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This week we put all the finishing touches on the 11 remaining tracks (down from the original 13 we were working on) and last night we finalized mixes to review over the weekend. We’ll all listen to the tracks in their (likely) final order and make sure everything sounds like it’s at the right level and tonally correct, make some final adjustments if necessary on Monday afternoon, then move on to the mastering stage on Wednesday. Mastering is the last audio step, and really sets the overall EQ and tone for the recording, as well as little details like the spaces between the songs and relative volume of each track. It’s a fairly mysterious process, really, but all I know is it always sounds a lot better after the mastering. It’s awfully easy to tell when someone has opted to skip that last step, too.

I was thrilled to have fiddle virtuoso Casey Driessen come in a record on a couple tunes on Thursday, and his parts add a whole new dimension to those songs. That dude is an amazing musician, and nice guy on top of that. I actually didn’t realize it until later that evening, but back in 2003 when Tim O’Brien’s Traveler CD came out, I must have listened to the song “Turn the Page Again” about a thousand times, and particularly the fiddle solos, thinking they were the most exquisite things I’d ever heard. And that was Casey! Crazy how things work out sometimes!

Will also came in on Friday and recorded some harmonies on a song that he had been singing in our live shows, and we sort of talked through song order and other final details. Will’s not not been in the studio for every part of the process, but I’ve been sending him versions as they progress for his feedback. He’s been a great collaborator for me. It’s nice to have someone who knows me and my music and potential who can push me and make suggestions now and then. Whether or not I act on those suggestions is another story, but I always appreciate the perspective!

I dropped review CD’s to both Will and Billy last night, and Chris has one he’s listening to over the weekend, as well. It’s turned out to be a really strong project, if I do say so myself. There’s some newgrass, there’s some electric blues/rock and some singer-songwriter stuff on there, and unless I’m mistaken that’s precisely what we play in our live shows.

The CD artwork is about finished, and we should be ready to send both the artwork and the audio files to the duplicator soon and get this thing finished up! Looks like a mid September release is more likely than late August, but that’s fine. We’re still setting up regional shows for that time frame, and we’ll just see what happens after that. Could be big!