In early 2006, while on a long (and awesome) tour with Jared Woods, I was contemplating making my next full-length recording, and being influenced by the environs and experiences I was moving through. I had a solid group of songs that I had already polished up performing solo on previous tours, but I was also really excited by the sound Jared and I had going at the time and hoped to incorporate it as well. I had been traveling much of those last few years, and my new songs were soaked in the thrills, frustrations, rewards, costs, and general transience of the road. I wanted to make an album that captured that feeling. Somewhere near El Paso, we spotted a sign for a suburb called Horizon City; the phrase instantly felt resonant and I jotted it down.
A few days later, in an old friend’s gorgeous studio in Central Texas, using vintage microphones and recording methods and helped out by a visiting Shawn Simmons, Jared and I cut the first four songs for my third solo CD.
Beginning with those somewhat spooky duo recordings, the aesthetic we pursued was that of a live performance record, capturing the unmistakable sound of human beings playing and singing in a room together. Steven Collins, a multi-talented musician who performs under the moniker Deadman, engineered and produced the record at his own Troubadour Studio in McGregor, TX, and some talented friends dropped by to assist and perform during the course of tracking.
After Jared and I finished touring in April, I was able to augment those initial tunes with another couple over the summer. “Avalon” was a solo performance that Steven transformed with a climactic storm of electric feedback, and I was hoping to get Rose Polenzani and Austin Nevins to take a shot at “Sweetness” when they came through on tour. We cut that tune live and it turned out to be a highlight of the disc.
The final phase of recording commenced with the arrival of my longtime guitar man Patrick Porter and new friend, drummer Jeff Rogers, to the sessions. Over the course of two weekends late in the Texas summer, we recorded the remaining songs, mostly playing and singing everything live.
Near the end, several spontaneous, loose performances emerged to provide the final coloration for a record that, in hindsight, feels perhaps more like two or three separate groups of songs than one. A whiskey-and-candlelight vibe is strong on these last tracks, and they are probably the best representations of Steven’s style and the sound of the studio on the disc. Mastering was done in late 2006 in Dallas, and with that, the record was completed.
In February of 2007, Patrick packed up and journeyed once more, this time to Alaska to celebrate the release of the album in my hometown. Jared, Patrick, and I dressed up for the occasion, and performed Horizon City in its entirety (and then some) at Chilkoot Charlie’s in Anchorage, AK. It was a magical night for all three of us, and a great way to wrap up the experience.