Rick Millward / Blog
Now that "Limited Edition" is completed and on it's way to Americana radio, I've found that I'm inspired to write some new material. This is after a pretty long dry spell that was broken by the song "When", which is a track I've demoed and have been playing in my shows and getting a great response. The new material will be put out a track at a time starting in a month or so and it is looking like these will be tracks I will promote as singles. Even so the economics of doing releases still favor doing "albums" so they will join the current release probably in the Fall. I'm thinking it might be fun to have a contest to come up with a title.
About 'Limited Edition"
My EP "Limited Edition" will be released on Jan 1. These six tracks come from recordings done over the last few years that I've re-mastered and reworked some. They all have one thing in common in that all these songs came about somewhat unconsciously and spontaneously while practicing. Sometimes you will hear a songwriter say a song "wrote itself" as if he or she had nothing to do with it. I don't buy that. What I think is that the creative process is always working behind the scenes trying to make connections with the all the information we get from all our experiences and every once in a while something clicks in there and an idea hooks up with a sound and you become aware of it and go from there. It is a mysterious and magical thing to be sure, but very much a part of being a creative person, and a gift I always am surprised and delighted to receive. You'll notice that these songs are not love songs, with the exception of "See You Tonite", because the theme of the collection is personal, and I hope universal in expressing the inner life we all have; our pain, our joy, our secrets and our fears. We are all limited editions - unique and priceless in this vast and unknowable universe.
As a producer I have worked with a number of acts over the years, mostly back when I worked full time as a recording engineer. It's only natural for me as I build my profile here on RN that I would look to my fellow 'verbers for an opportunity to work together on a project. Specifically, I'm looking for an artist that doesn't have the budget or resources to record a full band track of their music or someone who would like to entrust their music to someone who'd bring another vision to their tracks. With so much music being created it's even more imperative that artists focus on producing tracks that compete technically and also in terms of engaging production value. The first part has become a lot easier with the equipment available today, but it's also made a very crowded environment where one only has a few seconds to impress a listener. In this environment the single has come back as the way someone can get attention, and ultimately sales from downloads. This is what I'd like to do going forward and I'm excited about the possibilities...here's some more info; http://rmillward.com/studio.html
I'm quite frankly in awe of the talent and creativity that I've found here on RN. There are many many artists on this site that I think hold up with anything the major labels put out and I can't help but feel that we're on the verge of a whole new way to enjoy music and it seems to me all it's going to take is for the general public...non musicians...to transition to the internet to seek out the tracks that they want to purchase. One of the trends I see is that many of the reporting "stations" for Americana are online streaming sites, and they have much more freedom to play independent artists than traditional radio...it's like the 70's when FM was a more open format...and that's going to help artists without the six-figure promotion budgets get the attention they deserve.
The Next Thing
I've had a great time refining my recording technique to get the most out of my simple home studio and what I'd like to do now is work with some other musicians and see what I can do for them. The idea is to collaborate and make singles, that showcase the song and the artist and hopefully takes the song to the next level. Many of the artists that I hear on RN already have amazingly polished tracks, so I'll be looking for writers and singers that I think might be a good fit for my style and approach.
Sunday Morning - Mike White Presents
This weeks focus is on a production team from London that was an early fan and another set of tracks that I immediately liked. Frankly, this is not my genre, but the very first song I listened to "Miss U Bad" just jumped into my head because the production just so great. What these four collaborators have accomplished is a consistent set of tracks that have a retro feel while still contemporary. It's all about the beat, the groove; for me it is a little nostalgic, but in a very cool way. Unlike other music in this genre, which can sound dated, MWP has a subtle freshness that keeps it in the moment. One way I think they do this is that the tempos are just a hair faster than you might expect which gives the music a little more drive and urgency. The tracks provide a frame for the vocalists, with the music and singing winding around each other so that the vocals really do become another instrument. Overall there is a tasteful restraint that belies a confidence and and clear sense of fun and joy that is the essence of compelling music.
Sunday Morning - Scott Paul Davis
I'm going to try to spend Sunday mornings getting a little deeper into some of my favorites... When I first heard this guitar player I thought what great tone and touch. He really reminded me of SRV, with a touch of Jeff Beck...two of my all time favorites. Every once in while you hear somebody that you can say is a guitar player's player, and for straight ahead blues I think Scott's one of those guys. What I like about the recordings is the consistency from track to track. The simple blues trio format allows you to hear every nuance and the sound has a warm analog feel. Blues songs can be too long sometimes and Scott avoids that too with crisp arrangements that get the job with a minimum of fuss. If you only sample one track, check out "Cross Cut Saw"...it's a kick!
I'm lovin' this site. However, I've gotten to a point now where I simply can't listen to every new fan. When I started building my profile I resolved to try to listen to everyone, and so far I've kept up, but there's only so much time in a day, and frankly, only so much music, aside from my own, that I can absorb in a day. I'm inspired by everything I hear and I continue to be amazed at the number of creative people finding a voice on Reverbnation; each new fan is the promise of some wonderful new music. One thing I have yet to do is build my list of recommendations, something I've held off on because I want it to be well considered. So far it's been acts I either know personally, or have just focused on for one reason or another. I've responded to many, sometimes just a track or sometimes there's an original spark that just hits me and I know I want to hear more. I need a strategy though, so here's my plan: I'm going to focus on those who comment on my page first, and see how that goes. My reasoning is that if someone likes my tracks enough to make a comment, that there's a strong chance I'll like them as well. More to come...
This comes under the heading "What is Americana?". I've been listening to a lot of artists, and also those that are getting attention in the larger arena of radio and it seems to me that one thing that might be said about this genre is that it tends to favor songs that are, shall we say, less than upbeat. This comes from the folk and blues tradition that's the foundation of the genre. These days I really see how these styles and "alt rock" have merged to create the Americana sound, and though I identify with and embrace it, I can't fully get behind everything being so gloomy. Sure, I recognize that there's injustice and suffering but life can be sweet, too. There's another narrative that follows and it's more carefree and joyful. "See You Tonight", from my record "homemade", follows that tradition. I like to think it could have been written 150 years ago, and it's just about how being in love "makes all my woes fly away" - not a bad place to be...I'd like to see more upbeat songs accepted as Americana. One example is Band of Joy's "Little Angel Dance". It definitely sounds like Americana to me, but it's a happy little song and I like to hear those once in a while, too.
Something Sorta New
I'm posting a song from my current record "Scrapbook" while I continue to work on some new songs. As I develop these tracks I'm keenly aware that some of them are more "commercial" than others and I got to thinking...what's the difference? I'm not completely sure what the distinction is, but I think part of it is that I consider some of the songs to be closer to what I call Americana, while the others are more "mainstream". For instance, on the record there's a song called "Someday", which I've given an acoustic treatment but I could easily hear performed by a mainstream Pop or Country artist, with a much bigger production than I've done. Anyway, I'm going to keep this site true to my Americana vision and just post my rootsyer (is that a word?...spellcheck doesn't think so) tracks and try to be consistent in that way.