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Inspired by the Modern Love Column in The Sunday New York Times, Singer David Lockwood Crafts a Hypnotic, Smoky, Compelling Collection of Songs
(Published: October 21, 2013)

Inspired by the Modern Love Column in The Sunday New York Times, Singer David Lockwood Crafts a Hypnotic, Smoky, Compelling Collection of Songs

A Tom Waits-Esque Storyteller Finds the Emotional Core of Each Columnist's Tale, and Sets it to Words & Music

Often Writing From the Female Author's Perspective, Lockwood Shares Lead Vocal Duties with Guest Artists

New Hampshire-based singer-songwriter David Lockwood has crafted one of the most distinctive albums in recent memory: ‘Modern Love', inspired by The Sunday New York Times column of the same name, is a collection of hypnotic, dark, compelling songs in which Lockwood has taken on the perspective of the column's various authors and transferred the emotional core of their essays into words and music. The result is a stunning, Tom Waits-esque sort of storytelling -- a restrained, mature approach that gives each track gravitas and resonance, and a musician's confidence that lets each song breathe.  

As detailed in his notes below, eight of the thirteen tracks on Lockwood's album (released 10/19) were inspired by actual NYT Modern Love columns, with additional tracks rounding out the collection in a thematically and musically consistent way. Many of the columns were written by women, and Lockwood found himself in the unique position of writing songs from their perspective, ultimately deciding to share lead vocal duties on multiple tracks to accommodate the female voice in a meaningful way.

Highlights abound on the album, from the powerful declaration of "Come Back Here" to the memorable, uptempo "Love Like This" to the beautiful, hypnotic "Not Your Way" to the female/male give-and-take vocals of "Tula" - Lockwood, who cites influences ranging from Randy Newman, The Band, and the hymn tunes of youth to Bon Iver, Joe Henry, & T-Bone Burnett, has a smoky voice that provides the perfect template for this storyteller's journey.


Lockwood provides more details:
In late summer of 2011, I was having my second cup of coffee and reading the Modern Love column in the Sunday New York Times as I had for a number of years. I found this particular story, "Once A Husband," so compelling that I couldn't get it of out of my head for weeks afterward. The next two essays had a similar effect. At some point that fall, I had the idea of writing a series of songs inspired by the stories, maybe even making an album. After contacting the Times and getting the green light from a legal standpoint, I started working on the music, mulling over more columns along the way. A year and a half later, I had a dozen songs reasonably ready for recording. Three of them were not inspired by a specific Modern Love story, but could have been.  

Although my previous album, Lucky Me, was predominantly autobiographical, I've written a number of songs from different perspectives over the years. In writing the songs for Modern Love, I had to figure out how to frame the story, whether to tell it from the author's point of view, someone else's, or in the case of "Tula," alternating between the two. Of the eight Modern Love columns I chose to work with, only one was written by a man. It was sometimes a bit of a struggle to find the right voice, the right key to unlock the lyrics. For "Love Like This," "Come Back Here," and "Gone" I found I could tell the story from the perspective of the ex-boyfriend, the husband in waiting, the spouse; for "He's Not Right For You," the mom could just as easily be the dad so that was a pretty a easy switch. Some other stories proved to be resistant to a change of narrators, and I wound up writing from a female perspective. That also meant casting the right singers for the recording sessions and wrestling with the possibility that listeners might find it odd to have lead vocals other than mine on a "David Lockwood" album.

I hewed closer to the facts in some songs more than others. The songs had a way of taking on lives of their own, and I took any number of artistic liberties for the sake of form, flow, rhythm, and the almighty rhyme scheme. In all of them, I tried to honor the central emotional truth of each author's work and if the factual details didn't cooperate, I'd tweak them or take another approach.

After I'd recorded the songs, I contacted the authors and sent each a rough mix. I was pretty nervous about this part. What if she hates the song? What if he wants me to re-write the last verse? What if a team of lawyers shows up at my door? On the whole, the authors have been wonderfully supportive and enthusiastic; the editor of the column has been as well.

