Ep. 91: Song “Brand New Life” (influenced by The Lumineers)

This week, I break apart a love song called “Brand New Life,” which I released last December on my album, Good Grief.

So, when I was putting the track list for my album, I felt like there was lot of intense topics covered. I wanted to end the album on a positive, upbeat note to balance it out a bit so this is the last song I wrote for the record. It’s about being in love and proposing and specially written for my wife, Melissa. I actually wrote a different love song and played it at our wedding about 12 years ago but I didn’t really think it was that great of a song. I was a bit rushed. So, this is my attempt at writing a better wedding song and I think it definitely tops the first one, at least.

I also talk a lot about water in the lyrics. There’s lines about crossing the river and walking towards the sea and watching the boats float by. It’s all kind of in homage to growing up near the water in Washington state. It carries a bit of nostalgia for me and there’s also something about how the water is peaceful and simple and I want to have that type of feeling in a relationship.

For my first attempt at the recording, I tired a really sparse approach with just acoustic guitar, piano, vocal and shaker. I was gonna go with just that but it sounded a little bit too serious or even contemplative to me. I started thinking about the Lumineers song, “Ho Hey” and like how it’s still pretty simple but there are some elements like the mandolins and percussion that give it a nice, upbeat and looser, folkier vibe.

I actually scrapped my first version and started over. This time I recorded a bit faster at 85 beats per minute instead of the original 80. The beginning starts with mandolin, acoustic guitar and a kick drum sound, which I played on a cajon.

I wanted the song to build so that with each section of the song, more instruments come in. So it would start spare but by the time you get to the end of the song, it sounds pretty full.

One of the first things that comes in is an organ, which just acts as a pad to fill out the sound and also provides some low end, since I chose to leave off a bass guitar.

There’s also the piano, which I pretty much played the same as the original version. I played really simple whole notes with the chords on the lower half of the piano, then played a simple solo about an octave higher right in the middle.

There’s also the percussion. By the end of the song, in addition to the kick, there are two tamborine track and two snare tracks played on cajon with almost sort of a horse trotting type of rhythm. It’s sort of a folkie sound that I think fits the vibe.

All and all, I think it came together nicely and I think it fulfills my goal of adding a positive, upbeat message to a somewhat serious album. Most importantly my wife enjoyed it so, mission accomplished.


What if we got together
We could watch the boats float by
You could talk and I would listen
And I would understand your mind

Oh I long to be with you
Walking toward the sea
And the times when I’m lonely
You could be the one to comfort me

Everyday I am thankful that our
Separate paths have crossed
Every night I lay my head down
I know I’ll never feel so lost

What if we crossed the river
We could start a brand new life
With a house and a family
If you’d only be my wife

So I leave it you now
You can tell me what you think
We could step to the altar
And I could wake up to your face each day

And my promise to you now
Is you’ll always smile me
Blessed day when I come home
In your arms is where I’ll be

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Ep. 26: Favorite Music of 2016 – Top Ten Albums

1. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

I’ve been a fan of Radiohead since OK Computer came out. I’ve eagerly followed along over the years as their sound has morphed and changed with each album and enjoyed watching and listening to the twists and turns. I must admit I was a bit disappointed with 2011’s King of Limbs but this year, they’ve redeemed themselves by once again reinventing their sound. It’s a great, soft listen with some beautiful moments incorporating Johnny Greenwood’s strengths as an orchestral composer with the string arrangements. Essential Songs: Burn the Witches, Daydreaming, True Love Waits

Stream: Spotify

2. Chris Staples – Golden Age

I first heard about Chris Staples back in 2014 when American Soft came out. It was a breezy, mellow, relaxing album and Golden Age is no different, continuing with a sound cut from the same cloth. It’s so pleasant to listen to and filled with so many great melodies and lyrics. He’s a great songwriter but also very tasteful and understated in his arrangements. Occasionally, the production is a bit more elaborate than his last album, such as a the string on “Park Bench” but on the whole he tends to stay pretty sparse and let the songs stand on their own. Essential Songs: Golden Age, Park Bench, Hepburn in Summertime

Stream: Spotify

3. The Lumineers – Cleopatra

On their second album, the Lumineers go for a bit of a sparser sound and fortunately, they’ve written a very solid set of songs that stand on their own and don’t require a very elaborate production. I love the echo-y sound on most of the vocals and instruments. Essential Songs: Ophelia, Sleep On The Floor, My Eyes

Stream: Spotify

4. Parker Millsap – The Very Last Day

I first heard Parker Millsap perform on Conan earlier this year. He’s got a powerful, soulful voice, especially for only being 21 years old. He’s a great songwriter who creates interesting melodies and arrangements. He’s put together a very solid and enjoyable album. Essential Songs: Pining, The Very Last Day

Stream: Spotify

5. Blind Pilot – And Then Like Lions

Blind Pilot knows how to make relaxing music. I first saw this band a few years ago when they opened for the Shins. The singer has such a smooth voice. I love it. Essential Songs: Seeing is Believing, Umpqua Rushing

Stream: Spotify

6. Wilco – Schmilco

On their 10th album, Wilco takes yet again another twist in their evolution and goes for a more sparse and immediate sound. The songs are very raw and it seems there was a conscious effort to keep them that way. I kind of think of it as the acoustic counterpart to last year’s album, Star Wars. Essential Songs: If I Ever Was Child, Cry All Day, Just Say Goodbye

Stream: Spotify

7. Kishi Bashi – Sonderlust

On Kishi Bashi’s third album, he takes the intricate arrangements from his debut and adds dancey, retro elements from the 70s, at times recalling Electric Light Orchestra. Essential Songs: M’Lover, Key Big Star

Stream: Spotify

8. American Football – LP2

This is American Football’s first album in 17 years and they sound like they are continuing right where they left off; with the same intricate guitar lines, drumming patterns and a unique sense of melancholy. It’s a welcome sound to return to with the state of popular music today. Essential Songs: Where Are We Now?, I’ve Benn So Lost for So Long

Stream: Spotify

9. Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”

On Childish Gambino’s third album, he ditches rapping for an entirely new sound, incorporating retro R&B and funk with cosmic flavor. It’s a bold direction and I’m loving it. Essential Songs: Me and Your Mama, Redbone

Stream: Spotify

10. The Head and The Heart – Signs of Light

They are back with another set of solid folk rock tunes. Although they take something of a traditional approach, it’s a very pleasant and welcome sound, especially the harmonies. Essential Songs: Rhythm and Blues, City of Angels

Stream: Spotify

Spotify Playlist of 25 Favorite Albums of 2016

Favorite Songs of 2016

Spotify Playlist of Favorite Songs of 2016