Most of the songs on these individual albums and the chapters in my book were written over the last eight years. All of my writing in that stretch seemed to touch in one manner or another on love, hope, and resilience. As I became ever more conscious of just how many common threads there were, connecting songs to songs and songs to book chapters and vice versa, the more I realized that everything I was working on was a single body of work. Seeing that “big picture” — and deciding to give it a bigger canvas, spanning four albums and a book — allowed me the room to explore different aspects of my writing and music in more depth than I ever have before on a single record. I worked a handful of carefully chosen covers into the mix, too — all songs that I felt reinforced the themes behind my project. I honestly didn't think about genre. I experimented with breath, vocal percussion, and instrumentation. This gave me the freedom to convey my songs in new and exciting formats.
I’ve always been a long-distance runner at heart, and like to think of Project 5 as a marathon: each leg is its own separate journey, but they all lead to the same destination.
The first two "pieces" of Project 5, the albums "Love You Strong" and "The Slaughterhouse Sessions," were both released in 2016. The second two albums, "Talk to a Human" and "Who is Ann?", along with the book, "The Girl with the Exploding Brain", will be released on Sept. 6th, 2019.
Project 5.1 Album: “Love You Strong”
Remixed, remastered, and re-released: 1/20/17
"Love You Strong" is a collection of songs that put the concept of love under the microscope. Love isn’t all hearts and flowers and it’s not just about broken hearts. Love is being there for someone in both sickness and in health. It’s the unspoken vows given in lifelong friendships. It’s the marriage of trust, loyalty, and convictions that stand the test of time. However, this isn’t an album of “love songs.” It's not a happy record. It's not a sad record. It's an honest record about stepping in and being there for someone when the world steps out. Musically, it’s very straight forward. We intentionally composed and arranged the music so that the songs didn't leave the earthy parameters of storytelling.
Project 5.2 Album: “Slaughterhouse Sessions”
My second album in Project 5 is an acoustic blues and gospel record. We recorded some of these tracks at a former slaughterhouse in El Prado, New Mexico. Now converted into an eclectic guesthouse for family, friends, and artists, it's a beautiful and inspiring place to visit and write. As an animal lover, I originally shied away from naming a record after a slaughterhouse. But the truth is, the title fit the music and subject matter. On this album, the groove made for a comfortable place to tackle uncomfortable subject matter like religious hypocrisy, war, poverty, and racism. We intentionally composed and arranged the music so as to create tension within the songs. In the end though, regardless of what I'm singing about or the music it's folded into, "The Slaughterhouse Sessions" is still about eventually arriving at a better place than where you began — be it mentally, spiritually, or physically.
Project 5.3 Album: “Talk to a Human”
We are in the digital age. There has never been more easy and efficient ways to communicate. So why is it so hard to talk to one another? To listen to one another? To celebrate our differences while simultaneously championing those that bring out the good in our society? "Talk to a Human" is my chance to dive headfirst into subjects that inspire me. It was also an opportunity to examine topics that cause me to question the kindness in my own heart. Can I forgive the unforgivable? Can I rise from my ongoing battle with my medical condition and the oftentimes crippling side effects? Can I stay kind and empathetic in a political climate hell-bent on warping my sensibilities?
Because the subject matter varied so much on this album, we are unapologetically all over the map musically. From rapping on a Latin-tinged folk song, to using breath as a percussion instrument on "Talk to a Human," we let genre go by the wayside and embraced what was in our hearts.
Project 5.4 EP: “Who is Ann?”
When Enigma burst on the music scene in the 90's with their blend of electronica infused pop music, I became hooked. They have remained an influence in my music; as has elements of rap, folk, country, and basically any artist that colors outside the lines lyrically and musically. From the pedal steel wizardry of Lloyd Maines to my own collection of loops and spoken word pieces, I hammered out a dream of mine. We created a collection of songs where the music is infused with vocal percussion and lyrics to create a mood that climbs from the bowels of depression from profound loss, to the steely reserve to move forward and grab the light. A light that must not be dimmed — especially in our current climate. For the past decade I've recorded bullies that prey on fear. Those that strive to divide. Those that distort religion for their own political aspirations. By recording snippets both on and offline, I looped the worst in our society. Why did I do this? Because I'm tired of their "song" and needed to write my own. There is no us versus them. There is just us.
Project 5.5 Book: "The Girl With the Exploding Brain"
This is an autobiography I've been working on since 2003. It chronicles my lifelong journey living with a seizure disorder while simultaneously crisscrossing the globe as a performing singer-songwriter. It’s a brutally honest book about the way I have dealt with the realities of being a performer with epilepsy. Part of the intention is to educate those who know nothing about the condition, but it’s also to let other people who have it themselves be able to read about my journey and perhaps avoid some of my own pitfalls — or to find positive affirmation about their own choices.