About - Ballads In Otherness
It’s a strange title for a record, Ballads In Otherness. For starters, many of the tunes are not ballads at all in the usual sense, i.e. slow tempos. But I prefer the ‘folk’ or older definition of the word ballad as being a song or tune, at any tempo, that conveys a story. To that end, there are definitely uptempo ballads on this collection. They all take you on a journey and you get to script your own story while along for the ride. As for ‘otherness’, the album certainly qualifies as that.
Several of these tunes were written in 2017 while on a world tour with my old pal Neil Diamond. When I toured with him back in 1971 through 1987 I always brought a guitar back to the dressing room and invariably found a bathroom or shower stall in each venue to practise and play in. The hard reflective walls created an attractive reverb. 2017 was no different in that regard and Bo-Kay, Autumn Over Hamburg, Soul Supper and Intermezzo were conjured up between sound checks and shows in various shower stalls and bathrooms on tour. After 30 years it seems nothing’s changed in that department. Neil D. very kindly penned the liner notes to Ballads In Otherness.
Along the way you’ll hear a couple of legendary guests, Spooner Oldham on B-3 organ and Charlie McCoy on vibes. I also collaborated with Pangs on the song When Yesterday Comes. I thought they’d be a perfect fit for the tune and so they were. I simply turned it over to them then sat back and played the melody on a gut string guitar. I couldn’t be happier with the result and it too qualifies as otherness. The usual bunch of friends and talented musicians returned to record with me; Ted Tretiak-drums, Roger Spencer-bass, Nick Bennett-guitars, Jim Hoke-sax and string arrangements and more. George Bradfute is back again as well to capture the music, mix it and make it sound better than I could ever imagine.
There is plenty of ‘other’ music here; some r&b, a gum shoe serenade played on a console steel guitar, something slightly Asian, a duet for English Horn and Stratocaster, my nod to Hamburg’s old recording scene, a solo electric guitar piece and much more.
Here’s to otherness. Dive in, the water’s fine.
Nashville, Tennessee 2018