gets me in the gut. But it remains compelling despite (or because of?) that.

Also, the production is fantastic. I love what you've done with the drums, which I know was something you've worked hard on. But the guitar sounds are amazing, both acoustic and electric. I have no idea how you get them so pristine. I can't get anything close to that without going to an amp sim which I'm sure you don't do.

One final shout out to the vocal rhythms at the beginning. That was a brave thing to do but it really works.
posted by Sportswriters at 9:15 PM on June 23, 2014

You don't know how much of a relief it is to me to hear that someone else "gets it" with this one. The response elsewhere has left me wondering whether I should give up music altogether. So - a heartfelt thanks guys.

The lyric is deliberately allusive and opaque. One of my favourite writers - the late John McGahern (I think I've mentioned him before) - said "nearly all good writing is suggestion and all bad writing is statement". That's profoundly insightful and I've really taken it to heart. Perhaps I've not quite got there yet, but that's the direction of travel. But to climb down from my ivory tower for a moment (!) - this is about someone who has gone missing, a nice kid gone astray perhaps, and a bewildered and frightened parent's perspective on that.

You know better, John, than to ask me about the technicalities of the chords etc in this. No idea what I'm playing. No amp sims though or fx other than reverb and the whammy bar. A strat through my SuperChamp. And my D28 recorded with a AKG C414. Drums are NI. Acoustic bass is by Chris Hein who's an affiliate of NI I think. You deserve credit for some of this mate - you put me onto NI and, wow, what a difference it has made! I'm even using Reaper more now than my old Yamaha.

Finally for now just to say that I'm chuffed we're back in touch - I've missed our exchanges of ideas and opinions.
posted by Josh Rogan at 3:21 AM on June 24, 2014

Yeah, me too, I tried to track you down on other sites but didn't know how!

Also, I'm kinda working on that 'It Gets Better' track we did, maybe doing it as a charidee single with the local United Way... there's a big rock choir round here than my friend runs that might be interested in doing a massed backing for it...
posted by Sportswriters at 7:20 PM on June 24, 2014

Another super crisp track, man -- great job again on the production. And, good songwriting too. It's both intricate AND catchy, which is no small feat. Your guitar-work throughout but especially in the outro is really something to behold.
posted by edlundart at 10:28 PM on June 24, 2014

I finished a version of "It Gets Better" a few months back. I'm not altogether happy with the recording/performance, but as a demo it'll give you a good steer. Mind you, if you don't want to use this version (or any bits of it - help yourself) that's cool. I guess I see it as a tear 'n' share. Will upload shortly (on iPad right now and don't have a copy do the demo available to post).
posted by Josh Rogan at 1:11 AM on June 25, 2014

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