Well, what a year that was!
2015 started with a recording session. Oh Mercy supremo Peter Thompson and I spent two days recording a five-track acoustic EP. On day one, I recorded acoustic guitars and acoustic bass (and I couldn’t resist a bit of slide on dobro). On the second day, I recorded the vocals, and was joined by my sister, Jules, who provided some very tasteful harmonies. The five tracks were mixed in an evening. All that was left was to have them mastered by the brilliant Pete Maher (U2, Rolling Stones, Katy Perry).
I wanted to record these songs before I flew to the United States as they had all become part of my live set. The idea was to have a white label CD to sell at the gigs.
At the start of May, I popped over to Belfast to do a few warm-up shows. It’s one of my favourite cities. I always love going back to the land of my fathers.
On the 15th May I flew to Nashville, Tennessee. I spent a couple of weeks there, catching up with friends I’d made on my previous visit and meeting with publishers. Oh, yes – and I bought the most beautiful Martin guitar! I had a few shows in and around Nashville, and then on the 1st June, I picked up a Buick LaCrosse sedan and headed out on an 8-week tour that would see me lay my head to rest in 17 States – as far west as San Diego CA, as far north as Des Moines IA, and as far south as Montgomery AL. It was an amazing time and I met the most wonderful people in places such as Chicago IL, Kansas City MO, St. Louis MO, Omaha NE, Phoenix AR, Colorado Springs CO, Santa Fe NM, Dallas TX and Muscle Shoals AL. The American people were incredibly warm and generous; I sold out of CD albums and acoustic EPs.
After driving nearly 11,000 miles I finished off with a week back in Music City, co-writing songs with Nashville-based writers.
I had hoped that on my trip I might be inspired enough to write a couple of songs. As it turns out I’ve got more than enough for an album. Since coming home I’ve spent the last couple of months working on them, either editing or demo-ing them.
In 2016, I plan to record a full album of those US-inspired songs. In the meantime, there’s the release of the acoustic EP to finalise, and a video for one of the songs on it – Restless Celtic Heart – to be filmed over in Ireland.
And who knows, maybe a return trip to the US to play those new songs? I’d like that.