Heading into his fourth solo album Barry Saunders was "wanting to do new things, let my songs take on a new life". The result is 'Red Morning' an artistic collaboration with a leading record producer who introduced some interesting new flavours to the familiar recipe.
In a lateral approach aimed at bringing new sounds to the mix Saunders asked Fur Patrol producer and Mutton Bird guitarist David Long to help. It may not have seemed the most obvious idea to team one of New Zealand's leading country artists with one of its top rock producers but as the resultant album 'Red Morning' proves, it worked like a charm.
'Red Morning' combines the considerable song writing talents of Barry Saunders with fully realised arrangements which expose the subtlety of the music and playing that allows the songs to achieve their full potential.
For Saunders, who has self produced his previous albums, it was a liberating process.
"I was ready to be open, to give things away. David coloured the landscape" he said.
For his part David Long welcomed the new partnership. He and Saunders had never met but says, "I loved the songs so much. They spoke of tradition and I wanted to work at enriching them."
With engineer and co-producer Mike Gibson they were soon in the studio finding simple sounds that took the songs just one step in another direction without losing the essence of Barry's sound.
The result is an album that covers musical territory familiar to anyone who has listened to previous Barry Saunders albums but does so in a way that brings a wider range of colours to the music than on prior outings.
Opening the album is the first single 'One Red Morning', a melodic up tempo song featuring big guitar sounds from both Saunders and Long. Other songs include 'Amsterdam' which conjures up the feel of the famous seaport in its most romantic guise, 'Bay of Blue' in which the listener can 'hear' the sun sparkling on the sea, 'All Those Things' where the sudden introduction of a mariachi style horn is as surprising as it is pleasing and 'Rescue Me' a reworking of a Warratahs song which, with the addition of strings, is a full blooded pop ballad.
Throughout the album the warmth of Barry's voice and the conviction with which he tells his stories keeps the listener constantly engaged while throughout the music subtly changes mood with the character of each song.
"We approached this album treating each song as it seemed to want to be treated." said Saunders, "We just threw things up in the air to see where they'd come down."
'Red Morning' knew where it wanted to go - a place Barry wasn't aware of until he arrived there.
The result is a song by song journey from straight country via country pop and folk to blues.
The songs are a trip through Barry's reality; places he's lived and left, dark dreams, a mid life crisis or three. Some developed lives of their own and took him places he's still discovering others describe places and emotions in simple poetic language.
Besides his core band of Alan Norman and Caroline Easter, Barry worked with a wide variety of musicians on 'Red Morning', including Ross Burge, who contributed drums on several tracks, Clint Brown and David Donaldson on bass, Steve Roche on euphonium and trumpet, Claude Hooper on cornet, Winnie Winston on pedal steel and David Long who contributed dobro, mandolin, banjo and guitar.
'Red Morning' even includes a string section, on more than one song, with arrangements by Mike Gibson and David Long.
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Barry Saunders releases his new album Zodiac
Posted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 3:39 pm
As with his previous acclaimed "Red Morning" album, "Zodiac" has again been produced by David Long, with musicians including Long, Craig Terris on drums, Jules Desmond on bass, fellow Warratah Nik Brown on violin and backing vocals from Samuel Flynn Scott and Caroline Easther. The album was recorded at Trident Studios in Wellington.
"Originally it was to be four songs toward a ‘best of’ album, but the baby started to grow and we ended up with a new album." says Barry. "I loved the raw feel of the band and once again felt like the songs were moving somewhere. I have a version of The Phoenix Foundation’s Going Fishing. I love the lyrics and have turned it into pretty much a country ballad. I played piano for the first time on this album, also played quite a lot of electric guitar. The album has a good played feel to it and I’m looking forward to taking these songs out for a ride."
Zodiac tracklisting is:
Here Comes Tomorrow
Still No Word From You
Start Up Again
All Day Bay
Do You Believe? (Dark Horizons)
Walking New Year
First single from the album will be "Here Comes Tomorrow". To see the recently completed video directed by Wellington filmmaker Colin Hodson please click here.
Barry is currently working on a series of live dates to be announced in due course.
The album will be distributed physically by Ode Records and digitally by DRM.
Some comments in brief on last album "Red Morning":
"This album has classic written all over it" The Press
"A stunning return" The Dominion Post
"Red Morning is effortlessly wonderful" Sunday Star Times
"Saunders strongest album yet" Real Groove Magazine
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