All The Good Summers
Andrew & Noah VanNorstrand
2010 Great Bear Records
Noah and I started working on All the Good Summers over a year ago. Our first studio dates were in August which was a somewhat last minute change of plan for us; we were originally going to record in November but had to bump it up by a couple months due to touring schedule conflicts. We were able to get some time booked with our good friend and engineer Will Russell (Electric Wilburland in Newfield, NY) between trips to Michigan and Alaska so rather than record all the music in one big push like we have in the past we decided to start early and work on it in chunks.
There were a few things we wanted to do differently with this project than we did with our last album, A Certain Tree. We knew we wanted to expand our sound with broader instrumentation and a strong focus on the three-part vocal blend we've developed with Noah's wife Kailyn Wright. We also knew we wanted to feature some other musicians rather than do all the overdubs ourselves. Earlier in 2009 we'd started playing some shows with accordionist Rachel Bell and bassist Kevin Dorsey and they both agreed to join us in the studio. And of course it wouldn't be an Andrew & Noah album without some direction from our long-time friend Pete Sutherland. In addition to helping early on with our vocal arrangements and in mixing, Pete added his always tasteful and subtle touch to the recording on piano, keyboards and pump organ.
There were a handful of songs that we'd been playing live for several months that kind of formed the initial core of our material. Noah's open-road country tune Jetstream and two songs of mine; the groovy pirate ballad Samuel Mason and a more reflective song You Are the One in My Dreams, were some of the first tracks we tackled. Shortly after that Will introduced us to Dana Billings, a phenomenal young drummer from the Ithaca area. We hit it off immediately. Dana filled out the sound of the album in a really exciting and totally unexpected way. During September and October we added my mellow alt-folk-rock tune Love and Winter, Noah and Kailyn's lovely duet Faded to a Dream and another butt-kickin wacked-out country song by Noah called Where Should I Go.
As we spent more time playing with "the band" Noah and I began to write and record some brand new material which kind of changed the direction of the album. Two fresh instrumentals got added to the track list; a rocking twin fiddle jam titled The Wasp's Goggles and the more sober Lady Pole (or A Night at Lost-Hope). Lady Pole, which was inspired by the book Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susan Clarke, was especially fun to work on since it grew from a fairly simple little melody into an elaborate concept piece with multiple fiddles, mandolins, banjos, guitars, bouzoukis, accordion, piano, bass, drums and percussion!
In November we recorded a couple of simpler tracks. Only One Season is a song pulling from some of my favorite themes: heartache, sorrow and regret. I actually wrote it at the studio one night, showed it Noah the next morning and we recorded it the following day. A Song for Reverend P.D. Midgett III is a happier instrumental duet written on the banjo and featuring GCGE tuning on the fiddle. One of the final pieces we recorded was Elinor, a song based on Jane Austin's novel Sense and Sensibility and featuring Kailyn's exquisite lead vocals.
The most exciting thing for me was watching our music change as other people played it. Rachel, Kevin, Dana, Pete and Kailyn all give fantastic performances all over the album. But one dude in particular I've got to mention. In addition to being a top-notch engineer, Will Russell had a huge impact on this entire process by totally investing in us and making things possible we never could have achieved on our own. Wilburland is a fantastic place to make a record. It's in a beautiful old church south of Ithaca; great sounding room, great gear, great atmosphere. The humor is better some days than others. Seriously though, working with Will is one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had and I think that fact comes through loud and clear in our music. We hope you enjoy All The Good Summers! Look for a general release date in early May.
Lyrics and additional liner notes can be found on our website http://www.andrewandnoah.com