Photo Contest: winner’s work becomes album cover art

The new album has 8 songs. Clocks in at around 31 minutes.

I’ve been wrestling with the issue for awhile… “Is 8 songs enough?” “What’s more important, having 40+ minutes and an eclectic blend of musical styles, or 31 minutes of tightly-knit songs that represent a particular style?”

And yesterday I heard about an ’emerging’ trend (across various markets) of releasing albums with 6-8 songs. I did some research, and sure enough, people are rediscovering this idea. (It isn’t new.) Seeing someone else do it made me feel more comfortable with the idea. But at the end of the day, what feels the most authentic is putting out these 8 songs that play so well with one another.

This album features distorted guitars, heavy drums, and ukulele... a new genre I like to call "ukulele love metal" (Photo by Cheryl Birchard)

This album has changed shape more than once. Initially, it began as a collaborative project with my brother, Chris Birchard. Like Trip to Pine, for which he wrote all the words and I took care of the music side of things, this project started with him sending me lyrics.

Thing is, upon sending me a particularly magical poem, he unwittingly provided a central concept for the album, igniting my creative passion in the process. Suddenly, I had a clear vision of the “story” that we were co-writing. And songs started presenting themselves to me. In my sleep. In the shower. At the copy machine at work. It was all I could do to keep up.

Every time I turned around, I was hitting ‘send’ and firing off another completed song to my brother. Soon, we had at more than ten songs to consider. And I’d written about 75 percent of them. He told me that, in all honesty, it made sense to call this album what it had become; my album that he’d contributed to (as opposed to a fully-shared, 50/50 co-written album). I had to admit, he was right.

Now I’ve pared the album back to the 8 songs that tell the main story. I’m still working on finalizing the sequencing (song order). I could either follow the musical flow or the narrative flow. To me, it feels more important that the album flows musically. As a result, the story will be told in a non-linear fashion. When I listen to the album as a whole, I feel really happy; it evokes emotion and creates sonic environments that make me think of watercolors staining the page. So I guess in that respect, this album is already a success.

Still working on identifying the album cover art and finalizing the title. Still leaning toward the idea of “A Place Of My Own” for the title, incorporating some image of decay for the cover. An abandoned gas station or house. A beachfront shack. An old car. Something that harkens back to days long gone.

Can you help me, Gentle Reader? I invite you to summon your Inner Photographer and submit some of your original photos for consideration. If I end up using some of your work for the final product, you will receive photo credit on the back of any printed material (e.g., cd packaging) and on all marketing materials. You’ll also get credit in the liner notes of the cd, if/when hard copies are created. In addition, I’ll send you your choice of a free hard copy of the music on cd or provide you with a free download of the album. For more information, please contact me:

Can’t wait to hear from you!


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