Dearest Fans, Friends and Family,
Thank you for your contributions to the kickstarter campaign I launched for a solo album what seems like a lifetime ago. Now, you can download the recordings for free, or check/fill out your info on the kickstarter survey for your snail-mailed rewards! Packages will be mailed out shortly after I receive your updated information (or, just let me know that it’s still the same!).
Your donation has supported not only the recordings I’ve made over the past two years, but it also sparked a change in my life so profound that I am compelled to tell you a bit about it. This was a long journey, and one that is not easy to write about sensibly. Bear with me.
At the time of the campaign – the very start of 2010 – I was fresh out of a band I loved, and whose dissolution broke my heart. It seemed natural to keep writing, and, since I didn’t have a band, I was playing shows solo more often than not. A friend of mine said, “It’s time for an EMay album!” The song Astronauts is for her.
When the album was successfully funded (THANK YOU!!)… the flood of doubt hit me. I had been in a studio twice before them, both with full bands and complete arrangements. I had never been a bandleader. I wasn’t sure that I had enough songs to record, that they were any good, or if I could ever see the project to the end. But, the album was not about me – this was about you, the people who believed in my music. I had to push it forward.
But how? I started at home, and did manage to get a few recordings out of that period of time (If You’re Gonna Go, Don’t Lock The Door). I went to one studio, but the creative juice just wasn’t there. The tracks didn’t capture the songs the way I hoped they would. I scheduled time to give it a second shot in April.
A week before that studio session, I was bit on the forearm by a dog and, for several weeks, I had no feeling in three fingers of my left hand. The tailspin from the subsequent physical, emotional and financial distress fed the self-doubt and a depression I was sinking into. For the better part of a year, this rendered me unable to write music, unable to work on an album, unable to even think about the creative process.
A few things happened during this time that turned out to be lifelines. In May, I was asked to perform at a wedding, which gave me the impetus to play through my physical rehabilitation. In October, I returned to The Saturday Light Brigade radio program, which I did as a solo musician for the first time (Child’s Eyes was recorded live that day). And, in December, I joined a cover band. The Sectionals rehearsed in a recording studio, and when it came up that I was trying to record an album, the guys were very supportive. We started recording some of these tunes (Incantations, Jewelry, Like I Do, Boomerang).
While these were all joyful things, they offered me a track back into the life I had become afraid of. It was not long before I had to tend to the underlying depression in a meaningful way. It is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, a battle between two minds: the self who is creatively free, able to turn anything into a song, in love with life and people and dancing and sharing a stage; and the woman whose doubt and fear can become so crippling that all she can do is hide from herself and the things she cares about. For a long while, I was very isolated – unless I was performing. I have always felt at home, safe and comfortable, on stage. And the kind words you would say to me after a show were also lifelines, each one of them. You *still* believed in me, no matter how I felt about myself.
It took me until June of 2011 to realize that I needed help and I knew no way to escape it by myself. I gained a lot of support once I started reaching out, a lot of new and old friends who came to my side after the darkest hours. I started therapy to sort through the grief of losing a parent, which festered through my life into my emotions, how I made decisions, and why I had little faith in anything. I quit drinking and everything else I used to numb my feelings once I saw that I needed to walk through pain it in order to heal.
I started working with special needs adults in the fall of 2011, and noticed the simplest gifts I had been given: I could feed and bathe myself, walk around independently, live any life I chose to create. This blossomed into recognizing other blessings: having dreams, passion and talents, loving friends and family. There are so many more.
I wrote several songs in the summer of 2011 (Alexander), and went back in the studio. I opened for some national acts and received a lot of positive feedback. I returned to SLB as an employee, first contracted to teach journalism and audio production classes to grade-school kids; the occasional songwriting sessions I shared with them were simply life-changing. I was asked to sing at a funeral for a friend’s son. I watched other people grieve their own losses. I became attuned to the fact that I was not the only person struggling. Combined, it was enough to wake me up, to bring me back to the land of the living.
Little by little, the gratitude for the good life I’ve been blessed with, combined with the ability to use my music and my experience to teach and help others, has led me to a life that I am extremely happy to be a part of. In 2012 alone, I wrote at least two dozen finished songs. I went into the studio to record demos of every song I’d ever written (that I still remembered how to play, at least). I released these both as short-run demos to sell at concerts (Summer 2012 and Spring 2013)
Slowly still, I’ve recognized that I don’t need to have any of these tunes in their “final” form – they are all evolutions. The tunes that stick around once the others are forgotten or laid to rest are saturated with far more truth, much deeper meanings, than I ever could have concocted when they were first written. The Fall 2011 songs were all recorded during my depression (Don’t Lock The Door was my “happy song”, but the recording captures the truth of where I was at). The ones on the Summer 2012 CD were all brand new (except Amazed, a co-write with a college friend) , more honest, to my ears at least, and were about facing the darkness instead of drowning in it. The Spring 2013 songs, except The Same, were also freshly brand new. Most of them are love songs.
Almost all of the tunes here were recorded “live” in the studio, with little to no post-production (though Mike Hickman added a lot of love to the Spring 2013 sessions). You’ll hear a lot of rawness. But, I now see that this is a necessary step, that it has always been. Ultimately, this whole process has healed some wounds I was living with, and opened me up to writing songs that are uplifting, honest, swaddled in faith and love. Now, with all of their flaws, these recordings remind me how grateful I am to be in the position to share them with you, no matter how belatedly it feels.
There are no words big enough to thank you for your part in this step in my life and creative journey. Thank you for your donation, for helping me tune in to my life-long dream of playing music. Thank you for your patience and for your gentle reminders. Thank you for believing in me and my music so many months ago. Thanks for taking a listen to these recordings, and for reading about this journey. You are an invaluable part of the process and the product.
With the deepest gratitude, always,
Here are the albums, in reverse chronological order. They are all housed and available for download at emaymusic.bandcamp.com. Some additional songs of out-takes from the above-mentioned sessions will be available on this post shortly, as a special link for kickstarter-backers only.