A Thank You to the Re-Covered Band
The frenetic pace of album release activity having calmed down a bit over the weekend, I’m thinking about the amazing band that played on Re-Covered.
Mike Viola produced the record and played guitar. So beautifully and with rock power. And he kept the big picture always in mind so I could simply connect with the songs. It was Mike who had the idea of recording the album in a week at United Studios, all on 16-track 2” tape, and mixing the songs on Saturday. (We got 9 of the songs that way.) But what moves me the most is Mike’s harmony singing. We’re like brothers harmonizing on those songs.
Jake Sinclair wore two hats during the sessions, in his usual stylish and casual way. First hat: he recorded and mixed the songs. Days were long – days and nights, really – and Jake kept it cool despite the pressure. And for his own pleasure and the sound of the record, he pushed that tape to distortion whenever possible. Second hat: That’s Jake playing bass in his unmistakeably sneaky melodic style. I love the way he creeps into the gaps in the vocal with delightful counterpoint.
Daniel Clarke was new to me when we went into the session – a friend of Mike’s from much Ryan Adams touring, so I was happy to trust the call. And Daniel shone, with impeccable taste but also bold colors. Keyboard parts are the most risky to me, there are a hundred ways they can sound dated or cheesy. But the upside is great, too, and Daniel’s choices were surprising and inspiring, literally every time.
And then there’s Pete. Peter Thomas, long of Elvis Costello’s bands and with a massive list of credits on records that I own and love. Pete is one of the four or five drummers who most influenced my music over time, and that number might even be high. Jamming with him in various sessions has definitely had its surreal aspects – not because Pete is surreal! but because making music with him is, for me, like playing in the biggest of the big leagues.
Pete asked me going into the record if I would send him simple vocal/guitar demos of the songs we were considering playing. His idea was that this way he could learn the songs without referring to the original recordings. Thus we could avoid being influenced too much by them. I loved this concept and the result was defining for the album: Pete came with a groove or two for every song, usually quite different from the original versions. They were great ideas, and they allowed us almost to treat the songs as brand-new, all waiting for our fresh interpretations.
Six other musicians helped me create the last two tracks that completed the album. Brad Gordon and Sean Watkins played piano and electric guitar on “All Will Be Well,” and Brad arranged and played the amazing horn parts on that song. Brad has been my live show partner for many years now. On the piano, he often plays the parts that I would, if I could. Sean and my collaborations are well known to many of my fans – we’ve been appearing on each other’s tracks and each other’s shows since Sean played on my album Free Life, and before that, old Largo days. So it’s a source of joy to me that these two guys made their appearances on the record.
And along with Brad, Kronos Quartet helped me create the lovely version of “Someone Like You” that was the last thing we added to the album. I’ve already said a lot about Kronos, suffice it to say it was also a little surreal for me to record with these musicians whom I’ve admired from a distance for so many years.
So thank you all for your great musicianship and ultra-high standards, you kept me honest and elevated throughout. What a gift.