Songwriter Zoe Mulford works with British and American musicians to bring to life a set of unforgettable new songs.
About this project
I’m Zoe Mulford. I’m a songwriter, a singer, a guitar-player, a banjo-player, and a dual citizen of the US and the United Kingdom. For the last 10 years, I’ve been dividing my time between the two countries and drawing inspiration from the folk traditions on both sides of the ocean.
I need your help to complete a new album, my fifth. Its working title is Small Brown Birds. (All my previous projects have renamed themselves at the last moment before going to press. We’ll see what happens with this one.)
Work on the project has already begun. By contributing to the campaign, you’ll enable me to continue working with the excellent studio musicians and engineers this project deserves – and most importantly, you’ll allow me to keep up momentum and do it NOW.
What is this album about?
Trouble, mostly. Sadness, loss, winter weather, hope, consolation, and generosity. And some noisy neighbors. Also birds. I don’t know where the birds came from, but they’ve been showing up in my songs more and more in the last few years, even before I moved into a house overlooking a city park. Despite some serious themes, there’s also humor and playfulness in these songs.
The vocals aren’t ready to share yet, but here’s the album’s only instrumental track, recorded live as a warm-up:
The album will comprise about a dozen tracks. I wrote most of them. Like my 2009 albumBonfires, this one will include a good deal of clawhammer banjo and have a stripped-down acoustic sound that highlights my voice and lyrics.
Who else is involved?
The splendid English fiddler and mandolinist Tom Kitching is my main collaborator on this project, and the early roughs are sounding fantastic. Tom’s specialty is traditional English dance music, which he approaches with a wild Scandinavian verve. He’s also won acclaim on the British folk scene for his work with songwriters including Gren Bartley and the band Pilgrims’ Way. It’s been very exciting to choose and arrange songs to incorporate his particular style.
I’ve also been pleased to work again with percussionist Sam McEvoy, who enlivened my last album, Coyote Wings, with a variety of fascinating instruments, most of which I can’t spell without looking them up.
With your help, I will also be able to bring in a few of my favorite American musicians, including the magnificent cellist Michael Gilbert Ronstadt, who also worked with me on Coyote Wings, and the equally magnificent harmonica-player Bob Beach.
Most of the recording is happening in West Yorkshire under the expert hand of Brian Bedford. The guest musicians will record in the US and the whole thing will come together through the magic of digital audio.
What will these funds cover?
- completion of basic tracking
- adding harmonica, cello, and upright bass to selected tracks
- royalties to the author of one cover song
- mixing and mastering production of physical CD’s
This album is a labor of love and I will complete it as I am able, one way or another. With your help I will be able to press ahead and finish it this year, making my decisions based on how I want things to sound, rather than making harder decisions based on costs.
All of my previous studio albums have been partially funded by supporters, mostly in the form of pre-sales. These have been small-scale efforts at a few live shows in former hometowns, involving stacks of photocopied order forms. This time I’ve gotten organized to expand the reach to my entire far-flung community.
What I’ve got so far is very exciting and I can’t wait to share it with you. As the project develops, I’ll be posting sound bites and updates. Wherever you are on the globe, I hope you’ll join the campaign and see Small Brown Birds through to completion!
Risks and challenges
This is my fifth time going through the process of making an album. I’ve gotten good advice over time and built a list of service providers I trust, and I’ve learned a lot about how to make things go smoothly. However, I’m sure there are some mistakes I haven’t made yet, and mistakes generally mean delays so that we can get it right.