I am a sucker for a painful piano ballad. Hence, I have quite quickly developed a love for New Buffalo's new album, Somewhere, Anywhere. Sally Seltmann sings as if a heartbreak will simply destroy her, yet she sounds as if she’s callous and numb to yet another heartache. It’s a strange dichotomy, true, but it works. Unlike her debut album, Somewhere, Anywhere is stripped-down, vulnerable, and ultimately a moving and emotional work. The album’s standout track, "It's True," feels like an answer to the Beatles' "She’s Leaving Home," and is a painfully beautiful--if not ultimately enlightening--ballad of empowerment.
Listen To: "It's True"
In your album credits, you mention using a nearly century-old piano. It's an interesting fact, because the overall tone of Somewhere,Anywhere seems older, more antiquated, and a bit more mature. Do you think using this instrument helped set the mood for the creative process?
Oh yes, I think so. It's a very old, beautiful instrument and though I don't think it necessarily influenced my lyrics, it did affect the production tones I was going for. I love the wooden finish of the piano, too. It's just so beautiful. I wanted this record to be quiter than my first album, a bit more frank than my first album.
One thing that struck me was the lyrics have a deeper, more personal tone--almost cathartic.
I wanted Somewhere/Anywhere to be gentle. I wanted the production to be softer, and I wanted the focus to be on my lyrics. And I wanted the sound to be a bit more fragile, a little more delicate.
Was it a hard task, making simpler, softer arrangements?
Yes, very. It's funny--sometimes the more instruments and drums and other parts you lay on a track makes writing a bit easier, because you're working with pieces that can make a whole. With the way I wrote for this record, I had the idea I wanted it to be really simple, just me and my songs. It was extremely difficult to do. It's hard to write sometimes, because you think, "oh, it's just guitar and vocals." It's hard to make things sound good at first if you're not used to it. Making songs be more about the performance than the arrangements. Sometimes it's harder to make something simple than to make something complex--that's very true.
The one song that really resonated with me was "It's True." To me, it sounds like a reply to the Beatles "She's Leaving Home." It's an empowered song, and I take it to be about personal strength. It's also my favorite song on the record.
It's a deeply personal song, related to how I was reacting to a situation I was involved in at the time. To me, it was the key song of the album; I wanted to base the whole record around that one song. When I go to see an artist play, I am more drawn to them when they're more emotional and more open about their feelings, or at least write a song that has a lot of emotional depth. It seems more real. For me, that's "It's True."
Somewhere, Anywhere is available now on Arts&Crafts
Labels: Arts and Crafts, Interview Time, New Buffalo