The main ingredient in this album is authenticity. To a population saturated with auto-tune, teen pop icons, and classic cover songs, I wanted to give something more. So I recorded the vocals and keyboard at the same time, as one complete take, without editing them. There is no additional instrumentation. All of it is coming from my piano as a live performance. It is important that you hear what actually happened- not the airbrushed, unattainable perfection that the media feeds us- because what actually happened is beautiful! Not because it is perfect, but because it is real.
For the additional layer of vocals in 2013, I waited until the day of recording to practice and compose any variations from the original vocals. I didn't want to give the songs any more time than that to speak to me. I wanted to capture what they actually said, not my edited versions of what I thought people would want to hear. This meant that when I messed up at the end of the song, I had to start over from the beginning. It was tempting to punch in and fix the error. Ultimately, I decided that if I couldn't actually sing the whole song a certain way, then I had no business pretending that I did.
I got the idea of having double vocal lines for every song after recording "My Way," which I couldn't sing without being able to follow the original vocals. After recording new vocals for"So High," I asked Matt to unmute the original vocal track and play the whole thing back. I couldn't believe how wonderfully the two tracks fit together! We ended up with two vocalists, who were actually the same person (sort of) from different times, singing together. Singing with my past self was a very powerful experience. I gained an incredible respect for her strength and passion, which carried me through a horrifically dark time. A lot of healing took place between the recording of these two vocal lines.
There are those who will say my songs are too long. I am not sorry that what I have to say has never fit in 3 minutes and probably never will. There are those who will say the music is too much or too little of whatever they think it is supposed to be. But the point was to transform suffering into something I can love, not to follow a formula people are comfortable with. I love these songs. This is not a commercial record for your mindless entertainment; it is a piece of art therapy. It is an expression of our humanity.
Here's what Matt had to say about this project: "To borrow one of your lyrics, it's like putting the sky on paper. If you look at the sky once, it will never look the same as it did in that exact moment ever again. The sky representing the vast expanse that is music and the paper representing a song in the exact moment that you looked at it. Each time you write a song, you put the sky on paper."
- Joanne Engel
released August 3, 2013
Produced by Matt & Joanne Engel at
The Explorer Studio in Des Moines, WA.
Vocals/Keyboard/Composition- Joanne Elizabeth Engel
Vocals/Keyboard recorded by Joanne Engel at home in 2009-2010.
Additional vocals recorded by Matt Engel at The Explorer Studio in 2013.