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MP3 Geoffrey Welchman - One Band Man

Folk-rocky blues, or acoustic pop/rock.

12 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Folk Rock, BLUES: Acoustic Blues

One Band Man, the long-delayed follow-up to Geoffrey Welchman’s critically-acclaimed debut album (Comfort Noise), has finally emerged.

“To quote the Rutles,” Welchman said with a sigh, “the first album was recorded in twenty minutes—the second one took even longer.”

The reclusive singer/songwriter, based in Baltimore, recorded his 10-song debut album (“Comfort Noise”) in a single afternoon session in 2001. One Band Man incorporates guitars, bass, keyboards and drums, as well as stunning multi-track harmonies, all performed by Welchman himself.

The former writer for such magazines as Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, People, and Might had long dreamed of just such an exercise in megalomania. “I’ve been playing solo for years now, so I figured the time had come.”

Recording began in February of 2004 at the Chicken Coop Studio in Fulton, Maryland. Returning to the boards was engineer Scotty O’Toole, who admits he didn’t know what to make of the new material at first.

“He built the songs from the ground up,” O’Toole said, “starting with drums, then bass, I didn’t hear guitar or melodies for three or four sessions. But he always knew where he was.”

The labor-of-love project ran into difficulties half-way through recording, when lack of funds forced a year-long delay. But when work resumed in September of 2005, Welchman said, “I just picked up where I left off.”

“What made it worth it,” O’Toole stressed, “was that he had a great bunch of songs.”

One Band Man’s range is startling. Opening with a courtroom confessional (“Life is a trial/and I plead innocence” in “The Trial”), Welchman weaves in english folk (the celtic-raga outro of “Is It Okay?”), classic 4/4 rock (“Wendy”), backwards-guitar textures in the psychedelic mashup “Unforgiven,” even bottom-heavy funk in “Fender Bender.”

“I always loved the variety-show feel of the Beatles’ albums,” Welchman said. “They took such care to make each song sound different from the last. I’d hate to stay in one groove for a whole record.”

His witty lyrics swerve from the Kafkaesque to the light-hearted, sometimes within the same song, such as “Crowd Control,” that opens with the quotable line “Weapons of mass destruction/cheeseburger and fries.”

“I don’t set out to be controversial, or topical,” Welchman said, “because I don’t necessarily plan to write what I write. I just tend to blurt out things that I’m thinking about. Songs like Crowd Control or Hildegard came very quickly.”

“Hildegard,” a surprisingly moving tribute to the 15th century German nun, author, and theologian Hildegard von Bingen, is another example of Welchman’s penchant for off-beat topics or approaches, such as assembling 21 rhymes for “ear” (“Here My Dear”). “It keeps it fun.”

While guitar and bass came naturally to him after years of solo performing and bass-playing with his early 90s band Big Bug, drums were a new challenge. He started playing them in 2002, and as he improved, changed his recording plans from having a session drummer to completing the entire “band” himself.

One of the first songs he completed is the album’s centerpiece, a serio-comic depiction of a nervous breakdown, “Out on the Road.” With a taut beat and a chunky acoustic groove, the song mixed wild west imagery and desperation. “I wrote that out in California, at a really rough time, a night where I tried to get in my car and literally drive out of my life.”

With recording comleted, the album suffered another roadblock—which lasted a full year—before the mixing of One Band Man began at Nice Package Studio, in Towson MD. After mastering, it goes back to Nice Package for replication.

And that''s that.

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