Some Sort Of A Homecoming

I woke up this morning to the realization that my new CD, “Heartland,” will be released in exactly two weeks.

Instead of boring you with what isn’t done (bio, press, pre-order, plane tickets), let me share with you a little bit about what is done, and what it all means to me. (Meanwhile, you can click here to preview four songs from “Heartland” while you’re reading.)

Most of the twelve songs on the record were written in the dead of winter. They’re almost all breakup songs. More succinctly, they’re “What Next” songs. They’re all songs about or related to matters of the heart. Which I’d identified early on in the process, way back in February when I wrote “Heartland,” and started thinking of it as a title track. Now, this is months before I resolved to actually travel to America’s Heartland — Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas — to make this record with The Heartland’s Favorite Son’s, The Nadas.

The record has something of a lyrical story arch. In short, the record passes through the anger, sadness, loss, and renewal triggered by any sort of heartbreak: love or death. It starts in the external (“Deserted part of a desert town”), then goes inward (“She’s light on her feet, but it’s heavy in there”). There is a whiff of optimism in the air by the time “Do It Again” rolls around. After all, what’s more optimistic than starting over? (Click here for a more thorough analysis of all twelve “Heartland” tracks.)

Though I spent two weeks on stage, on the road, and in the studio with the band, it’s not a Nadas record, or even a full-on rock record. “Heartland” has a sonic story arch as well. It begins big and fully-produced, then gets quieter and more intimate, before finishing with some confidence.

In the end, of course, this whole process has brought me closer to home: where I’m from, and who I am. I lived in iowa City for the first three weeks of my life, and have barely been back since. Next month, I’ll perform on stage at Que Bar, and on air at WSUI. That’s some sort of a homecoming. More importantly, these songs nurtured me through some very dark days. They taught me lessons. They saved my life. And gave me the strength and the courage to do it again.

I hope it does the same for you.

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