Oklahoma songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist John Calvin Abney released his second album in as many years Friday.
The seasoned musician's latest collection, "Safe Passage," debuted Friday on Black Mesa Records. He released his previous album, "Coyote," on the label in May 2018.
To buy and/or listen to "Safe Passage," click here.
Abney has spent nearly 10 years in the studio and on the road, both in making his own music and in service to the songs of other writers, including fellow Oklahomans John Moreland and Samantha Crain, as well as Lee Bains III + The Glory Fires. Recently, he has also spent time scoring short films and documentaries between sessions and shows, according to a news release.
All his vast musical experience has honed his sense of what is essential to songs, and he also draws from a variety of influences: Brian Wilson, Sheryl Crow, Nick and Molly Drake, Tulsa Sound pioneer J.J. Cale, Japanese pop godfather Haruomi Hosono, virtuosic guitarist Molly Tuttle, and even acclaimed video game music composers like Shogo Sakai and Yasunori Mitsuda.
“I think I’m writing music that’s more in line with who I am as a person now. I think I’ve discovered closer to the idea of what my voice is,” Abney told in a 2018 interview in support of "Coyote." “It’s hard for me to pin down, but I just started feeling more comfortable writing over the past two records. I guess your voice is constantly developing, but I think I’m on the tail of what I think is authentically something that’s mine, instead of like a sum of my influences or an amalgamation of all the records I listen to. … I feel I’m starting to sound like myself -- and that’s a good personal indication that I’m heading the right path regardless of what’s going on.”
Abney was preparing to share the new songs on "Safe Passage" with the world, a tragic event altered the meaning of the album entirely, in name and in concept: his father unexpectedly passed away on the day he announced the forthcoming album release. Abney was left with the grief and deep confusion that follows the loss of a loved one, alongside a record full of new songs that began to take on new, broader meanings.
"For the longest time, I really thought this record was autobiographical,” Abney says in a statement. “But since the stark reality of what has taken place recently, I’ve realized that these songs are as much about those around me, including the aspects of life that keep us all from wanting to make connections with others or live intentional lives: loneliness, addiction, fear, worry. My dad was really troubled by these things but optimistic to a fault. I believe he wanted the same for the world, for everyone to have safe passage from these struggles and now, these words mean something much deeper to me than they once did."
To read my 2018 interview with Abney, click here.
Abney has several home-state dates slated on his fall tour in support of "Safe Passage," and I hope to have more on the album coming soon.