Monday, August 22, 2016
CD copies of "Second Chance," my sophomore collection of studio recordings, arrived in the mail on Aug. 20, capping an exciting growth spurt as a songwriter and musician.
I began writing songs for the album before the debut, "Comfort Zone," was even finished, in 2014. My friend and teacher Kev Wright listened to a couple dozen demos of songs and helped narrow the song choices down to the eight I could afford to record.
Kev's been a tremendous help throughout the process, starting with the remarkable improvement he's helped me realize as a guitarist. He also offered great suggestions on the music, lyrics and structure of the songs, and all his ideas made them better, I think.
Recording began in fall 2015 at Jason Botka's Skye Bleu Studios in Villa Park, IL. Jason was great to work with and also provided valuable input on accompaniment choices, arrangements and lyrics. Johnny Gadeikis came up with some great bass parts, and all the songs are built around the foundation of Luke Smith's excellent drumming.
Jason played mandolin, keyboards and harmonica on songs, and his wife Jen created beautiful vocal harmonies, especially on "Sand Castles." We brought in violinist Katie Bern, who played a wonderful track on "Could Be Heaven." (Note to self: Next time you write a song with violin, choose a key other than A-flat.)
I'm thrilled with how the songs and the recording turned out. Kev's teaching has improved my vocals a lot, and I write to my abilities with the newer songs. Five of the eight tracks are new songs. The old ones are "Sand Castles," "Act of God" and "America."
I especially like Kev's slide guitar on "Back To You." It's a haunting sound, and a really skilled touch. Kev said it was the quietest he's ever played a track, but the tone is crystal clear and there's no trace of fret buzz or any other noise. It's really beautiful.
I love all the songs, especially "Perfect." When you write songs, you love them all when they're finished. Only time will tell whether they hold up. I also like "No Tomorrow" and "These Walls" a lot. I hope listeners understand that while I wrote these songs to relate my personal experiences, I tried to frame the stories in universal truths. Hopefully listeners can relate the songs to their own experiences.
I appreciate everyone who supported the album through the GoFundMe campaign, especially Dr. Clare Slowik, Liz Slowik, Bud & Mary Jo Slowik, Mike Slowik, Tim Placher, Scott and Daina Kinsella, Andrew Ndoca, Terry Kinn, Debi Ross, Leslie Stachura, Jodi Wartenberg & Gregg Vershay, Colin Walsh, John Goins, Ellen Dooley and Mary Kay Hyett.
Special thanks to Steve Woltmann for taking such fantastic pictures for the album cover a year ago in Plano, where a "Superman" movie was filmed. "Comfort Zone" photographer Brian Powers actually suggested the location a few years ago. My daughter Hannah made some great suggestions to improve the album cover design. WTS Media printed the CDs.
I've mailed copies to all the supporters. I still have much to do, including making the songs available for purchase online. For now, if you'd like to order a copy contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll mail you a copy for $12. As always, visit the website, tedslowikmusic.com, to learn more.