Track Previews: "Postcards in Real Time"
Postcards in Real Time is available in the digital stores from Dec 11th 2015, BUT it's available directly from us right now. We've got Digital & USB FlashDrive formats. CD copies ship on Dec 11th.
Every day for the next 11 days, I'm going to post each of the songs in no particular order with a few thoughts on each...
Feel free to share this page... ; )
► 01. GREATEST REVIVAL
This started off in 2012 as a Fender Rhodes experiment that I transferred to guitar for the intro. It always came across powerfully in gigs before I started tracking this guitar version that made the album. Lyrically it means a lot to me, and often going through the process of singing it, or hearing it, it reminds me to keep a more positive outlook about some of the obstacles I've met in music. The character is remembering important times in life when they beat the odds. They're considering the idea of redemption, and what it is to turn personal defeat into victory.
► 02. DESTINY DOES THE SPLITSTEP
I'm not even sure where the line blurs between my own perspective and an imagined character in this song. Definitely I started writing it somewhere close to reality. The positive slant of the chorus in this one is always satisfying to sing against some of the grey areas and questionable behavior going on in the verses. The guitar textures are nice n' muddy, so it was good to accentuate the pop elements of the driving back beat and the backing harmonies. People like it, that's good.
► 03. MORE THAN THESE EYES
Love the way this actually came out as a record, as well as the song arrangement itself. Sometimes you like a song more than the recording of it, or sometimes the recording flatters a song. Getting a track where that ratio seems proportional is pretty rare. This one is maybe my favorite UN thing so far in terms of how I want the music to be represented as it is on a good night, with good sound live.
I'm sure it's too long at six minutes to get a lot of exposure, but that's why I love the album format, and thankfully it seems that people are noticing "More Than These Eyes".
► 04. SOMETHING TO BEGIN
An acoustic folk version of this song was floating around for a while before one day pretty near the completion of the album I deliberately transposed some of the parts to less conventional instruments. I never re-wrote any lyrics after this, it probably all flowed at once, but with the musical track I consciously wanted to bend some of the genre familiarity out of it and come up with something that sounded like garage band origins, but skewed.
► 05. LOVE LEAVE YOUR MARK ON ME
This song pretty much started from the title. There was a famous artist who had a song I thought was too apologetic and weak, so I imagined the opposite reaction and related it to something in my life at a previous point. The chorus line "Love please turn me on to something good // I've been cheated, I've been lied to, I've been screwed" was funny to me and sort of summed up the guy in the song. Something I like is that the first line of the song can be interpreted extremely literally, or metaphorically as something very different, and although both are world's apart in meaning, the message will get back on track and resolve itself in the chorus nicely. "Love Leave You Mark on Me" was released earlier in the year as a single, and it's been fun hearing how people took it. Some of the big broadcasting companies have given it exposure, which was good.
► 06. GEORGE BEST CITY
I was having a conversation on a flight once between London and Belfast. The "55 minutes" line in the song is referring to the flight time between the two cities. We were descending into George Best City Airport, and some of the ideas in the conversation were bouncing around in my head. The role of Belfast in shaping me from an early age. The fact that many people abroad think of George Best when they hear of Belfast. The point where I admitted I needed to leave the country to have experiences in music and in life on a bigger scale than a small island could provide. The memories of failing, failing and then succeeding in the city which has had much to overcome of it's own, but is doing so. The hope that every time I left George Best City I would return to find it recovering.
► 07. CONSTELLATIONS OF SHE
The first thing to say about this: it's Steve Ferrone from Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers on the drums. That chance came up through a friend who was working with him and did us a big favor, knowing how obsessed with The Heartbreakers that I am. The second thing is that it's one of my favorite choruses, I remember the key parts of it coming together pretty quickly.
► 08. JEFFERSON WAS RIGHT
"Jefferson..." is one of the songs on this album that isn't autobiographical. The landscape is post banking crisis of 2008. It started off sounding a lot like something from the Americana folk tradition, and we did versions of it in radio sessions as early as February 2012. When it came to recording it, I deliberately modernized the production. The guy in the song is living the logical consequences of a variable interest rate in a failing economy. It started off from a real position I found myself in, and still find myself in at time of writing, then the character became like an American cousin I might've had. Someone I have a lot of empathy for at least. In the song he is starting to read about Thomas Jefferson's opinions on the danger of the banking industry controlling too much of American life, which is obviously what happened in the end.
► 09. SOMEONE GOTTA HOLD
One of the older songs on the album, that it could've been on "21st Century Redemption Songs" if it was finished in time. Came to life with some valvey guitar overdubs and some work on the beat. Backing vocals on the first album were very sparse, but with "Postcards..." I was always experimenting with layering and keeping composite blends on the lead vocal after seeing an interview that Collins & Gabriel weren't separated on some Genesis master recordings.
► 10. AGE OF NO INNOCENCE
The last two tracks of "Postcards..." are somewhat related in that they are basically snapshot memories of what I found it to be like growing up during the Northern Irish "Troubles". I say "I" because they are strictly factual & autobiographic. No artistic license used. "Age of No Innocence" is not political in tone because in March of 1992 I was 6, and was simply observing the physical sight of the main street falling down one morning, having been destroyed in a terrorist bomb. My father collected me for parental access, and the bomb having been at the top of his street, we stood and watched mattresses falling down through the broken floorboards of Blackburn's department store.
The army helicopter noises were recorded from the window of my house in March 2014 while the song was being written, which at least from a sonic point of view was happy coincidence.
► 11. DON'T WANNA KILL FOR RELIGION
In this one I'm recounting a memory of being evacuated during a bomb scare while eating lunch on the top floor of British Home Stores in Belfast around 1994. Everyone was rushing down the fire escape, as children were separated from their parents in the stampede. It was happening regularly, and every night there would be political coverage on the news, as terrorist groups would "claim" the event. Religious leaders would be interviewed standing outside their place of worship speaking euphemistically in defense of "their" militants, who were protecting their "community". Political words like "Unionist/Nationalist" and religious words like "Protestant/Catholic" were interchangeable when adults spoke about these killings, which as a child confused me, and it still makes no sense. So the song is a literal account of that day, and how I tried to understand it at 8.