"All Things Considered" is the second highly-acclaimed album by award-winning singer-songwriter Larry Potts. (L.K. Potts)
Genres: Contemporary, Intelligent Folk, Americana, and Country songs with a taste of Pop and Jazz.
Appeal: The production of the record is highly professional: very strong lyrical sense, memorable hooks and big choruses, great instrumentation, evocative song stories with universal meanings that are intelligent, tender, funny, and heartfelt. The graphics, photos, and lyrics are first-rate.
The album relies on strong lyrical sense, meaning, and clarity. And you can hear every word in every song.
The sheer variety of topics on record is unusual: American History (Captains of the Dream--Lewis and Clark--and Baby of the Brigade); Loves lost and found (Great Big Empty, Simply Beautiful, Don't Let Love); the death of man's best friend (Our Last Walk); a happy jazz tune Late in the Game; The clever and humorous "Hats"; a tribute to a mountain range (High Sierra); all have strong appeal, each song distinct in its own right.
Four of the songs on this album have won major awards in International songwriting contests (Top Finalist position in the '05 Great American Song Contest, Unisong 3d place overall; another won West Coast Songwriter Song of the Year in '04, and yet another recently won an Honorable Mention in the WCSA's '06 contest.)
Steve Seskin, hit songwriter and song teacher, said of Larry in a Sonoma County magazine article, "I'm a big fan of Larry's music--his songs are always honest and real fresh...he has that X-factor in songwriting you just can't teach."
Bonnie Hayes, another hit songwriter and teacher, said
about Larry's music (about "The Shape of Things to Come" (1st album) that these are "srong story-songs, highly listenable."
Notes by the artist, track by track
Track 1: 3804: Train song, Unisong International Song Contest 3d place (only American of the four finalists)
My song here was one of four finalists out of over 600 entries. This one has an industrial-strength vibe,some magnetic guitar work, and a powerful chorus: it includes recorded train sounds complete with whistle, rail rhythms, and the story of an abandoned diesel engine in my home town of Petaluma. If you look at the cover photo, that's where the song originated. I had my picture taken on the album for a local magazine, and I got to wondering where this old diesel engine had come from,what its history was, and did some research. It had been hit pretty hard by vandals and taggers, so that became part of the song...
there's an underlying metaphor of how anything old tends to get discarded, no matter the contribution. We're trying to save the engine for kids to play on but it's not clear if that's going to happen as of now. Kevin Harris does a killer acoustic guitar solo on the tune that's worth hearing.
Track 2 That-A-Way: I grew up in the 50's and idolized
the Western celluloids at the Sat. afternoon matinee: Autrey, Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy,Cisco Kid, and Sky King. It's a big oountry tune with catchy hook that the A&R guys from Nashville like a lot. Especially the stellar four-part harmonies in the chorus. In fact, an agent picked this one up back in October to pitch to Kenny Chesney.(Of course, another long, long shot) There's a tricky little social/political message in the bridge..."I'm no kid but that streak's still in me--I'll ride the range and see what I can see--find a no-nonsense town with a sense of fair play where a simple straight answer's gonna make my day." In the lyric book is a shot of me at 8 years old with my Red Ryder boots and six shooter.
Track 3 Captains of the Dream (Lewis and Clark): Being a Northwester (grew up in Salem, Oregon) I just had to write a song about the epic saga of L&C. Read their journals, read Stephen Ambrose's Undaunted Courage twice. How do you boil down all of those adventures and events into 3
verses, chorus, and a bridge? Took me two years of revisions to come up with a workable solution, and I think it came out pretty well. A majestic song, great instrumentation, memorable lines, like "Astonished by the Buffalo, eagles everywhere..and the terrible roar at the forest door was the giant grizzly bear.." I'm related to both William Clark AND Sargent John Potts who was on the expedition. Jefferson really knew what he was doing when he chose William Clark and Meriwether Lewis. And they did
blaze the way for the American dream, and could have been
killed or lost in a dozen ways, but somehow persevered
and accomplished what seemed impossible. The truth is that
much of the territory L&C explored had been inhabited for centuries by indigenous tribes and in the previous two by French traders and trappers as well. And the political forces after L&C reverted to Indo-European colonial-type
oppression in the years following the Corps of Discovery.
And Sacagawea was pivotal to the survival of the journey--I make reference to this in the bridge--have we forgotten
her, her people, and their sacred bond to the land?
Track 4 Simply Beautiful: This is a love ballad.
It's more pop genre than anything else, but could be country as well. I cut this song in Nashville with Bryan Cumming of Sha Na Na fame (now a producer) in studio 23 and I have to say it came out quite well.
