Swan Song Series (Vol. 1)

by Tanya Donelly

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about

cover artwork: Pebbly Beach by Sue McNally


The Swan Song Series

An ongoing series of EPs made up of collaborations with various musicians, authors, and friends. Contributors so far include Bill Janovitz (Buffalo Tom, solo), author Rick Moody, Michael Hearst (One Ring Zero), Claudia Gonson (Magnetic Fields, Future Bible Heroes), author and musician Wesley Stace/John Wesley Harding, Brian Sullivan (Dylan in the Movies), author Mary Gaitskill, jazzers Joe McMahon and David Brophy (both Joe McMahon Trio), Kraig Jordan (the Masons), Manolis Famellos, and Dean Fisher (Juliana Hatfield Three). And also, some of my favorite players: Carrie Bradley (the Breeders, Edʼs Redeeming Qualities), Sam Davol (Magnetic Fields), Jacob Valenzuela (Calexico), David Narcizo (Throwing Muses), the English UK, Anthony Saffrey (Cornershop), Chris Toppin and Hilken Mancini (Fuzzy)

I sat down to write the blurb for this first volume (cleverly titled Volume 1) with a familiar shy anxiety that bubbles up when I commit to talking about myself. But it became immediately clear that this will be fun, because in blogging for these volumes, I get to write about the fabulous co-writers and contributing artists of the Swan Song Series, and the songs we all made together. V.1 consists of five songs, with some general thematic connective tissue: windows, streets, stars, flashbacks, escape. (Clearly, I need to get out more...)

Mass Ave, co-written with Dean Fisher (Juliana Hatfield Three, Dylan in the Movies, Bathing Beauties), with whom I have created many songs and two children. Dean is my most constant (and convenient) musical partner and trusted ear. I love the linear chug of this song, the forward motion. The lyrics came easily for this one, inspired by a strange evening of small but important moments. True story. Rhythm provided by David Brophy (drums) and Joe McMahon (bass), killer jazz musicians both, with Dean leading on guitar and Anthony Saffrey (Cornershop) contributing a beautiful and winding sitar.

Christopher Street, co-written with Wesley Stace aka John Wesley Harding, author (Misfortune, By George, and Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer) and musician (The Sound of His Own Voice, Songs of Misfortune, Here Comes the Groom, and so many others). The third co-writer of this song is Rob Seidenberg, who I haven't yet met and wish to. Wes and I are accompanied by the awesome English UK, made up of David Nagler on guitar and keys, Eddie Carlson on bass, and Adam Gold on drums. This song is a backwards-looking letter written to a composite of three men -- part true, part fiction.

Let Fall the Sky, co-written by Joseph McMahon. Beautiful piano by Joe, this is a heart-warming apocalyptic love song, sung as the sky literally falls apart and down. This one makes me feel good.

Blame the Muse, another co-write with Wes, and backed by the English UK. Despite the classic pop of this one, I imagine this conversation taking place a hundred years ago -- flowers in the river, cowering dogs, night rages, blown-out candles. (Also, this lady seems more patiently long-suffering than she might be today.) Lyrics for this inspired in part by Wes's Misfortune (the book), not so much in tale but tone.

Meteor Shower, written with Rick Moody, author (Ice Storm, the Diviners, Four Fingers of Death, On Celestial Music, and many other great things) and musician (the Wingdale Community Singers). There are only a few in this series with contributed lyrics by another and music by me, and this is one. Backed by myself on multiple instruments, and much elevated by cello played by Sam Davol (Magnetic Fields) and Dean on djembe. Growing up and grown-up, I’ve spent many summer nights (alone and not) lying on chilly East Coast beaches waiting for the sky to do something. The simple act of looking up (put down your device now) is an instant recalibrator. When Rick sent me the lyrics that became Meteor Shower, I felt that same shift.
Artist Sue McNally's gorgeous Pebbly Beach, the partner painting of Volume 1, might be a place where we all landed at the end of the night, faces up.

Hope you like!
peace, T

ps. Volume 2 comes out in early September, and V3 in early October. V2 will have two bonus tracks attached, as will V3.

credits

released August 6, 2013

Mass Ave (Donelly/Fisher)

Tanya Donelly -- vocals
Dean Fisher -- guitars, keyboards, percussion, vocal
Anthony Saffery -- sitar
Joseph McMahon -- bass
David Brophy -- drums

recorded by Christopher Cugini at Appleman Studio, Stoneham MA
and Paul Q. Kolderie and Adam Taylor at Mad Oak Studio, Allston MA

Christopher Street (Donelly/Stace/Seidenberg)

Tanya Donelly -- words and vocals
Wesley Stace -- music and guitars
David Nagler -- guitar and keyboard
Eddie Carlson -- bass
Adam Gold -- drums

recorded by Phil Palazzolo at Seaside Lounge, Brooklyn NY

Let Fall the Sky (Donelly/McMahon)

Tanya Donelly -- vocals
Joseph McMahon -- piano

recorded by Paul Q. Kolderie and Adam Taylor, assisted by Alex Hartman, at Camp Street Studios, Cambridge MA

Blame the Muse (Donelly/Stace)

Tanya Donelly -- vocals
Wesley Stace -- guitars, vocals
David Nagler -- guitar and keyboard
Eddie Carlson -- bass
Adam Gold -- drums

recorded by Phil Palazzolo at Seaside Lounge, Brooklyn NY

Meteor Shower (Donelly/Moody)

Tanya Donelly -- guitars, loops, keyboard, percussion, vocals
Rick Moody -- vocals
Sam Davol -- cello
Dean Fisher -- djembe

recorded by Tanya at Studio 24
with Rick’s vox by Michael Hearst at Urban Geek Studio, Brooklyn NY
and additional overdubs by Paul Q. Kolderie and Adam Taylor at Camp Street Studios, Allston MA

all songs mixed by Paul Q. Kolderie at Mad Oak Studio
and mastered by Eric Masunaga at Modulus Studio, Boston MA

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about

Tanya Donelly Boston, Massachusetts

Tanya Donelly is a Boston-based singer songwriter and guitarist, and founding member of Throwing Muses and The Breeders. She was also the singer and songwriter in the twice Grammy-nominated band Belly in the early '90s. As a solo artist she has released 5 albums (so far) under her name. Tanya lives with her husband/musical partner), two daughters, an old cat, and a young dog in Massachusetts. ... more

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