Seconds, Thirds, Fourths, Maybe Fifth Chances

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time. I’ve been scared of doing so. Just as I’ve been scared of the album I’ve been working on for three years. I’ve been ashamed. I’ve felt like a failure. I’ve felt like a phony.

The roots of this album stretch back even longer than three years. I actually remember the exact day the first two songs were born. It was early in 2012. My first recording project had also come to a halt. I felt like my life had completely fallen apart. I had never felt so alone in my life. All I had was my keyboard. I had writer’s block.

I started writing down lines of songs that moved me - songs that expressed what I was feeling - songs that weren’t my own. It helped. I started playing some chords, and “When You Need Me” flowed out. Almost immediately afterward, “Needle and Thread” also came to life. Suddenly, I had two new companions that helped the loneliness sting a little less.

Fast forward to April 2013. I was feeling much more put together at this point, I had finally finished my debut EP, Everyday Surprises, and had written a handful of new songs. I was ready to move onto the next thing. I had a band put together, and we played to a packed house at the late, great Banter in Denton, Texas, performing songs from the EP as well as some fresh new ones.

I would perform the new material on my first tour, and at countless shows over the next couple years. At last, in February 2016, it was time to hunker down into the studio and put them to tape. We spent a wonderful couple of days recording the drum and bass tracks. Over the next few months, we also recorded electric guitar and keyboard parts.

Then a lot of life happened.

It’s difficult to try to explain reasons for the delay without sounding like a laundry list of excuses. I got a full-time day job. I bought a fixer upper house. I got married. My producer (who is also my husband) became wildly busy with various client projects. All of these were good things. My project got pushed. We worked on it here and there as much as we could, but there never seemed to be enough time to truly finish any one song.

Then it became this intimidating mountain of a project. It started to sound stale and dated to our ears. I struggled with my vocal sound. This was particularly soul-crushing to me. I’ve been singing as long as I can remember, I majored in vocal performance in college, I’ve been singing professionally for 13 years, and I’ve been actively pursuing my career as a singer-songwriter for more than 10. Why should I be struggling with my vocal sound now? This is a tremendous source of shame for me, since singing is a huge part of my identity and has been for most of my life. But I suppose a musician never really stops developing their instrument, and I will continue to grow, improve and develop as a vocalist and musician.

This brings me to this week. I’ve taken the entire week off from work but my husband and I aren’t going anywhere. We’re spending the week in sweat pants, sipping coffee and hashing this thing out once and for all. Yesterday, we listened through all 10 songs as they exist now. We wrote down a game plan. We determined what is missing from each track. We determined we will re-cut all of the vocal tracks with a fresh perspective. We determined we would add fun and creative background vocal parts, acoustic guitar lines and play with midi sounds (which is a new venture for us). We determined we would approach everything we do with joy and love instead of with dread and intimidation. We are making a conscious decision to enjoy the process, the way we did in the beginning when we first started making records together.

Living within these songs is a story that is long overdue for the telling. Seconds, Thirds and Fourths is about having multiple chances to build the life you were meant to live. As it turns out, the same goes for making the record itself. And for that, I am grateful. I’m looking forward to finally finishing this labor of love and letting it out into the world.