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Creating the Freeway CDs (with Producer Paul Baggott)

[photo: St Augustine Beach, FL. By Frank Fleming]

The decision to create an album starts quite ordinarily, towards the end of 2012. I'm approached by Producer Paul Baggott (UK) who offers to tidy up a demo song leads to another. With a canny chemistry of creative-understanding, the collaboration gains momentum and there is no stopping us.

2012 might seem a good while ago now and 'finally to mastering in 2017', you might view as a long time to create a couple of albums, but to me 2012 feels like yesterday. How long it can take to get one song in the bag to perceive it as sounding ‘just perfect’. Working over the internet is a great way to work and has its challenges too in that, working in studio is a flick of the switch, whereas working over the internet is an email, a revised demo and a new look-listen, and then repeat. We are not compromised by time. Paul has the patience of jobe, his mission being to reproduce what the writer wants to hear, and by hook or by crook we continue on track.

While Freeway is in progress, I also have the pleasure of taking a look at two stonking albums with Tony Lowe; I spend two weeks of 2013 in the UK for recording sessions at Tony's studios in beautiful Dorset, on the album 'Human Sleeping - dreams 1 to 8' coming out with super reviews, in July 2014. The following year I submit some lyrics and backing vocals towards the symphonic progressive rock project 'esp-Invisible Din' released November 2016 and includes iconic performances by renowned musicians come household names in the world of progressive rock music, including not least, David Cross (King Crimson) and David Jackson (Van Der Graf Generator).

These breaks away from my little solo project Freeway prove to be very helpful. We are able to come back to it with fresh ears and eyes.

The Freeway (songwriter album)  takes the lion's share of time to complete, followed fast on its heels with Freeway - The Remixes, the electronic dance version courtesy of Paul Baggott’s excellent muse. Paul also does a magnificent job of keeping things separate so as to not create confusion while working remotely. First songwriter, then dance, and everything in its place... then - after braving lots of editing to the betterment etc - on to mastering!

We opt for separation mastering, whereby audio files are split into a chosen number of respective groups such as drums, bass, guitars, keyboards, vocals. Then are mixed into what are called stems. Then the stems are put together. This allows a lot more control over frequencies and levels per group so as to retain clarity and create the best stereo mix of the whole. We are well-impressed with the results - warmth and clarity, breadth and depth, good job.

Now - all set - but just one to present the albums to the a Double or two Singles? We are conflicted because although both albums are born of the same root demos, each album is best classed under a different genre. We decide first-off to keep them separate as two Singles, then we'll see.

Album titles. The track Freeway is chosen to be the songwriter album single, and so both albums take on the name, the dance version with the addition of 'The Remixes'. Freeway is also the first track on each album. Incidentally, it's the only track where song and dance versions sound similar. The Remixes really are a whole different kettle of fish, and so we decide to give all of them new names.

With the titles and distribution challenges sorted, now to the 'project backdrop'. How should the two albums be aired? Well...Freeway, is a musical poem about a coast road trip and - with all the name implies - it doesn't take long for imagery to unfold - of travel, freedom, sea, sky, beaches and horizons.

It all falls into place. We decide to present the songs as the imaginings and nostalgia of an open mind lost in thought on a beach somewhere having been lulled into an altered state by the ambience of the surroundings. Likewise with the remixes, with an additional inference of holiday and celebration. A poem inside the lyrics booklet introduces this notion. Still, we know, at the end of the day every song is an island for the listener alone.

Cover designs start off as the photo (top) - a shot taken by hubby Frank at St Augustine Beach FL. The skies and clouds are beautiful. The beach is almost deserted. A version of this pic might work for the songwriter album. However, it doesn't quite cut it for The Remixes. We need something generic.

With this in mind, Paul suggests a photo he's taken of a boardwalk in Tenerife. He creates cover artwork with a textured grungy feel and suggests blue for songwriter version and red for the remixes. Separateness and connectivity achieved, and a smart looking pair, these win in a walk and become the covers.

The two Freeway albums hit the airwaves 29th September 2017, are distributed through CD Baby, and both are receiving positive reviews.

Next, four of the Remixes tracks - Sine Wave, Driver on Whisky, Heart Dance and ROA Dance,  score featured status between 31 July and 17 September 2018 on Reverbnation.

May18th, 2018 the Double album of both arrives on the scene, though for download-only. New and orange cover too so as not to cause confusion. The Freeway connectedness triumphs in the end!

Latest! A Limited Edition Bundle of all three plus, is available while stocks last at Alison's Bandcamp Page.