Special thanks to the writers who shared their stories in the New York Times: Jennifer Baumgardner, Diane Daniel, Damian Van Denburgh, Teresa DiFalco, Deanna Fei, Sarah Healy, Aspen Matis, & Liza Monroy.

Song Notes Written By Lockwood:
Love Like This - Inspired by Sarah Healy's "When The Words Don't Fit," NYT 10/30/11
I wrote this from the perspective of the guy she met on a plane. Reference Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" in a couple of places as her column is about the illusions of romantic love. Ben Wisch surreptitiously recorded the guitarist Kevin Barry while he was warming up, saying "you never know what you might get." That became the intro.

He's Not Right For You
Inspired by Liza Monroy's "When Mom Is on the Scent, and Right," NYT 7/22/12
Fun, funky song with sassy backing vocals. Although the column was about her mom, a professional profiler with the State Department, it could be any dad talking about his daughter's choices in men. The bridge channels my inner Donald Fagen.
Not Your Way
Understated break-up song with an exquisite lead vocal by Jennifer Kimball of The Story and lyrical acoustic bass lines from Paul Ossola. It's not from a specific NYT column, but could be.

The Two Of Us
Inspired by Jennifer Baumgardner's "Just The Two of Us, When One Toddles," NYT 9/28/11  Originally a ballad, I changed the groove a bunch of times. It wound up with a stripped down, bar band sound that gives the song a more defiant feel. When I lined up Amy Correia to sing the lead, I didn't know that she and Jennifer Baumgardner knew each other from back in the day. They were both excited to connect through the song and the ML piece.

Stranger Passing Through
Third person narrative of a divorced dad and his alternate weekend with his kids. Moody, a bit wistful. Drummer Chris Marshak lays back for much of the song, then plays a U2-ish feel on toms coming out of the bridge that gives it a kind of propulsion to the end. Not from a specific NYT column.    

Come Back Here
Inspired by Aspen Matis's "A Hiker's Guide to Healing," NYT 5/6/12 -- "Cinematic" piano ballad. Aspen's story grabbed me from the outset, but for a while I wasn't sure how to honor it. I had a scrap of melody that I'd wanted to use for something, and it seemed to fit this song once I slowed it down and de-swung it. At some point I started writing from the perspective of her future husband, and that unlocked the lyrics. Aspen has a deal to turn her story into a full length book; she said she uses the song sometimes for motivation.

My Father's Ring
Inspired by Damian Van Denburgh's "The Spell of My Father's Wedding Ring," NYT 2/12/12   Damian's e-mail to me after I'd sent him a rough mix: "Where to begin? I guess I'll start with the basics - I love it! The close harmonies, the bite of the guitar solo, the wistful melodica at the end (I happen to be a melodica fan - blame it on Augustus Pablo.) Just a sweet, organic feel to the whole thing and a perfect complement to the burr of your voice. So nice. And that's just the music.

I was curious to know how you'd handle the material in the essay - if you were going to stick to a narrative line, say, as if for example the song would be set in my mother's apartment while she and I cleaned out my father's things. But you wisely stripped the detail away and created something that's yours as much as it is mine. I recognize the source for some of the images - but the work of distillation and transformation is all yours. And I love the structure with the leading line repeating in alternating stanzas. Makes a nice cyclical pattern - perfect for a song about a ring.

Modern Love
Instrumental that I think of as a "palate cleanser" for the album...contemplative, medium tempo track. Kevin Barry's guitar solo is a one-take wonder. 

Loosely inspired by Teresa diFalco's "In the Clicks of a Mouse, A Betrayal," NYT 11/6/11
Uptempo jazz waltz about "the other woman." Although the online element of the affair
is modern, the emotions are age-old. I wrote the verses as the "woman scorned" with her simmering rage and obsessive search for details, the bridge as the dissembling, self-protective man.

