The songs on Leaving Things the Way I Found Them include the first music that Barbara and Eric have created together. Most listeners will find something familiar, but they will also find something new in the way genres bend and collide in the shape of the tunes and the harmonies. These songs draw from tough and tender life lessons and from family stories. This is American folk music that reaches back into personal memory as a way of starting, but then can travel in almost any direction. The third track on the album, “Time Stood Still” has a classic country feel and uplifting lyrics that remind us all that “life isn’t meant to be wasted.” Another stand-out track is their cover of the traditional song “Wayfaring Stranger.” The chemistry between the couple really shines here. Chasalow’s dark and haunting guitar picking blends perfectly with Cassidy’s pristine vocal line floating above. The compositions on Leaving Things the Way…are both striking and comforting. It is a collection of folk songs that simply leave the listener feeling good.
Leaving Things the Way I Found Them was recorded and mixed by Mark Thayer (James Taylor) at Signature Sounds in Pomfret, Connecticut, and mastered by Ian Kennedy (Susan Tedeschi, Josh Ritter, Reverse) at New Alliance East in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Joining Cassidy and Chasalow in the studio were David “Goody” Goodrich (Chris Smither, Peter Mulvey, Jeffrey Foucault) on guitars, drums, piano, and glockenspiel, Robert Nieske (Jimmy Giuffre, The Either/Orchestra, George Russell) on upright bass, and Ian Kennedy on violin.
Barb: Eric and I have been musicians most of our lives, working in different genres. About three years ago Eric called me into his studio and asked me to sing something, I don’t remember what. So I sang and he jumped in with harmony. We sounded good. We were surprised that we liked the way we sounded together. As it turns out, we also share a large folk repertoire. So we started working up American folk songs, choices based on what we liked and what we sounded good doing. We started performing for friends in intimate settings and in local coffeehouses. We were gratified with the positive feedback. At one point Eric confessed to me that he had given up trying to write pop songs because he couldn’t write lyrics; he was just much better at setting text. Something about that admission touched me – and before the end of that day, I had emailed him a set of lyrics which were to become Banks of the Galena – and we were off!
Leaving Things the Way I Found Them is our debut release. Eric has released a number of CDs of his classical compositions, but this is the first for us together and certainly the first for me as a singer and lyricist. The stories in the songs that we have written are personal, but will feel familiar to many listeners. We try to find music for each song that will pull the listener into the world of the song. Eric loves finding a great tune that feels good to sing and then finding chords that move things in surprising ways.
We were very lucky to have been able to record at Signature Sounds in Pomfret, Connecticut and to have worked with David “Goody” Goodrich as our producer as well as a fellow musician. Robert Nieske, who plays upright bass, is a local jazz legend, and a few of our songs were greatly and sensitively enhanced by the violin of Ian Kennedy. Mark Thayer who engineered the CD knew immediately what we were looking for in terms of the “sound” and feel of the songs. It was a wonderful, collaborative musical experience and we think that the CD benefits from the creative input we received from our “team”.
We do want listeners to know about two of the songs. Anna’s Song-Shohola 1864 is based on a true Cassidy family story about the famous Great Shohola Train Wreck that took place during the waning days of the Civil War. Banks of the Galena is about how things we do when are young feel tied to place and how the memory just never changes, even when we do.