Fading Light

I really like a good closing track on an album. I like it when a band uses to the opportunity to use the last track, to end the album with a particular mood. Sometimes this is used to round off the contents of the album in epic style with a real show stopper song with lots of bells and whistles.

Off the top of my head, a few of my favourites are:

I also really like it when the last track on the album is a more quiet, sedate, laid back end to the album. Often this will be with a stripped back acoustic arrangement or something similar. Sometimes these songs are rough around the edges or recorded in a lo-fi way.

A few examples of this are:

As I’ve been recording more and more songs for my album Parkview, I’m starting to think about what sequence the songs I am making should appear on the album. I really like the sequence of songs on an album to have a flow and feel balanced in a way that it feels like the album is taking you somewhere.

For example, I wouldn’t put all my slow songs together, as it may mean that the listen gets into serious danger of nodding off. It’s nice to have ups and downs across the songs as it makes them work better together as a whole.

So almost as soon as I started writing and recording my song Fading Light, I knew that it was going to be the last track on my album.

I wasn’t particularly looking to record a stripped back lo-fi song in order to it put at the end of the album, however the moment I sat at my harmonium and started to pick out the chords to the song, it instantly felt like that is where it would end up.

Salvation Army Harmonium

Writing and recording Fading Light happened very quickly, which I was very pleased about. I had been struggling with recording a different song that I have been working on and off with for almost a year and I had’t really been very happy about the way it was turning out.

I had recorded 2 or 3 different versions of the song and I had just got the stage where I had decided that the reason I was struggling with it so much, was that it was in the wrong key. Essentially this means I was going to have to record all my guitar and vocals tracks all over again, which meant dumping all the work I had already done on them. This was a pretty grim prospect.

While I was waiting for the song to load on the computer, I started to just play a few chords on the piano and started singing a melody off the top of my head. I then moved over to my harmonium and played the same thing again.

I then tried some more chords for a chorus and once again came up with a melody almost straight away. I quickly recorded what I’d done into the computer and started work on the lyrics.

I decided that the best thing to do was simply to stop working on the song I had been having problems with and work on this new song instead. I can go back to the other song later, hopefully with a fresh set of ears.

As I had already decided that Fading Light would be the closing track on the album. I wanted the song to reference how I had gone about making this album, both in terms of the recording as well as in the lyrics.

My studio is up in the attic of our house. As I have mentioned before, it has a view out over a park. Normally when I am recording I try to make room as soundproof as I possible can in order to not record any background noises.

Studio View

For Fading Light I thought that I would do the opposite, I would try as much as possible to record the environment in which I have made the album.

I set up some microphones to record the sounds out of the windows. All the noises from the park, the cars, motorbikes and people making the way down the street outside.

I also recorded a big rainstorm, which would ordinarily mean no recording as the rain hitting the window panes is very loud.

As I recorded all the instruments and vocals for the track, I also had all the windows wide open in order to capture the environment I record in as best as I could.

I also decided to keep the instrumentation very simple, just harmonium, vocals and guitar. I also recorded some clunks and click that the windows make when you open and close them, these became the percussion noises on the song.

Lowden O23

Unusually for me, every instrument is a real instrument and nothing is virtual or computer generated. I certainly do love technology, but as Fading Light will be the closing song on the album, I though it would be nice to simple have real instruments that were played by me.

Once again I got the song mastered at Abbey Road and once again I’m very happy with it. You can have a listen to it here:

I hope you enjoy it,

Stephen.

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