One year ago this week I released an album, love & blood.

I never actually posted a darned thing about it on this blog. I don’t know why, since I’ve never been prouder of a body of work, but that’s what happened. The album had a very good first year in the world.

love & blood is a narrative of my years with Charles, my husband and collaborator of almost a decade. He died in December 2014, and I still miss that mad man every day. And if we’d righted our ship’s course, if he were still alive, if I’d never been prompted to write any of these songs, it would’ve been a far more perfect world.

For songwriters though, this kind of subject matter is almost unremarkable. The stuff of life is a songwriter’s clay, and we sculpt it into four minute segments. If the Gods are with us, we do it well, and I think I did this time.

So much great music is released every year from indie artists—it’s why I’m really happy that love & blood got some recognition out there in the world:

  • First Place, Singer/Songwriter Alt Folk category in the International SongDoor Competition, for the song “Picture”
  • Finalist, Singer/Songwriter category in the Great American Song Contest for both “Picture” and “This Morning”
  • Finalist, Folk category in the American Songwriting Awards for “This Morning”

Here in Austin, fans cast enough ballots on my behalf that I made my way into this year’s Top 10 Austin Music Awards for Best Songwriter and Best Folk Act.

I swear to God, reviews for love & blood compared it to Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks, Joni Mitchell’s Blue, and the poetry of Leonard Cohen. I won’t lie: that felt pretty fucking good.

This, however, is my favorite phrase from any review:

jamsphere

That’s because this reviewer went past the music and dove into the album’s presentation. I’m proud of the songs, but I’m actually prouder of the way love & blood lives in the world—on a dedicated website intended to modernize the old-school album experience.

I believe in albums to my core—a sincerely coherent collection of songs.  And I hate to wax nostalgic, but I spent many an hour in my youth pouring over album covers again and again and again while listening to side A and then side B of any great album. I miss the lyrics and liner notes and backstories and artwork. I miss diving deep into the pool.

With so many tools available to us for creation, it just seemed to me that there had to be a way to offer an updated experience, digitally, in which the laptop or iPad or smartphone replaces the album cover. And that experience could go beyond liner notes and lyrics to include video, and essays, and lots and lots of art.

This is a crude little cartoon, but it better explains why I built a dedicated home for the album:

love & blood wouldn’t have seen the light of day without fans who rallied to support my Kickstarter campaign. Their contributions offset about half of the costs of recording, mixing, and mastering the songs. And their generosity allowed me to release the album as a free download (though contributions to the Karmic Tip Jar are incredibly appreciated and keep the site running).

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It only cost me a few hundred dollars and a few hundred hours to build the site itself. If I’d had a few million dollars, I might have wanted to film a major project along the same lines as Beyonce’s amazing, astounding, and fully-realized Lemonade. Yes, we’re talking about different genres of music (and different levels of talent) to be sure, but that’s not the point.

The point is that it’s up to artists at every level to decide how we want our work to enter the world and to make that vision manifest with the resources we’ve got. Why? Because it’s our job. Plus, it sure beats wasting time bemoaning Spotify, or piracy, or the demise of the good old days.

Fellow travelers, you’re cordially invited to have a listen and take a look, anytime your heart desires. And if you’re in any possessed with a fresh idea about how the world needs to see your art, go get ‘er done and share it liberally.

Let’s close with the lyric video for “This Morning.”