Wow, my last studio day of 2022 was the best way to wrap up the year. My sessions are always productive, but the amount of music we recorded in ten hours honestly blows my mind. This session was super special because we started all new songs. During the ten hours, we bounced back and forth between four songs. Rather than giving a play-by-play of the session, I’m going to talk about each song and pull back the curtain on what we recorded today. I had the most fun with Bob and Luke, so I’m excited to share the highlights and spill exclusive tea—or hot chocolate since I’m in a hot chocolate mood—about the songs.
My “If I Die Young” Cover
Since I’m in the process of writing and recording music, I need singles to release while I sort everything out for my new project. I enjoyed recording “Homecoming Queen,” so I thought it’d be fun to release another cover song next year. After going back and forth between a few options, I settled on “If I Die Young.” It’s one of my favorite songs to play at live shows. Also, fun fact, “If I Die Young” is the first song I covered with guitar at an open mic while I was in college. So, I decided to record this one.
Like with “Homecoming Queen,” my rendition of “If I Die Young” sounds very different from the original by the Band Perry. I changed the key and the chord progression in certain places, added a modulation, slowed the tempo slightly, and rearranged the song the way I envisioned it as an artist. I loved starting this one at my session today.
First, I recorded piano. In my rendition, it starts off with only piano and my voice then layers the other instruments as the song unfolds. I really enjoyed composing my own piano accompaniment. It captures my style and gives my rendition an original flavor.
Once the piano was recorded, Luke played acoustic guitar, bass, and electric guitar. As always, he did perfectly. He has a guitar solo that is stunning, and his riffs during the final chorus, where the modulation happens, sound incredible. The guitar and bass fit with the piano naturally. I can’t wait to hear “If I Die Young” once more is recorded.
My plan is to have Sophia record drums next. Then, I’ll go back to the studio for vocals. I want to wait until the drums are recorded because I prefer singing to a full track, especially when the song is dynamic and expressive like this one. Finally, I’ll get pedal steel recorded to wrap up the song. “If I Die Young ” will have all live instruments, so I can’t wait to hear how authentic it sounds.
So, those are the details so far for “If I Die Young.” This one will definitely be a single in 2023. I haven’t settled on a release date yet because I have to finish recording it first, but I’m really looking forward to sharing this one when the time is right.
The “Fantasy” Magic
I wrote “Fantasy” in 2020 and always play it at my live shows. My mom has told me countless times to record it, but it didn’t fit on the other projects I released over the past two years. Since I’m at a point where I need standalone singles, it’s the perfect time.
“Fantasy” is fully acoustic, like “Four Leaf Clover” and the acoustic version of “Will I Ever.” During the session, Luke recorded acoustic guitar and bass. He captured the emotion and atmosphere of the song flawlessly. Hearing what Luke did reminded me that it’s special to record acoustic songs every once in a while. Sometimes, acoustic guitar, bass, and vocals is all a song needs to shine.
I loved recording vocals for “Fantasy.” After playing this song live for two years, it was special singing it in the studio. Since “Fantasy” is acoustic, I didn’t want to do a whole lot with background vocals, but Bob and I came up with really great ideas. I added a few harmonies and ad-libs in places where it felt natural. Then, Bob had the best idea to sing “oohs” behind the lead vocal in the second verse and pre-chorus and at the end of the second and final choruses. I can’t get over how amazing those parts sound. The “oohs” bring a sparkle of magic that fits “Fantasy” perfectly. All of the choices Bob and I made with both the lead and background vocals were intentional, and for this song, less is so much more.
So, “Fantasy” is fully recorded. I’m delighted to announce that this will be my first single of 2023. I can’t wait to share more in the new year.
“Future of Yesterday” for My New Project
I’ve been writing a ton of songs for my new project. One of my favorites is “Future of Yesterday.” I enjoyed bringing this one to life during my session, and we almost finished it.
“Future of Yesterday” is acoustic-pop with light percussion, piano, and strings. Like with “Fantasy,” Luke recorded acoustic guitar and bass for this one. The acoustic guitar is a perfect mix of strumming and fingerpicking, and the bass has such a catchy groove that gives the song some rhythmic energy. The guitar and bass offered a starting point for Bob and me to build up the production.
First, we added drums and strings. Layering these instruments filled out the song while still keeping the production simple. “Future of Yesterday” has a message that is close to my heart, so I wanted to be sure the track supports that. After listening through the song, Bob suggested adding piano in some places. I loved this idea because I never pass up the opportunity to record piano. I didn’t have anything planned for piano ahead of time, so I just sat down and improvised with a very delicate broken-chord pattern. Bob said that what I was playing reminded him of a music box. That didn’t cross my mind while I was exploring, but as soon as he said that, I heard what he meant. The piano adds such a gentle touch to the verses and last chorus of the song. I’m so glad Bob had me play piano because I love it so much.
Once all the instruments were recorded, I went into the booth to do lead vocals. I didn’t explore background vocals yet, so I only recorded the lead vocals. Now that the majority of the song is done, I’ll be able to listen to it and freestyle different background vocal ideas to see what I like before my next session. Since “Future of Yesterday” isn’t too involved, I don’t hear a whole lot of background vocals. Still, there are definitely places where doubling, harmonies, and ad-libs would work.
Out of all the songs I wrote for my new project, “Future of Yesterday” stood out as a definite one from the beginning. Since my goal is to do another EP or a mini album, depending on how wrapping up writing for the project goes, I’m having to choose from many songs. More than half the songs I’ve been writing won’t be on the project. This selection process forces me to record songs that fit the project’s concept the best. I’m so glad “Future of Yesterday” is one of those songs.
“Kind Heart” is a New Gem
I love all the songs I record. Still, every once in a while, one shines extra bright. Those special songs that come from a whole other level of vulnerability and authenticity are rare. “Will I Ever” is the special one on Dear Diary, and “Halfway Outta This Town” is the gem on It Is What It Is. The moment I thought of the hook for “Kind Heart” that sparked the writing process, I knew this would be one of those rare songs. Fun fact, all three of these songs mention butterflies in the second verse. That’s definitely not a coincidence.
“Kind Heart” is a piano ballad. I spent such a long time composing the accompaniment. I selected so many suspended chords, and the piano’s ethereal dissonance holds a delicate beauty that mirrors the song’s tone. I wanted to play the piano perfectly in one take. “Kind Heart” requires a ton of expression, and that especially applies to the piano. After a few takes, I got the one I wanted. I love the piano so much, and I’m glad I dedicated so much time to composing, rehearsing, and recording it.
After the piano was recorded, Bob and I added bass and strings to give the song a fuller sound while allowing the piano to take the spotlight. The plan is to sing this song at my next session then get flute recorded, which I’m beyond excited for. I love the flute, and I’ve always wanted to learn how to play it. For this reason, I’ve been waiting for a song that would work well with flute. “Kind Heart” is that song.
Even though I’m still writing for my new project, I already know “Kind Heart” will be the lead single. This song is so close to my heart for many reasons. I truly can’t wait to share it.
That’s a wrap on my last session of 2022. So much got done, and I’m proud of all Bob, Luke, and I accomplished. The Vault is my second home, so getting to end the year recording new music was special. I can’t wait to hear all four of these songs when they’re finished, but until then, I’m writing new music and planning on getting back into the studio early next year. I’m so lucky I get to create my music in such a magical place. Here’s to more studio days in 2023!
If you’d like to read about my other sessions, head over to my studio stories and enjoy.