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Over the last 5 years, I have written and or recorded all my records at home. ‘Before Sleep Comes’ and ‘Innocence’ were both conceived and recorded in Kildare. ‘Tribe’ was written between Simon O’Reilly’s home and mine. And of course the dvd ‘The Man Is Alive’ contained a concert in my living room.
November 2007 I sat down with David Odlum to discuss the 20 songs I had to consider for the next record. David had mixed ‘Tribe’ in Black Box in France. I loved working with him. As well as a gifted and patient and creative engineer, David has great music in him, having been The Frames guitarist for many years. I felt we could make a great record together. And I had a lot of faith in the songs we were looking at.
We both agreed I needed to push the boundaries a lot more. The songs seemed to demand I move away from my comfort zone, and go to a large studio, with great musicians, where we would simply play the songs live together. Sounds obvious, but for many years I had recorded in a very safe, controlled way, wanting to always retain the feeling of my solo shows. This always meant people recording after me in the studio.
We decided to make a more traditional style record; great room, great musicians and singers, old microphones. We wanted to capture an honest, and hopefully beautiful performance of the songs. I don’t mind admitting that the template for the record was the sound on the Alison Krauss/Robert Plant record of 2007, ‘Raising Sand’. It seemed like a long time since I had heard such a raw, beautiful room sound. And we both thought, let’s try to record the songs this way.
It’s a simple formula, but quite rare these days; partly because it is really expensive, compared to the laptop in the bedroom records which are so common now.
So off we went to Grouse Lodge in County Westmeath, where we spent 8 fantastic days. We sang and played and laughed, and ate like kings. During that time we were joined by Dave Hingerty, drums; Trevor Hutchinson, double bass, Liam O’Maonlai and Paul Smith on pianos. Liam also played harp on one song and sang. Joe Csibi brought a string quartet from Dublin. Kenneth Edge came down with soprano sax and clarinet. Sinead Martin came and sang with me. Conor Byrne played some flute. By the time we left Grouse Lodge 20 songs became 15, and we knew we were on to something good. Over the next few weeks we added some vocals from Robbie Moore, as well as a visit to the Gospel Choir in Gardiner Street. Aoife Tunney was recorded for ‘Everyman’. Joshua Grange emailed us a pedal steel part from Los Angeles. And suddenly we were done by mid May.
So off we went to Black Box again, and over 10 days, 15 songs became 11. We were done and we were, and are, very happy.
Why 11 songs? Well I always seem to choose a title from a particular song. On this occasion, I felt it was important to honour the entire project, and find a name for the record that reflected the record. In 11 songs, I guess I’m asking people to take the time to hear the entire record. Obviously people will choose certain tracks to push for radio attention etc…… but for us, each of the songs is important, as is the order we chose to present them.
It has been a great adventure creating 11 songs, and I couldn’t love it more.
Off she goes!
Luka Bloom – Vocals, Electro-Acoustic and Spanish Guitars
Trevor Hutchinson – Bass
Dave Hingerty – Drums and Percussion
Liam Ó’Maonlai – Piano on tracks 4, 7 ,9 and 11; and harp on ‘Everyman’
Paul Smith – Piano on tracks 1, 5, 8 and 10
David Odlum – Electric Guitar
Joshua Grange – Pedal Steel on ‘I’m On Your Side’
Cora Venus Lunny – Violin 1
Jenny Burns – Violin 2
Niamh Nelson – Viola
Gerald Peregrine – Violincello
Strings arranged by Joe Csibi
Sinead Martin – Backing Vocals on tracks 2, 3 and 4
Robbie Moore – Backing Vocals on tracks 4 and 6
Aoife Tunney and Liam Ó’Maonlai – Backing Vocals on ‘Everyman’
Members of Gardiner Street Gospel Choir on tracks 7, 9 and 11
Choir arranged by Louise Fox
Kenneth Edge – Soprano Sax and Clarinet
Conor Byrne – Flute
Recorded by David Odlum in Grouse Lodge, Rosemount, County Westmeath, Ireland.
Dani Castelar – Assistant Engineer
Artwork David Sagarzazu at Pointblank – www.pointblank.ie
Cover Photo by David Sagarzazu – www.davidsagarzazu.com
Photo of Luka live by Bart Denolf – www.bartdenolf.be
Jane Skinner – Management – email@example.com
All songs © 2008 Luka Bloom (IMRO IRELAND/MCPS)
Everyman – In Memory of Pa Tunney RIP
When Your Love Comes – Inspired by John O’Donohue RIP
LUKA BLOOM – 'Eleven Songs'
With engineer (& ex FRAMES guitarist) DAVID ODLUM, Luka's aim with this album was to make a more traditional style record: that seemingly simple but increasingly expensive (compared to the "laptop in the bedroom/home studio scenario") formula of good/hopefully great songs; a great room to record in; great musicians and singers on board; old microphones… the intention and ambition to capture an honest performance.
In Luka's own words… "I don't mind admitting that the template was the sound on the ALISON KRAUSS/ROBERT PLANT record 'Raising Sand'." And I think we'd all agree that's a very fine example to be aspiring to! Luka is and should be justifiably proud of 'ELEVEN SONGS'. Whilst he probably didn't have access to the kind of studio's Alison & Robert used… his heart and talent is most certainly in the right place!
The Irish Times – The Ticket – CD Reviews Rock/Pop – Friday, October 10, 2008
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Luka Bloom's on his 12th album, and he's sizzling like a neophyte who's just discovered the magic in a newly minted song. Languid and unhurried, Eleven Songs continues on 2004's meditative Before Sleep Comes. Sure, there are traces of Bloom's trademark percussive guitar style and his political instinct on Fire, but the rest is a highly personal journey: fingering stillness and, most of all, what it means to live comfortably in one's own skin.
Acoustically, Bloom has created a space that serves his meditations well. With Trevor Hutchinson's bass, Liam Ó Maonlaoí's piano and Joe Csibi's string arrangements, this is a collection that doesn't so much assault the senses as infiltrate them, lingering long after the final note has sounded. A quietly triumphant return to his roots.