Recording in Isolation

When I write and, especially, when I record for a new album, I tend to do it in isolation. Meaning that I don’t listen to other music.I know it sounds odd that a songwriter and musician doesn’t listen to other people’s music. It’s like a writer not reading, which of course, is essential.

But while recording I don’t want to get overly influenced by others, especially those whose music I love. I want to avoid sounding in any way generic or derivative in my production and execution of the song.

This latest album, Treehouse, came from writing a whole bunch of songs for a forum called “50 songs in 90 Days” run by (which I didn’t get anywhere near to completing!) In late Sept I noticed that I had enough songs that I liked for a new album, plus I wrote a few more along the way.

So from October onwards I have listened to very little music other than my own, which has been very tedious for my kids as I do a lot of listening and tweaking while driving to and from school and activities. My musically picky 13 year old daughter is very handy in her criticisms on these rides! She is a huge music consumer (and I make her save up and buy her music!) so she makes up for me during these times!

Now I am done the CD (mastering gets done this week and then artwork gets sent to Now we can all start listening to other music and we are all relieved! First thing I did after giving the album a final listen before sending it to the masterful masterer, Hans DeKline, was find some Bon Iver and crank it up! Ahh… nice to hear a guy voice for a change!

And when I am done my own albums I tend not to listen to it much again, unless I’m assessing tunes for submissions. I move on to the next thing very quickly… although I have no idea what that will be right now.

I am going to take Dec off (yeh right!) and put up decorations and bake with the kids (gonna try!) and now I need new music to listen to… any suggestions in the alternative folk ish genre?


  1. Hey Helen.

    Congrats on the new album!

    What about The Gruff, Cat Power, The New Pornographers, Neko Case, Sarah Harmer, Dan Mangan, Gerry Barnum, Jon & Roy, Jets Overhead… they don’t all really classify as alt-folk… but I love them all. : )

  2. If there’s another pre-order special I’ll order a copy now, sound unheard 🙂 The cover is a fun one !

    I set up the stereo the other day for the first time since the move and your music was the first to be heard in the our new home.

    “Home” was playing when everyone else arrived back 🙂

    Best of luck with the new album !


    1. Thanks for the reminder about a pre-order. I will set that up soon and I will hopefully have the CDs in a few weeks… although the release date won’t be until first week in Jan.

  3. Really enjoyed having a listen to the songs off the website. Look forward to the CD’s arriving.

    All the best with the new CD 🙂

  4. enjoyed your Acoustic Cafe gig with my sister and nephew, you have new fans.
    Have you listened to Maria Mena? somewhere in between edgy and pop sensibility and also a “bad” good girl…
    Happy Holidays. Cheers.

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