Missing The Boat
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Music, Lyrics and Sound Recording Copyright © ℗ 2018 by Scott Cooley. All rights reserved. All songs written, arranged, produced, recorded, mixed & mastered in Michigan, USA by Scott Cooley. Everything you hear performed by Scott Cooley, including lead & background vocals, acoustic rhythm, lead, slide & bass guitars, piano, marimba, ukulele, harmonica, djembe, snare, hi-hat, maracas, tambourine, congas, bongos, castanets, and not enough cowbell. Studio album released on June 21st, 2018 on Scott Cooley Records, catalog # SCR08, with CD packaging by Scott Cooley. Cover photo by Richard E. Cooley. Total playing time 51 minutes.
Background, Inspiration and Concept
This was recorded primarily between 2016 and 2018 as a an ongoing songwriting and recording project that included writing new songs as well as re-writing to improve older songs that were previously left on the "cutting room floor" as candidates for past album releases. As is typical with Scott, the process of revisiting older songs with a focus on improving them to make them release-worthy often sparks the creative process from which new songs are born. In this case, a theme began to surface wherein similar songs for a concept album were set aside. These sessions came during a time period of personal nostalgia for sailing, which came about as a result of the physical decline and eventual demise of two close loved ones, relatives with whom Scott used to frequently enjoy the sport - his father and a favorite uncle. In addition to revisiting fond memories, escapist thoughts crept in as a means of dealing with the grief. Therefore, this type of experience proved to be an inspiration behind the types of songs and hence, the concept of the album as well.
Composition, Lyrics and Genres
The compositions are tight, if one word could be used to describe them. Although there are a couple ballads and mid-tempo tunes, the rest and majority are up-tempo numbers that do not have a lot of space for instrumental breaks or improvisation. It worked out that the peppy melodies and musical arrangements are joined together with subject matter that includes warm temperatures, sunshine, lakes, oceans, boats, sailing, beaches, islands, surfing, vacations, fun, and love to produce a positive and powerful listening experience. The stylistic delivery of all of the aforementioned musical and lyrical content harkens back to Cooley's sophomore effort album, Lakeside Landing, which blended aspects of a lot of loosely-related genres to give it an overall "summery" feel. You'll hear hints of Caribbean influences - which you might want to label Hawaiian, tropical, island, beach, surf, calypso, or reggae, etc., in addition to the more typical "acoustic garage rock" style he's always been most closely associated with.
"Overall, this is one of my best albums, with possibly the highest overall average song quality consistency, even though it doesn't really have a standout song on it. It is the closest I've come to a real concept album, and to something that might appeal to Jimmy Buffett fans. I took the same general approach as I did with the Lakeside Landing album, which may be the one release of mine people seem to like a little more than others, only I one-upped myself. If this turned out to be my last album, I'd be happy, satisfied and proud because in several ways, this will be difficult to top"
Recording, Production and Personnel
Scott did all of the recording and production himself. He was also the only "personnel" to appear. In this regard, it was truly a do-it-all-yourself record by a true solo artist. As usual, the home studio in Michigan is where the magic happened, and it happened with as little trickery as possible. Put another way, as with the 7 previous releases, this one is as real and acoustic as it could be, with the use of live recording and microphones on acoustic instruments, while at the same time introducing more ukulele and piano than in the past and slightly improved effects processing. Whether it was determining the best song part arrangements, setting up the mic placement, editing and applying minimal effects such as EQ, compression, and a little reverb to each track, mixing the volumes and panning of each track, or mastering the final stereo mixdowns, Scott physically did it all himself and/or clicked things with multitrack recording software. The piano sounds admittedly employed the use of a MIDI keyboard rather than micing a real piano. Even so, Scott's fingers and voice made all of the sounds happen, like them or not! The plan for future recordings is to increasingly embrace technology for efficiency and accuracy's sake, at the expense of having it be as real and not "cheating," as has been the focus for these first 8 albums. While lovely wife Lenore was given a break this time around from her live-in session musician duties on accordion due to Scott's increasing use of keyboard, she was nonetheless consulted for her opinion on this batch of songs, which for the most part passed her test - a very important part of the overall Scott Cooley sound and catalog.