During the session,he got so excited he ran upstairs to get a string of bells. They add some extra romance on the song, and the harmonies in the chorus and the end of the song are quite well done. I was trying to say how deeply
affected we are by the woman we love, and what specific characteristics of her we appreciate and honor. A real favorite in concert.
Track 5 I'm American Too: My one protest song on this album. It starts with a big acapella harmony intro and slides into "borrowing the voice" of four groups of people who in my opinion have been marginalized in this country: Native Americans, Black Americans, the working poor and the homeless. There are some stark and strong lyrics here,but the overall message is one of harmony--of respect between all peoples, a common and positive goal amid the divisiveness that threatens or democracy.
I'm American Too won a top finalist position in this year's Great American Song Contest.
Track 6 Late in the Game: A fun and positive jazz story song that is different from all of the other songs on the album. The friends I gave demos have downloaded this song and seem to really enjoy hearing it over and over. It's a happy,feel-good tune in the style of Harry Connick Jr. Peter Welker, a jazzmaster and fabulous trumpet player from my hometown here of Petaluma (the Peter Welker who toured with Van Morrison and a host of other big-name stars, came in on the recording to do a three-part flugelhorn, and did a marvelous job. It's a big band arrangement anyway, and he liked the tune so much that just last week he put it on his radio show in San Francisco (check it out--Tower IPOD broadcast. He put my tune alongside Joyce Cooling, Bill Watrous, Steve Smith, and one of his own. I was SO honored to be included among them. The song has been picked up for a music libary in Hollywood for film and TV.
Track 7 Hats: This is a light,humorous song featuring dueling guitars--Kevin and me. I had been listening to Mark Knopfler and Chet Atkins' Neck and Neck album and wanted to do something like that. So I had fun writing the lyrics for this, and the chorus is pretty cool--"Some are fancy, some laid-back, some are tall and some are flat..Dr. Seuss put one on a cat--Hats, Hats, Hats, Hats, can't have too many hats." The dialogue bet. me and Kevin is some fun pun-trading. Children love this song and like to sing the chorus.
Track 8 Don't Let Love: This is a traditional country tune that I envisioned about a lovelorn cowboy who had been heartbroken one too many times. I saw him almost giving up until enticed by the woman who was right for him. Perhaps the bridge is my favorite part--"You can say that you're all done...but stubborn don't mean you won...I got beat up by lonely 'til I saw the light...livin'ain't life without love." Seems to me love is central to the human condition, and despite the scars and the pain, there's always a chance things will work out. I played it for Michael Anderson hit songwriter (Pam Tillis) at the Taxi conference in L.A. in November and he liked it a lot and then suggested a couple of changes, which I shaped my own way...I think the song works well now. Still not sure the title's right, though, but haven't figured out a better one.
Track 9 High Sierra: Having backpacked and hiked in the High Sierra of California for nearly 40 years, I've come to appreciate the wild beauty of this great mountain range. There's a pretty neat picture of my friends Tom, Rick, and me above the lyric sheet in the booklet, near Aloha Lake in Desolation Wilderness. I tried to voice my love of the great beauty I have found there, and make some comparisons with other great mountains around the U.S. This has the flavor of John Denver to it and the song works pretty well...a big, majestic, wide-open song that details the Sierras as if they have attributes of a woman you love. Another great guitar solo by Kevin. I play this tune with a part capo in E (DADGAD)and melodically I'd have to say it fairly rings.
Track 10 Strawberry Dress: I had an idea about an American soldier about to go into the Normandy inavasion from England in 1944 who meets an English girl at a USO dance, and it came about after I had been working on a waltz-like strum on my guitar. The story evolves and has a big surprise in the third verse having to do with narrative point of view. Definitely a love story set historically. Wrote it with some help from my co-writer and friend Scott O'Brien. This is one of those songs that arrives very mysteriously, almost like you are downloading something from the collective unconscious. I'm sure stories like this are not uncommon out of WWII. A very romantic song.
I put my father's picture above the song in the booklet, even though he never left stateside--he was an Army Captain, a weapons instructor at Fort Benning, Ga. near where I was born.
Track 11 Don't Count Me Out: This is an up-tempo country tune that highlights the heroic struggles of three major historical figures--Helen Keller, Jackie Robinson, and Christopher Reeve. It also refers in the bridge to my own struggle with a serious health problem--a degenerative nerve disease that nearly killed me 6 years ago. (And from which I miraculously and totally recovered). "I almost gave it up--looked like I was through..you know you never know...it could be you." The song is meant to express the fighting spirit needed to overcome seemingly unsurmountable obstacles in life. Recorded in Nashville with Bryan Cumming, who put a great arrangement together,
including a Melodium part.