All about "Love & Paragraphs"

Love & Paragraphs, my 5th solo album, was mostly conceived at my own recording studio, here at my house. This was something pretty new to me as I had always worked at other people's studios, for the simple fact that they always knew what they were doing!

However, I liked the fact that I could take my time with things and record literally whenever I wanted. Quite liberating actually.

With this in mind, there was a good degree of experimentation on this album as I simply had the luxury to do that. Indeed, I am even singing on this album. Well, just background harmonies. I certainly wouldn't want to put anyone through the pain of listening to me sing a lead vocal! But no one would NOT want to hear that more than I!

The title of this album came about after several emails from a good friend of mine in London. She was getting very 'wordy' during an exchange of emails and went through a period of writing very lengthy paragraphs. In my obsessive compulsive way I felt compelled to reply to each question she wrote to me. However, my responses were extremely short and to the point. Certainly nowhere near as verbose as hers!

So when I went to London a couple of years ago, she came up to me at a gig and said "You owe me more paragraphs!!". And so I signed her CD "With much love…& paragraphs - - Chris."

And I promised her I would do better in future….

And that whole episode spawned the concept of an album. The idea of a distant romantic relationship between two people and thus the title of this CD.

The album overall is much more 'pop' sounding than I am used to recording. This was certainly not intentional but simply how it came out. I approached much of the music a little 'edgier' this time round as I decided to put down my jazz guitar on much of the album and pick up a Fender Strat and get just a little earthier overall.
    1) Qwertyuiop
    This track is a funky mid-tempo, fun, yet quirky song. It's got a little Steely Dan quality about it with a strange verse melody, but kind of groovy pop chorus, somewhat of a relief after such an odd verse melody. Sax man Everette Harp helps out on this track.

    2) Love & Paragraphs.
    This is the radio single that seems to be doing very nicely all over the radio waves. I think one of the reasons this song works well is that I never wrote it with me in mind. I have a good friend called Mary Cassidy who was coming over to LA from London to write and record an alternative pop album project with me. Before she arrived I thought I might record one or two things so when she did arrive, I had some ideas to play her. I started layering all these electric guitar parts and I ended up with the skeleton of this song. I stepped back and thought "Hmmm…what if I put my guitar lead on this?" I played the song down once, had the melody and then thought to myself, "Sorry Mary, this one's going on MY album". When she did finally get over here, I had her sing a little ghost vocal in the chorus. And I think her voice really made the song.

    3) As Luck Would have It
    My friend and keyboard man Rodney Lee came to me with this idea and I thought it was interesting as it didn't feel like anything I had really done before. It's got a very bluesy flavour about it but it's really a very simple song. I dug in pretty hard on this track and there are plenty of imperfections in the guitar solo but I didn't really care as I thought the song felt so good. Besides, I'm less anal about these things these days, I think the 'funk' is often in the rough and readiness.

    4) Have Your Cake & Eat It.
    This was another track that Rodney Lee brought to me and the minute I heard it I liked it as it just felt so good from a groove perspective. I have been using a guitar talk box for a while now but I recently got a new one and wanted to try it out and I thought this was the perfect track to get a little funky and experimental. I ended up recording quite a lengthy talkbox solo on this and the entire solo made the record.

    5) Liquid Soul
    I discovered this song entirely by accident. I was holding a guitar synthesizer and I played a chord using a Fender Rhodes sound, then while that sound rang on, I struck a different chord on my midi keyboard, using the same sound. "Ooh those two chords sound nice together" I thought. That is the first thing you hear at the beginning of the song and it became the inspiration for the entire song. This is actually one of my favourite tracks on the CD. It's very dreamy and intoxicating and works because my playing is extremely restrained throughout. If I was to overplay just slightly, this track would never have worked. It's all very open and the idea is to take the listener on a journey. No drugs necessary!

    6) Ooh Bop
    This is another song I came up with in my studio. I found this little flutey, synth sample that you hear at the beginning of the track and I had an idea to write a complete song based on this one little sound that would continue throughout the entire song. That was quite a challenge as I could only come up with certain chords, otherwise there would have been a huge harmonic clash. Sometimes little constraints like this lead to good things. I added the vocal harmonies and made them become the hook. I think this song came out quite well, but to this day I am just not really sure what it is!

    7) CS In The Sunshine
    Something I scribbled at home. I wanted to write something with a feel-good quality and this came out. I had vocalist Jeff Robinson come in and double my vocal on the chorus and it had kind of an Earth Wind & Fire thing about it. Mostly it reminded me of the music KC & The Sunshine band would play back in the 70's. So I titled it 'CS In the Sunshine' to capture that time period.

    8) That's What I Thought You Said.
    Back in my 'fusion' days in the early 90's I would play Sambas, Bossas and bizarre indulgent jazz rock music. One of the songs I wrote back then was this, and I always had a soft spot for it. As I had never recorded a Bossa Nova until now I thought it might be fun to record this song and see how it came out. I added live acoustic bass and drums and ended up liking it a lot. So it made the cut.

    9) Qu'est Ce Que Tu Fais?
    I have been studying French for the last year, it has been a little hobby for me. There is still a long way to go but I figure it's got to be good to keep the brain cells in ship shape. This title means in English "What Are You Doing?" and was another song I co-wrote with Rodney Lee. It's got an old school 70's groove about it and so I thought it might be fun to have Jeff Lorber blow a soulful Fender Rhodes solo on it. It's an odd chord progression and I had to step up to the plate to sound good on it but I think I did in the end.

    10) Reflection
    At some point I would like to do do an album of romantic ballads and an orchestra accompanying would not go unappreciated. But back to the world of dreams! I do love playing ballads but I find I have to be in the right space, both mentally and physically to play them. A small intimate jazz club works well. Yet a big open air festival will just never work. So I have to pick my spots. But recording one on an album always gives me a thrill and in this case I wanted to get a little cinematic. And so this is what came out.
And that is really it. I hope you enjoy the album. I am very proud of this one. I hope to see you at a show very soon. Feel free to send me a note, just don't expect a ton of paragraphs!