Bloom – Ring and Oath

Imagine getting snowed in for a week. Also, imagine you are in a drafty old house built in the 1700’s. Now, finally imagine that you are there to record music with some amazing, fun loving musicians. Honestly it was a bit chilly but we made it work for us, even if there is the occasional audible sniffling mixed in to the recording. This was tracking week for Bloom’s second album, we had carved out a few days between semesters and we were hunkered down there to make something amazing. And we did!

Glendon has been a hub for the piedmont music scene for decades because of Laura Jane Vincent and her family. They have music festivals a couple of times a year and LV always reminds people that theres an open door and anyone is welcome anytime. For some people that is hyperbolic. For her, it’s an understatement.

To illustrate just how amazing of hosts Laura and her husband are, they were totally welcoming as my brother Dan showed up randomly one night with his trumpet to track parts at 2 am. He was on the holiday break moonlighting as an RV transporter on his way south for the week. He wanted to hang out so I told him I’d have a little work for him when he arrived. You can hear his trumpet parts on Love of My Life. When we had breakfast the next morning Laura Jane was just delighted with the sweet brass sounds she’d heard reverberating in the old house the night before.

In engineering, and mixing the brass, that distance and depth was exactly my objective. Dan stood at the opposite end of the house from the mic as I sat at the computer scrolling through the score, notes the size of mandarin oranges on the screen.

We decided on recording at Glendon because of the natural reverb and acoustic afforded by the tall ceilings. We also took advantage of the eclectic assortment of instruments available to expand the palate of Bloom’s instrumentation. Olivia agreed to throw down some lead parts on the hollow body electric to double the delicate subtlety of her Taylor classical nylon.

Bloom was my first band to record as a producer. I’m so proud of the mixes and the parts we were able to capture in the space at Glendon. They let me expand their sound from delicate coffee house folk to something you’d hear right along side Lera Lynn, Lake Street Dive, and the Alabama shakes. There’s a touch more soul, grit, and character on this then their first album…oh and a kitten.

Our favorite track – the title track no doubt – is Ring and Oath. We captured Julia’s Baldwin baby grand piano at her house and it was a part that is a featured touch of collaboration when Julia and I went back and forth humming ideas, scratching our way towards something that had a good swing and melodic sensibility. After our last day of tracking I asked Julia, Olivia, and Evan to say what they enjoyed most about our work together and what I could improve upon. Julia was proud of that piano work as it was an example of how I could work as a coach to bring better parts out of a musician. I couldn’t be happier with that kind of feedback. Sometimes producers get a little too in their heads (and egos) and just want to add unnecessary elements to fill in space. They helped me work against that tendency and we ended up with arrangements that are balanced, fun, and dynamic.

Bloom performed at Common Grounds on January 20 to share Ring and Oath on CD.

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