All Or Nothing
This wasn’t supposed to happen.
Truth be told I didn’t think this album would ever really exist. I reached a point at the end of last year where I truly felt as though my career as an artist had come to an end. This wasn’t in a negative, ‘oh poor me’ kind of way, but I honestly felt in my heart as though I might have seen my best and most successful days already and that chasing more of them was starting to become unhealthy and was beginning to not only hurt me, but also those close to me.
2015 was a bizarre year for me. The year started with the birth of my daughter, the single greatest moment of my life and a point at which everything changed completely for me. No longer was music a passion that I had managed to make a career of for five years, it was now something that had to support the life of another beautiful human being. That is a huge difference and one which made me reconsider a life and career as a touring and recording artist which isn’t for the faint hearted at the best of times.
The year ended in a way that couldn’t have been further from that moment of happiness. In October I lost my mother to cancer. Although she had been diagnosed for over a year, in the end it all seemed to happen so quickly, and I don’t think anything or anyone can really ever prepare you for that. Two months later I lost my father, who had also been suffering from illness for a long time and despite that and although we weren’t as close when he died as we once were (that’s another story entirely), you don’t expect to lose both your parents so close to one another. To say it hit me like a freight train would be an understatement.
So naturally, this seemed like a turning point in my life. I had lost two of the people who played such a huge role in my decision to pick up a guitar and start writing songs, and I now had my own daughter to think of and start caring for in the best way I could but by being present in her life and also providing for her financially now and for the next twenty-plus years.
Earlier this year something odd happened. I started writing music again. I know that might sound obvious but I’m not the kind of writer who just sits down and churns out songs all day. I need to be moved by something or someone, I need to have something happen in my life than warrants writing a song about, or that I need to write about. Turns out becoming a father, losing your parents and facing a life altering decision about your profession gives you plenty of food for thought.
I didn’t just write about the present, I also found myself writing about my past, about everything in my life that had led me to this point. Gone For Good and Out Of My Head are about falling in love and subsequently having my heartbroken for the first time 15 years ago. Don’t Wanna Go Home is a song for my oldest friends and the fun we had in our youth (most of the events of the song are embellished – something about getting older makes you more nostalgic I guess. Carry You is a promise to my beautiful wife who has been by my side for the last 10 years and is as responsible for any success I’ve had as I am. Mariposa, Borboleta is a throwback to how I felt all those years ago when we fell in love.
So these songs and this album are like a diary for me. They have allowed me to channel my emotions, my thoughts and my memories in a positive way and as such, this album wasn’t really a choice for me, it’s something I had to do.
My last two albums are a tale of two stories. Stay Who You Are was recorded in two weeks and rushed (through no fault of the producer or musicians who played on it). With the exceptions of songs like Unbreakable and Home (which mean a lot to me) many of the other songs didn’t have the same passion behind them as I would have liked and some aren’t even mine.
My 2014 album Living In Stereo allowed me to regain control of my songs and music. I moved to LA to write most of the album which was exactly what I needed after 12 months or so of post-Voice insanity. I was lucky enough to write with great producers such as Toby Gad, Justin Gray and my good friends Non-Fiction (Josh Cumbee and AFSheeN). I had a chance to try some things creatively that I’d always wanted to do. I’m really proud of that album and the success which songs like Untouchable went on to have, especially as it was a 100% independent release.
For this new album however I had to be back in New York. This is the place that it all began for me 10+ years ago. The place where I honed my songs and stage presence at open-mic nights for years. Where I waited tables in addition to a 9-5 job to fund my first album Something To Talk about in 2008. Where my daughter was born and I met my wife. Where I moved as a 22 year old to start a new life and find my identity. Essentially, my home.
I was lucky enough to find the wonderfully talented Chris Cubeta and Gary Atturio here in Brooklyn who have brought these songs to life for me in a wonderful way. We share so many of the same musical influences and have tried to include as many of them into the production of these songs as possible. When I listen back to the record I hear homages to Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Oasis, Jason Mraz, Coldplay and so many of my other idols. I truly believe that the combination of the songs and the amazing production Chris & Gary have lent to them has led to this being my best album yet. I am so proud of it.
Deciding to record an album isn’t an easy decision in 2016. It costs as much as the average annual salary and there is no guarantee that you might sell or stream a few copies. The industry just isn’t what it used to be. Any year in which I decide to make an album is a tough one financially. Add a now-18 month old into the mix and you will start to understand why the album, and the 60 date tour that I’m about to embark on to support the release are called what they are called.
‘This Is It’ said my idol Michael Jackson.
It might be, it might not be…but it certainly is All Or Nothing.