THE SOLSTICE SESSION: On the day and the night of the Summer Solstice (2016), our “group” gathered in the Santa Ynez Valley, at Bear Erickson’s studio, to record what we hoped would become a new Michael On Fire album.
By this time, Michael had been performing with these musicians for more than four years, a couple times a year for a couple weeks at a time, at shows in California (Tompeet and Jack also joined him on extended tours across America.) Over the course of that time, Michael had gained a reputation as a highly improvisational artist, and his “California band,” as he affectionately called them, had shown repeatedly that they could go through any door of his choosing, and open new ones as well.
Our only real “plan” for the album was – elevated lyrical content. Despite our stated desire to emphasize the lyrics, the first song Michael pulled out was an instrumental piece he composed two days earlier. It was the first song they recorded and the first track on this album. Its’ calm thematic beauty set the tone for what would follow the rest of the night and through the next day. The predominant aim that took over the session, which was embraced by all, was simply – to be true, now; and fully present in the present. The result is a record that is alive and creative.
Some people ask – what’s even the point anymore of making “an album” when today’s technology allows you to put out songs whenever you want? The albums give context to the ongoing relationship between the artist and the audience. They help us “locate” the songs and recognize the musicians. We know “Queen Jane Approximately” from Highway 61, “A Day in the Life” from the Sgt. Pepper, and “When Will I Ever Learn” from Avalon Sunset. We know Al Kooper from “Like a Rolling Stone,” Billy Preston from “Get Back,” and Ladysmith Black Mambazo from Graceland. We know these songs and these musicians from those albums.
This is the sixth Michael On Fire album in seven years, and his 20th overall. It was recorded with the same musicians in the same studio and the same approach as his last album (Healing Waters) and yet it sounds and feels very different. It is the latest and the next step in the musical journey of an artist of uncommon creativity, vision and commitment.
released April 5, 2017
The Solstice Session
© 2017 Real Eyes Productions (REP056)