In October, I will be releasing the album Dry Run – the ‘Navigate Home’ demos. As those of you who have the 2009 album Navigate Home in their CD collections (or online downloads!) you’ll know it’s a fairly lush strings-soaked production with layers of backing vocals and harmonies adorning every track. But it began life in 2007 in my little bedroom studio of our rented cottage in Pembrokeshire in much simpler guise.
As my partner and I were getting ready to ‘up sticks’ and relocate to southern Spain I knew I wouldn’t have the time to complete a new album, even though I was writing a whole load of new songs at the time. So, I decided to record simple piano and voice demos, done live in the studio, no overdubs, to ensure I didn’t forget any of the songs I was coming up with. Then when I got to Spain I listened to the demos as a framework for the string and vocal arrangements and got to work recording the album ‘proper’. The Pembrokeshire demos were then largely forgotten about.
A couple of years ago I did have a quick listen to a few of them again, as I wanted to feature a couple on the Making Tracks rarities compilation, but I concentrated on songs which had not had a previous release. The actual Navigate Home songs, however, I didn’t reinvestigate.
Then earlier this year, while tidying up my studio in a bit of spring-clean madness, I found the ‘Navigate‘ piano and voice demos again and decided this time to sit down with a cuppa and have a proper listen, i.e. listen to the tracks with a critical ear, rather than a cursory one while working out arrangements for the songs. And I was pleasantly surprised.
What I was expecting were quick workmanlike runthroughs of the songs, but instead found some (though I say it myself!) very good and strong ‘live in the studio’ performances. It was obvious that I was very happy with these songs and wanted to give them their best shot from the get-go. I played the CDs to Neil and he agreed with me that the recordings, once cleaned up a little, deserved a proper release of their own.
As well as the 13 ‘Navigate Home’ songs I also discovered two others I’d forgotten about. In Your Dreams is a short, jaunty number, rather in the style of my 1973 song, Third Man, (and likely got left off the album as it wasn’t in keeping with the romantic nature of the others); Genius is a six-and-a-half minute epic, which I probably decided against including on Navigate as I already had two lengthy ‘epics’ with A Wardrobe Dreams and Miss Ashton’s Disappointment.
Dry Run will be released on October 10th 2011, and on iTunes will sell at a nice competitive price of £3.49 for the first three months of release, then in January 2012 the price will revert to £4.49, which is the usual price I set all my compilations and rarities collections at on iTunes. I’m not sure what price it will sell on all the other download sites, but on CD, which you can purchase directly from us via ‘John’s Shop’, it will retail at £3.50, with no price rise at all. The CD will come in a nice slimline ‘single style’ jewel box with a two-page booklet note written by yours truly.
There will be a video for Genius going up on www.youtube.com/kidinabigworld (my You Tube channel) soon, and you can now preview that track on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/johnhowardsongs – scroll down the page till you reach the Post for Genius, and press the Play icon to listen to it.
Hope you enjoy the album!