Missing The Boat - Scott Cooley Album Press Release
June 21st, 2018 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE from Grand Blanc: Michigan independent digital record label Scott Cooley Records is pleased to announce the release of award-winning songwriter and solo recording artist Scott Cooley's 8th full-length studio album, Missing The Boat. Containing 13 new original songs, it is available from Amazon in CD format, as well as in various digital formats from Apple Music, Google Play Music, Bandcamp, Spotify, and many more. For those who know the "Jack Johnson of the Great Lakes region" side of Scott (as he was once described), this one packages that up well as opposed to simply having a few of those types of songs interspersed here and there on other albums.
This album's conceptual theme features a more "Buffettesque" quality than recent releases, while delivering what fans expect - great songwriting, the acoustic-instruments- only thing, and the definitive singing and guitar playing styles. A totally individual solo artist effort, everything you hear is a result of Scott acting alone to make his vision a reality, delivering songs that while more on the positive side than usual, still bring you that rebellious attitude and very realistic outlook on life appreciators are often especially delighted by.
For newcomers to Scott's style, this collection of mostly up-tempo Midwest maritime rockers with Caribbean flavor are only slightly tamed by a couple of ballads. As such, in many ways it harkens back to (or is at least reminiscent of) the escapism that can be heard on Cooley's sophomore effort album, Lakeside Landing, released in 2006, which also effortlessly traversed between the nautical and tropical. Without a doubt, it has a similar overall escapist party vibe that is sure to lift your spirits and make you want to get back out on a boat on some water near you soon!
These tracks serve as the bread of the sandwich whose meat is a steady dose of emotions ranging from those you feel in romantic relationships to those you feel with close family and friends...on boats. These songs are obviously written from the perspective of a guy who you would think is in desperate need of (but so looking forward to) a well-deserved vacation, and all the adrenaline that goes with that. Life is never perfect, and this album uses hints of island, beach, and surf music to bring back fond memories of warm places from a cold locale in an almost misery-loves-company way you'll surely relate to and empathize with.
Upbeat acoustic rockers will get you revved up like an electric guitar song would, while the happy mid-tempo Hawaiianish and Jamaicanish tunes employ sounds such as acoustic lap steel slide, marimba and hand percussion to give you a sampling of an important part of the Scott Cooley sound, only this time leaving out the country and punk rock influences in favor of the Calypsonian if you will. The folk hints are certainly still present, however, which almost make these songs sound more like mento than true reggae.
Although quite pleasant and hopeful, buried in these simple, peppy tunes is a slightly subversive ugly-can-be-beautiful thread that serves to make it okay to feel depressed and wish for sunnier days in the course of expressing life's struggles and chaos. As a result, the listener is rewarded with a therapeutic release that will ease the worries of the mind. In turn, hearing about how bad others have it can make you focus on possibility of improving your own plight, so just as the blues can cheer you up, so too can Scott Cooley's unique brand of acoustic garage rock music. There's a freedom in this worldview that can become contagiously encouraging.
Missing is the Lenore Cooley accordion heard on past releases, but making more prominent contributions to the Scott Cooley sound are the increased usage of ukulele and piano blended with the staples of acoustic guitar, lap steel slide, acoustic bass, marimba, harmonica and sparse drums and hand percussion. So what you have is an album that is at once rough (with edgy guitar work, the homegrown DIY approach, and harshly honest lyrical perspectives) and polished (with the introduction of piano and improved effects application and mastering). To sum it up, Missing The Boat holds a place in the Cooley catalog where the fun is cranked to eleven, which is just enough of a dangerous departure from the usual fare to add excitement while still delivering the satiety for those craving the basic elements of the Scott Cooley listening experience they've become accustomed to.