New album Broken Heart out this Friday!

This Friday I’m finally releasing a new, 7-track DIY acoustic album called Broken Heart! You can pre-save and pre-order it now.

This is a bit of a different direction for me, because I write a lot of songs about my relationship with music and following my dreams, because that takes up a lot of my time and emotions. Broken Heart, on the other hand, is a collection of unapologetically intense songs about unrequited love — pretty much crushes.

There are tons of relationship and break-up albums out there, but not as many about unrequited love. There seems to be a cultural belief that unrequited love isn’t “real” love and we shouldn’t feel too strongly about it, we don’t need to talk about it, we don’t need to care for people going through it the way we would for someone who’s gone through a break-up. That if you like someone who doesn’t like you back, you should just get over it. That you can’t truly have feelings for someone until you’re in a relationship with them. We view crushes as something childish that should only happen to preteens and teenagers. It would be great if that were true, but real life doesn’t always conform to expectations, and everyone’s experiences are valid.

For me, crushing and the daydreaming that goes along with it can honestly be a fun way to channel romantic feelings when I’m not looking for a relationship. Sometimes it’ll be a crush on some distant person, and sometimes I just choose not to express my feelings. But then there is that darker side, where you can catch more intense feelings. They can come on imperceptibly and really sting, and it can be difficult to move on from that.

I actually wrote these songs over a few years and they were always the songs that got put on the back burner because I wasn’t feeling them. I recently realized this was because I was embarrassed to have such strong feelings about unrequited love. But why? If we’re honest, all love and break-up songs are overdramatic – no relationship should be the end-all be-all that songs often make them out to be. But that’s human life. We have strong emotions about our experiences, and within our own story in our mind, they always loom larger than life. And no emotional experience should be viewed as more valid than another.

I still feel a little weird about releasing it, but I like the songs, I stand by the honest expression of my emotions, and who knows? Maybe I can inspire others to be just as open on the subject.

#7 Seeing Stars (“Coming Home” track by track)

I’m currently (somewhat belatedly) showcasing each track from my latest album Coming Home in a “behind the song” blog series. I hope some listeners find it interesting or helpful. “Seeing Stars” is the seventh and final track, which means we’ve reached the end of this blog series! But that’s okay, I’ll have more songs to release soon enough. For convenience, the lyrics and YouTube & Spotify streams are at the bottom of this post.

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This song is an interesting case because I wrote it as a frivolous little exercise and included it in the album on a whim, but then some people ended up really liking it.

I’m not sure if I’m actually going to keep trying to complete 50/90 (50 songs in 90 days) for years to come like I thought I might, but last year was my second year finishing it. At the beginning, I was in a bit of a depression/low motivation phase, and I always need to give myself a little push to get started with these things. It helps me to start by writing without pressure, like I’m just going to write this song, and I don’t care if it’s the worst song ever written. But then, I don’t try to write the worst song ever written, so you don’t know. It might be amazing. It might be terrible. That’s kind of the fun of it. And I’m not always the best judge of the finished product because I’m always going to judge my songs based on my personal relationship with them. How much did I enjoy the writing process, and how well does it express my personal thoughts and feelings? But those characteristics are invisible to everyone else, so there’s no reason they would like the same songs as I do.

So this is one of those songs that it’s hard for me to like because it’s subjective, and subjectively, I didn’t enjoy writing this song and I don’t necessarily love what I expressed with it. I didn’t enjoy writing it because I was in a low motivation state and had to force myself.

I suppose I kind of like the sentiment, and it is relevant to my life right now – a simple song about becoming disillusioned with your dreams when they don’t seem to be coming true and no one believes in you, but refusing to give up hope completely. But I tend to find my shorter, simpler songs more boring, even as everyone else prefers them, haha. I always wish for it to be more idiosyncratic and specific to my personal situation, even though I know that will reduce its potential appeal. But it certainly makes it fun for me to sing! Plus, I guess I perceive a certain cheesy factor in this lyric. The title makes it seem like it’s more about someone who was trying to make it in Hollywood than someone like me.

The other issue is that I dared to write a higher melody, which everyone else seems to like when I do it, but I hate singing high notes. It’s uncomfortable, more difficult, takes more concentration, is hard on my voice, and I don’t personally like the way my voice sounds up there. (Of course I don’t like my voice at the bottom of my range either; I think it sounds best right in the comfortable middle.) This is why, even though I agree that it’s a pleasant, pretty little song, I barely sing it live even when requested.

