This is the first installment of a collection of love songs I've written over a period of about 15 years. For this EP, I tried to pick songs from each stage of my song-writing evolution. Given that the songs were inspired during very different stages of my life, I'm surprised how well these five songs actually ended up hanging together. Each song, in its own way, tries to capture the way that joy and pain often inhabit the same relational space.
A song like "Beautiful" that seems really simple and joyful still has an element of meloncholy in its premise. The title track, "Forever," is probably the closest to a purely hopeful love song. But, the intensity of the passion in the song stems from the precarious nature of the conversation that is taking place. The promise of committed, unconditional love is being offered, but it's not really clear if the offer is taken. This dynamic is even more overt in "If Only You," which is the oldest song on the EP and, therefore, projects some of the angst left over from my high school years. "Let me follow" is the newest song, reflecting some of the struggles of a more mature relationship. "So Many Words" is an interesting song in that it actually started out as a prayer. Over time it has taken on many different meanings for me. Sometimes it helps me connect to my deceased parents; sometimes it recalls my frustration over not being able to maintain the connection with some of my closest friends; sometimes it's about being in the same room with someone and still feeling like you're thousands of miles away form each other; and most recently, the song has helped me meditate on the experience of military families.
Overall, each song is a plea, or more of a fight, for love. They express a longing for love to live up to its promise. And yet, these aren't "sad" love songs. At least, I don't feel sad when I sing them. Hopefully, when people listen to them they will hear the joy and deep appreciation for real love that motivates my music. These aren't fairytales; this is real life where love can be difficult and frustrating and often unrequited. But, that's where the beauty is! It's in the persistence of love in and through the mess.
Musically, I have a lot of different influences. I like a lot of what we now call "neo-soul" and "Urban Adult Contemporary." But, I also like some of the mainstream hip-hop and techno influenced R&B, and I listen to more than my fair share of country and pop rock. But, ultimately, my sound is rooted in the Contemporary Gospel of the 80s (Commissioned, the Winans, Bebe & Cece) and the smooth R&B of the 90s (Babyface, Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight). I owe a debt of gratitude to my producer, Felix Mwangi (12th Note Productions) for indulging my preference for those eras without letting the arrangements degenerate into nostalgia. Thanks Felix!
Finally, a special thanks to my wife, Bernadette, who paid for these studio sessions as a 10th anniversary present last year. If it wasn't for her love and initiative these songs would still be languishing, half-baked on my computer. Instead, I now get to share them with you. Enjoy.