Keeping Me
Inspired by Deanna Fei's "To Keep but Not Be Kept," NYT 9/4/11
Piano driven ballad about a strong, independent woman who fears losing her identity as her relationship with a well known, successful photographer deepens. Erica sings this one beautifully; a particularly remarkable, soulful performance given that she'd had surgery for thyroid cancer a month before the recording date.
The 9:49
Medium tempo alt country feel with some outstanding dobro work by Kevin Barry. 
Not from a specific NYT column, but it's a "story song" that fits the concept of the album. I imagined a soldier coming home, but it could be about someone/something else.
Inspired by Diane Daniel's "Once, a Husband," NYT 8/21/11 -- This was one of the most powerful, affirming stories I'd read in the Modern Love column...knocked me out. I took a metaphorical approach to writing the lyrics, using some travel imagery. My piano demo for it was radically different from what the players came up with in the studio. They developed a sweet, half-time groove with cajon, acoustic bass, acoustic guitar, and dobro; I wound up taking my piano completely out. The accompaniment conjures up  "Astral Weeks" for me, especially Paul Ossola's upper register bass lines on the outro.

More Album Details:
All songs written by David Lockwood  © 2013 Azurine Music (ASCAP)
Produced by Ben Wisch, David Lockwood & Randy Roos
Recorded and mixed by Ben Wisch at Bailey Building & Loan, Ridgewood, NJ Additional recording by Randy Roos at SquamSound, Ashland, NH
& by David Lockwood at Little Blue Studio, Plymouth, NH
Mastered by Jeff Lipton at Peerless Mastering, Boston, MA
Assistant Mastering Engineer: Maria Rice
Photography of David Lockwood by Liz Linder

David Lockwood. Singer-Songwriter. Musician. "I was born in '51. My mom said I was picking out tunes on the piano when I was three or so, but I don't remember that. She had a flair for storytelling and tended to mythologize my childhood. I do remember figuring out 'My Country 'Tis of Thee' on the harmonica when I was five or so. It seemed like magic. And even after all these years of playing, writing, and recording, the creation of music still seems like magic." After high school and knocking around in New York City and DC in the1970's, Lockwood enrolled at Berklee College of Music in Boston and graduated in 1980. "I wrote and recorded a bunch of songs while I was at Berklee, sent out demos to publishers, got some songs signed, got some rejections. One of my favorite lines was 'You write interesting songs. That's a liability in this business.' " In the 1980's and early 90's, he wrote "interesting" songs for and performed as Little Davey and the Aberrations, and recorded three albums of original pieces for solo piano: Music From A Fall Afternoon, Diamonds In The Snow, and Blue Distance. "I recently retrieved the last two and converted to digital. I think they've held up pretty well, all things considered." He also wrote music and lyrics for two decidedly offbeat musicals: Awesome At The Academy and A Rash Act. A third musical, Free 2 Ride followed in 2007. Lockwood joined the NH band Straight No Chaser in the late 80's and wrote most of the material for their well-received debut album Raccoon Beach, released in 1992. "We had some quality gigs in support of that album... Newport Jazz Festival in Saratoga Springs, the Blue Note, White Mountain Jazz and Blues, and a bunch of others." In 1995, Lockwood got the opportunity to spend two weeks with his songwriting hero Randy Newman as he was recording vocals for his album Faust and beginning to write the score for Toy Story. "He was really generous, and even more wickedly funny than I thought possible. He was also very direct. When I told him I'd been struggling to write lyrics, his response was 'You got anything to say?' " Well, yes... Lockwood had and still has something to say. Through the 1990's, the aughts, and into the present, he has continued to write, record, and perform in and around New England while also serving as music director, baseball coach, and Dean of Pranks for Holderness School in Plymouth, NH.

Visit: www.davidlockwoodmusic.com

Upcoming shows in native New Hampshire: http://davidlockwoodmusic.com/shows/

More Information: http://www.davidlockwoodmusic.com

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