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Footprints In The Sand (2024)

Out of darkness comes light.... After completing the cathartic "Dark Waters & Crystal Skies" in 2021, I had firmly decided the next album would be a lighter and more upbeat album - but where to start... 120BPM seemed a good place to start!

Well, being honest, there were a few starting points - (1) It was going to be a rock album, (2) Scott was away to college so I could record without disturbing anyone, (3) There was no "concept" so I could just compile songs as I went along and then place them strategically, (4) One or two rewrites of old lyrics but mainly completely new material, (5) I wanted this one in general to be a "feel good" album with a couple of slower tracks.

On the whole I'm really pleased with the results, I think it stacks up well and nice to get back to my roots without too much dark navel gazing. Truly a totally "solo album".

Released on 15th June 2024 - so click away, play, download on Bandcamp and contribute to that ellusive Freddo bar!


Track Notes:

Overall, like most songwriters, the themes in Footprints In The Sand are fictional stories founded on lfe experience with grains of truth in them. Let's face it, it's very difficult to write about subjects you know nothing about. This album was also interesting as the majority of songs wrote themselves. I'd have a starting point of "Right, I'd like this one to be a kind of (something) themed one" and the song went "Ehm, no. I think I'll flow in this direction". This in itself made the whole process of writing and recording Footprints more interesting and fun. Also my first chance to bite the bullet of what I deemed boring drum programming and explore possibilities. 

Scorpion In The Sahara
A kind of starting point as, knowing Iain was really busy, I wondered if I could write something kind of Peter Gabriel / Sting-ish on my own. This started with not one fretless bass line but 3 (because I can)! I then added rainstick, singing bowl, kalimba, digeridoo and anything else I could get my hands on - before adding guitar synth and some Moroccan chant vocals. One guitar synth sound was achieved by hitting the guitar strings on a synth setting with a beater. Overall, hopefully it evokes a scorpion crawling across the Sahara.

Like "Her Ghost In The Fog" with Long Earth, this song morphed so many times! It started off with some ambient guitar sounds on Headrush following seeing Simple Minds back in 2022. Anchored by a kind of Waterfront bass line.  Lyrics were modified a couple of times, the tempo was increased by 10BPM and even the title changed 3 times ( to the extent I cant remember what I originally called it). A song of longing and unrequited love.

Politician Smile
The concept for Politician Smile started in about 2020 and Covid was just starting. The unadulterated bullshit spewing from the mouths of Boris Johnston & his cohorts and Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland confirmed my view that you can tell when a politician is lying as their lips move. This then morphed a little with the extreme lack of compassion shown by contemporary politics. Quite appropriate in what turned out to be an election year. Just remember boys and girls, when the going gets tough you can always hide in a fridge.

Maybe Tomorrow
One of the very few songs where the lyrics started a LONG time ago - this case in Gatwick airport in about 2002. Radically rewritten but the sentiments remained. This was intended to be the one and only song on the album which involved another musician, in this case a collaboration with the immensely talented Kenny Duncan whom I have massive admiration for but, equally, who was my mentor in encouraging me to explore music way back when I was a kid in 1979. Timing didn't work out but hopefully an intended version will emerge at some point. This is dedicated to Kenny and to those I love.

My gift to the best bunch of friends anyone could have! To Robert, Lorraine, Dawn & Julia - honour satisfied! We are the Pentagram! Luv ya all! I took the concept of the strength of 5 true friends and related it to the 5 elements.

Footprints In The Sand
A pretty factual song, memories of Crete 2015, and fundamentally, a song of love. This was another "wonder what I can write without Iain's amazing drums". This time a purely acoustic song - and the first ever feature of mandolin in my recorded work.

Barbed Wire Kisses
Barbed Wire Kisses is loosely based on an argument in the car back in the mid 80's. The starting point was the title as love isn't always sweetness and light. A bit of a Thin Lizy-ish rocker this one. 

The Cell
There are a few ways of looking at The Cell but, realistically, it's a kind of narrative of being trapped both physically and psychologically when relationships are a bit bumpy to say the least. Tough lyric to work with but the music kind of wrote itself when I bought my Music Man guitar, the riff just flowed out.

Where Is The Laughter? (Alternate)
Interesting one this one. There were bits of the first Long Earth album "The Source" that I loved and other that I thought weren't quite how I imagined them when I wrote them. So I re-recorded this from scratch but retaining and hopefully lifting Ken Weir's incredible drumming and Mike Baxter's beautiful Rhodes piano line - so credit to them both for this. The Beatles had just released the AI generated track "Now and Then" so I adopted the same principle of EQ-ing out all the bits I wanted. Time consuming and laborious but I had the time. 

Leaving Neverland
Finally Leaving Neverland was born. The starting point was when I had a conversation with Julia back in late 2017 / early 2018 and I said "Maybe it's time I grew up and stopped pretending to be a rock musician" and her response was "Never grow up Peter Pan". I loved this concept and, since then, have gained peace by not becoming something I'm not but in channelling who I actually am. From initial concept, I really wanted Deni as the voice of Wendy Darling - so she sent me a voiceclip, which then sat on my hard drive as a WAV file for around 6 years. Great to finally have realised the dream - and, if I am going to continue being a rock musician, taking my little pixie pal on the journey.

Copyright Tangotunes Music 2024.


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