Crows, Rooks and Ravens – the songs


crowsA year in the making, but it’s finally here. Crows, Rooks and Ravens is the album I co-wrote with singer-songwriter Andi Neate, released 19th March 2009. We started work on it in January 2008, and wrote/recorded around 25 songs, of which 10 appear on the album. It was a fascinating process, because Andi was in Edinburgh and I was in Bath, so we wrote all the lyrics online using Google docs, meaning we could update a lyric file separately or simultaneously. Inevitably it’s been a challenging journey, not least because Andi has never collaborated on a whole album before, and I have never written ‘remotely’ like this, but we both got a lot from it, and we’re proud of the result, and I think there are some finely crafted songs on there (but I would say that, wouldn’t I?!). The recording sessions took place in Bath and Edinburgh, with hard drives and musicians traversing Hadrian’s Wall by Parcel Force almost every week.

Andi and I started working together during the Burnsong project in November 2007 (see previous posts on the Vox blog) and decided to write and produce the album together a few weeks later. The demo process was as follows;

  • Initial MP3 vocal/guitar idea or lyric fragment emailed
  • MP3s backwards and forwards for a few iterations
  • Lyric sheet developed as a Google doc and edited throughout
  • I make a backing track and email MP3 to Andi
  • Andi sings a vocal straight to MP3 recorder, with the backing track in her headphones
  • Andi emails me this dry vocal MP3
  • I sync it up with the original backing track and create a demo, adding my own BVs and other instruments (and never pitch correcting – Andi is a fine singer and always does another take rather than let me ‘go digital’ on the vocal!)
  • We repeat this process a few times until we’re both happy with the demo, then we agree via email that the song is complete, and move on to the next one.

Sometimes we had three or four songs on the go simultaneously, which made things easier if a song wasn’t working, or we wanted to put one on the back burner for a while.

Here’s a video we shot during (a break in) the Bath studios sessions – an acoustic version of our song ‘Come Back Home’.

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