This was a session I’ve been waiting for: adding female vocals to the Troubadour project. I leaned on my close friend Wendi Bourne, who has been a major part of all my recordings over the last 28 years. She has worked with me and her fellow Girls From Mars cohort Lauren Jansen on I Like Peanut Butter, Shake It! and Pearls, and also with Robbi Kumalo, most recently on Playground. Wendi is a superb swing guitarist and knows her vocal arranging skills as well.
With Lauren and Robbie out in the greater universe, I invited Annie Patterson, the third Girl From Mars to work with Wendi on this session. This was my first time working with Annie. I rehearsed on Thursday with them down near Landale and we worked out our ideas on Wendi’s porch. They did their homework, incorporating my ideas and adding theirs. This hand-held phone technology is incredible and made for today’s productive session.
We got started around 10:30 am at Kevin’s studio, and thanks to familiar relationships, we were able to get Annie and ourselves comfortable and we set to work. We had five songs to work on: Louise, Rosie is a Friend of Mine, How Legends are Made, False From True and Smokin’ Babies, the last one considered the ‘fun’ tune to end the session. (Yes, it was the hardest one.)
Kevin is wonderful to work with, He really is at home (quite literally, in his basement) with his equipment, his creative musical instincts and his warm and encouraging presence. We have always worked well together (RockRoots and more), and he is great with the players who visit his studio. It’s why he is good at what he does, beyond being a fine drummer.
Wendi and Annie set up with the vocal mikes in the studio and we set into the project. The communication between the women is really deep (why I trust them), and they had worked on some ideas ahead of time and we could refine the arrangements with Kevin and myself in real time. There were lots of trial runs, punching in on troublesome spots, on-the-fly improvisations and collective thoughts passed around and we came up with some simply wonderful stuff. Some will never make it to disc, but we agree that the object is to have it ready to use if we need it.
Their overall effect is to support my vocals, add some nice atmosphere to some sections and generally soften my sound. That’s exactly what they did today. They did it professionally. And we did it together as good friends. That’s as good as it gets, in my book.
Their voices are the cream in the icing on this project. There’s a great foundation with all the instrumental players but it takes Wendi’s and Annie’s warm, human voices to infuse my songs with that something extra. It’s the stuff I tend to listen to when I put on my old recording efforts. The human voice rules.
We finished up after four intensely creative hours, and we all split for home in four different directions. I continue to be heartened by my talented friends who support me in making music on this earth. I am blessed.
This is good stuff.