A more authentic experience:
The production of Angela McClure’s “Oh My Love”
When you get something creative started it is like building fire. There's an energy that's created that starts small and then builds into something much bigger and powerful. What we are trying to do in our work is capture that fire at its most beautiful, to create something that will cause the audience to straighten their backs when they hear the introduction. To make something that requires your attention and ultimately keeps it.
One of the things we wanted to do with this song was to get rid of the sound of the rhythm guitar, which has become so familiar in music. It becomes like wallpaper. It is just there, part of the song but not noticed. Yet, when it’s not there, it can be so much more interesting because we are used to hearing it all the time. This opened up so much sonic space for the piano and voice to breathe. With this song, that was very much the feeling we were after. We wanted to open it up, let it breathe, and let the melody be heard.
A timeless song requires a willingness to color outside the lines
Artists tend to get very narrow-minded about their music, where it should be played and what the genre is. They feel that country music is supposed to be this way or folk music is supposed to be that way. This reminds me of how people are often squeamish about food. I like this type, but I don’t like this type. It can get really rigid. But your tastes change and evolve. You grow enough and you have new experiences, and then all of the sudden you really like this thing you didn’t know you did. As a producer, my job is to get the best out of the artist, the best out of the song, and make something sonically unique to that project. To get people to try a new dish, but a new dish that has enough familiarity that it is not unpalatable.
One of the reasons I’m honored to work with Angela McClure is because she is always willing to try that, to unmake what she has made and try something different on a new recording. With “Oh My Love”, she has written a heartbreak song, but she has taken the time to get rid of any of the first emotions that come with that – such as the anger or revenge. The song has come to a place where she can open up her heart and share about it in an honest and beautiful way. This makes it more human to everyone who hears it. Writing a song is like making a wheel. It doesn't take much to get that wheel rolling, but the wheel itself has to be well constructed before any other thing can be added to it. If you make a good wheel, it will do its job and it frees you to be creative and work with the producer to find something even more unique about it, something that is timeless. Sometimes this requires taking the song out of its little nest and dropping it in the deep end of the pool. Angie will say, “Okay, let’s try that” and is eager to go down that path.
An authentic experience
For this piece, we wanted to focus on the refinement of a song, to get rid of what is common in the genre. After we agreed to that approach, I contacted my friend, Roberto Reggio. Roberto is one of my favorite arrangers to work with because he has such a wide palette, a sophisticated sensitivity to arrangement and stays out of clichés. We worked with the arrangement of the song in the studio with a piano, a stand up bass, a drum-kit, and a string arrangement. We were approaching it as a chamber-pop piece. We brought Angie in with the band and had the band play to her, which made it possible for us to get a performance in a way we could not have accomplished by having the singer isolated. In doing this, we were able to get this great collaboration through this blend of music that happened. Some of my favorite recordings were done in this old method - Astrud Gilberto, Rosemary Clooney, Nina Simone, the great recordings of them are done using a similar production method.
Throughout this work with Angie on this song, our goal was to continuously fan that creative fire --that willingness to color outside the lines, and by doing so, we believe we have made something that provides a more authentic experience – something that will really reach people, engage people, and move people’s hearts in the way music has the ability to do.
We will be releasing an article and video about the making of each of Angela McClure’s songs for her album over the next several months. Stay tuned and check us out. Purchase your copy of "Oh, My Love" at bandcamp today!