Updated: Apr 1
Wandering rumbling skies.
I’m water when your spirit’s dry.
I had just started gaining a little bit of momentum with my music back in 2018. It had been a couple of years since I learned to play guitar by watching youtube videos of Seth Avett playing guitar. A couple of years since that first open mic where I was so nervous that my eyes ached afterwards, exhausted from the intense cross-eyed fixation on that microphone. “Just look at the microphone. Don’t notice that there are people. Dang! I know there are people. Just don’t blink. What in the world am I doing… I don’t belong here.”
I don’t belong.
How lucky I was back then to have somehow found myself surrounded by people who thought otherwise. People who welcomed me both as a friend and as a musician. And eventually as a bandmate and respected songwriter.
I’m wind that holds birds of blue
I’m the way the trees bow for you
You’re wandering crooked roads
And I’m your moon
Our band, Under the Oak, was fun. So much fun. Even though I continued to be plagued by a generous helping of self doubt and imposter syndrome, this group of friends made sure I knew that I did belong... with them at least. I was one of them - a musician. A songwriter. And they helped me embrace that in a way that I never could have in any other circumstance.
Thank you, Adam, Chris, and Peter. I hope that over the years, my effort to return that favor with my love, support, collaboration, and friendship may approach even half of the meaningfulness to you as your friendship and support has meant to me.
Even back then, and in the midst of the most fulfilling work with the band, I’d wanted to dabble in a solo project for a little while - something simple. I had some songs set aside. Six of them. And would imagine how I’d bring them to life… where I would record, how I’d choose a studio, how the songs would be arranged. I figured my first step would be to record a couple of demos here at home, and use them to fine-tune the songs and to visualize where I’d add in some other instruments to achieve the sound I was after.
Life is busy though, and there was always an excuse to not sit down and record those demos. Then June rolled around. School was letting out and my house was loud and full of the sounds of childhood summers. We had some fun Under the Oak festivals booked in the coming days. Songcraft - a unique and beautiful collaborative project by Chris, was well under way and a single featuring my vocal was set to be released in the coming months. Many of my close musical friends were headed to Montana, for the annual Acoustic Life Festival hosted by another dear friend, Tony Polecastro, and his team.
I had only been to that festival one time before, but had fallen in love. The mountains… the people… the music. It was only a two day event, but so rich in learning, community, and moving performances from accomplished artists - and it all culminates in one final Saturday night hoorah of music and friendship.
And it was Saturday night. My husband, Pat, was out of town for the weekend, coaching a water polo camp. The kids were in bed now and there was enough quiet and stillness to allow some complicated emotions to creep in.
Jealousy is never a good thing - after all, I had willingly made the decision to stay back home with my family. We had so much going on that I didn’t want to miss: the kids were fresh out of school for the summer, my son was playing water polo at the very camp where Pat and I had met for the first time so many years ago, and I had planned on heading down there the next day to see him, connect with some old friends, and do a little reminiscing.
But in the stillness, I just got sad. And lonely. My house was quiet, and there was music happening in Montana.
Joan Baez once said “action is the antidote to despair”. I ended up heading to the quietest, most insulated place I could find so as not to wake the kids or be interrupted by the stray bark of one of the dogs.
A closet in our master bedroom. Bigger than a standard closet, yet not quite qualifying as a “walk-in”, there was just enough room for me to kick some laundry out of the way to sit on the wood floor and settle in with my guitar. I balanced the little handheld recorder on a box in front of me. I needed some demos.
You’re wandering dusty roads
Right where you need to be
That night, I embraced exactly where I was in this journey; all of my heart and all of the beauty that is my life, my family, and my music. Imperfect… oh, so imperfect. But real.
It didn’t take me long to decide to use these closet recordings for my first solo release, rather than heading into a studio. I’m not sure if it was the fact that I listen back now and enjoy knowing that in those moments, my kids were sleeping peacefully right down the hall - their childhood somehow preserved in the music. Or maybe it was my own rebellious spirit; the musical version of joining in on that trend where people take no-makeup selfies to remind the world that real life is beautiful, too. Or maybe it was just me being lazy and cheap.
Whatever the reason, I had the files now. But they still needed to be mixed and mastered in order to be used, and I needed somebody good to do it. Given the humble beginnings of these recordings, I needed some magic to bring the songs to their fullest potential.
Re: Songs From a Closet.
When I went out on a limb and emailed Shani Gandhi, a Grammy-winning producer, engineer, and mixer who had worked on one of my favorite albums (Sarah Jarosz - Undercurrent), I’m not sure I expected to hear back. But I did. She was humble and kind and brought 5 of those 6 songs to life for me in what is now June Tapes.
The 6th song stayed in my pocket. I held onto that one, not really knowing exactly why. Part of it was insecurity, I’m sure - the recording wasn’t as good as the others. My timing seemed a little off. There were guitar string squeaks.
But as the years went by and that song sat around in the dark, left behind… I thought maybe I should do something with it and bring it back to life.
And this is The Wandering. The original vocal and guitar recording from the closet that night in June of 2018. A banjo track with some heart exploding solos from my friend Steve Varney (frontman of Kid Reverie, and banjoist/guitarist for Gregory Alan Isakov). And some added production elements that had swirled around in my head for several years until I finally stumbled through the process of pulling it all out of the ether.
It’s a song about hope. It’s a song about loss and beauty… maybe some ghosts and butterflies. The moment you realize a hike in the woods is actually a hug from the Universe.
It’s about whatever you need it to be about. If you like it, it will have its very own meaning and it will be just for you. It is for you.
Out March 31, 2023.
I hope you like it.