But anyway, for better or for worse the song is out there now and people can hear it and make their own judgment. I kept it acoustic when I recorded it. I would say that my favorite aspects of it are the simplicity and the little chord motif with the open B string that I play in the main progression. I do like the lyrics, but they don’t excite me the way some lyrics do – that’s the best way I can explain it. I respect everyone else’s right to love it if they want to, though!

LYRICS

You could see them in my eyes
In every old picture
Mirroring the night skies
A timeless, boundless fixture

And when I’d get my wish
I’d stay content for all of time
Though they say everything dies

Seeing stars, I was seeing stars

They told me to give up
Those lights were getting dimmer
I started to get stuck
They all knew I’d never be a winner

But nothing’s ever certain
So why can’t we just keep trying?
And everything might be all right

#6 I Don’t Love Songs (“Coming Home” track by track)

I’m currently (somewhat belatedly) showcasing each track from my latest album Coming Home in a “behind the song” blog series. I hope some listeners find it interesting or helpful. “I Don’t Love Songs” is the sixth track. For convenience, the lyrics and YouTube & Spotify streams are at the bottom of this post.

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“I Don’t Love Songs” is one of my favorite songs that I’ve ever written. It was another one that came together fairly quickly, and was written somewhat systematically. By that, I mean that I came up with what I wanted each part of the song to say before I wrote it, and then I carefully chose my words for each line. Without passion, that method can result in a very boring, lifeless song, but I adored the song’s concept, so I don’t think that has happened here.

In a nutshell, this song is about two things: first, it’s about my obsessive, unhealthy love for music. Second, it’s about depression. I was really excited about the idea of putting these two themes together in a song, because I don’t see it as being very common.

As many of my ideas do, this one came to me when I was just thinking about myself and my emotions. There are a lot of ways to describe depression, and anhedonia is often a big part of it. You don’t enjoy even the things that usually light a fire inside of you. For me, that’s music, so I can usually judge my mental health status by how music makes me feel. If it doesn’t affect my mood very much, then watch out. And I felt like “I don’t love songs anymore, I only like them now” was such a clear, concise, and poignant way of putting it.

I’m very proud of all of the lyrics because, for me, they are dripping with emotion and they paint a very clear picture. The latter is something I’ve had to work at, and I still do. For example, I was proud of “the scent of beer soaked pine makes me think of live music” and “sick to your stomach at that perfect mix of passion and purpose and harmony and rhyme.” Again, it’s that feeling that I’ve described something inside of me with absolute perfection. Even the lines that are simple and straightforward still feel to me like they couldn’t be anything else. That’s the mark of a well-written song.

Sometimes, when I really love the concept and lyrics of a song, I have a tendency to half-ass the music part, just procrastinate because I’m afraid I won’t do the song justice, and/or never be satisfied with it. None of those things happened here. I got right down to business, and even though, again, I wrote it very systematically, I thought it came out really well. The song is well-structured and there is good differentiation between each part.

Now, I can already hear the songwriting “experts” complaining that there isn’t much range to the melody. No, there isn’t. I don’t care. Range doesn’t make a song (or a singer, for that matter) good or bad; emotional expression and catchiness do. Also, I don’t know why some people say that “all hit songs” have wide ranges, when if anything it seems like it’s more common for them to have very narrow ranges, and people like Celine Dion and Mariah Carey are very much flukes. Narrow ranges mean everyone can sing along. It’s just about what you do within that range.

Anyway, I was careful to come up with a slightly more varied strumming pattern so it could be differentiated from the rest of the album. Then I only added simple harmonies (which I was pleased with) and kept it simple and acoustic. As I’ve said before, with limited production and arranging skills, it’s always better to err on the side of simple and unadorned rather than risk ruining a good song. Someday I hope to have more choices than just “simple and acoustic” or “ruining the song,” but I can wait!

LYRICS

The scent of beer-soaked pine makes me think of live music
Makes me think of a world of friends and the best days of my life
Makes me think of my inner power and of knowing how to use it
And of calming meditations and dreams bursting from inside

Music’s made me fall in love with everything
Again and again and again
It used to be my reminder that I was alive

But I don’t love songs anymore
I only like them now
And I don’t dream of open doors
Because I only wear them out

And I’ve always wondered how common it was
To get sick to your stomach
At that perfect mix of passion and purpose and harmony and rhyme
Because it happened to me all the time
It happened to me all the time

I’m not so happy with how these past few months have been going
But I’m not gonna lose my mind because I’ve felt like this before
It’s all gonna be okay because there’s a comfort in the knowing
That there’s always an ebb and a flow but I always come back for more

Music’s made me fall in love with everything
Again and again and again
And when it comes back around then I’ll come back to life