The Lonesome Side of Town was conceived in a small church in Greenville, Michigan. Having been constructed in the 1880’s, the building found new life as a recording studio when it was purchased by my friend and fellow musician, Chris Ranney. In August of 2018, Chris and I spent a day tracking drums in the church with producer Michael Crittenden and drummer Rob Avsharian. Rob’s playing was solid and artful as ever, and he proved himself a good sport when our creative wanderings gave way to bossa nova beats and vinyl LPs on drum heads. As night fell, a line of storms approached the town, and we had no choice but to call the session. It was enough, we’d gotten the drum tracks we needed in a single day. We also captured the character of the church, who’s color permeates and shapes the entire record.
The Lonesome Side of Town was approached differently from my other records. On previous albums I performed in a recording studio with a band around me, all songs being tracked live. In making Lonesome, Michael and I agreed that I would record my parts at my home studio in Ann Arbor, while he worked at Mackinaw Harvest in Grand Rapids. We planned to work this way unless we felt a song was better served by tracking together at Mackinaw Harvest studios, as was the case with It All Sounds Like Leaving and State of the Nation.
Working as we did, I experienced much of the process alone. Michael and I would meet occasionally for sessions, but this was the exception rather than the rule. We constructed the record in this fashion, exchanging files at a distance. Michael had never worked in this way before, and I was thankful he was willing to do it. Production took longer than our initial estimates forecast, but that’s where I was at, I needed time this time around. Michael seemed to get that intuitively and was willing to let the pace of things unfold organically (i.e. “slowly”). My gratitude for this fact cannot be overstated.
In the winter of 2018, well before the project’s kick-off, my friend Tony Pace stopped by my home studio, and together we explored some of the ideas I was still working out for the record. Performances from that night’s session can be heard on The Things I Miss and Just For Two, on which Tony plays lap steel and dobro guitar respectively.
The Lonesome Side of Town is my third studio album, which is an auspicious number. The “rule of three”, or "omne trium perfectum" as it is known in Latin, is a principle suggesting good things arrive in threes. Perhaps there is some truth to this, as three proved to be a common number throughout the writing and production of Lonesome.
Three bass players played on The Lonesome Side of Town. James Simonson performed on The Lonesome Side Of Town, Both Hands on the Wheel, and Hypnotized, Chuck Bartels performed on It All Sounds Like Leaving and State of the Nation, and Daniel Ozzie Andrews performed all six remaining songs. Each player was chosen for their unique approach to the instrument and how well it fit with the songs, and all three players knocked it out of the park.
As with the bass, three pedal steel players also performed on the album. Both Nelson Wood and Drew Howard performed on The Lonesome Side of Town and Lonely. Drew Howard additionally performed on Both Hands On the Wheel, It Tears the Heart Right Out of Me, and State of the Nation, playing pedal steel and slide as well as electric guitar. Lastly, Justin Schipper recorded pedal steel on It All Sounds Like Leaving remotely from Nashville, Tennessee. I must admit, I have something of an unhealthy obsession with pedal steel, and I was really, really pleased with the final result this team of talented players delivered.
Michael Crittenden performed throughout the record as well, playing all banjo, mandolin, and organ parts, as well as piano, and both acoustic and electric guitar. Of special note is his doubled Stratocaster solo on Love Me Right. Cool.
Lastly, Chris Ranney, who is not just a friend and church owner, but a formidable musician in his own right, plays piano on Both Hands On the Wheel. Both Hands is a special song to me, and Chris treated it as such. The man’s got a gift.
Once all the mixes were in place, Michael suggested Pete Lyman at Infrasonic Sound to master the record. This was a pleasant twist for me, given that Pete has mastered many records which have been personally influential to me in recent years. Fate smiled and Pete agreed to take on the project, working his magic he brought both the bass to life and the space of the church into focus. He gave the record the depth and space it needed.
Both Robin Scully, who worked as project photographer, and Annie Capps, who did the design work, practiced diligence and patience with me as I floundered about on matters of album art. I decided early this time around that I would be on the cover of the record. That decision began a long and sometimes stressful process of not knowing - or perhaps not being able to express - what I wanted the cover to look like. At the 11th hour I realized what the problem was. I needed to not be on the cover of the record. It wasn’t working, for whatever reason. It took me months to see this clearly, however, once I let go of the idea of being on the cover, it was a mere five minutes till a quirky image of a trailer revealed itself in a Creative Commons photo search.
When making a record, I inevitably notice certain signatures that are part and parcel of the project - patterns or happenings that seem unique to that record - as if each album comes with its own set of lessons it has to teach. For its part, Lonesome had me getting in my own way, or rather, learning how not to be. The record seemed to want me to see reality clearly, even when reality didn’t match up with the way I thought things should be. There’s no better example of this than the songs themselves, which came more slowly, and were less accessible as compared to previous experiences.
The album originally featured twelve songs, whereas it now contains eleven. I circled for months trying different song orders in an attempt to reach a cohesive feel, but there was a particular song which didn’t sit right. I tracked the tune multiple times, but something always something felt off. In the end I removed the song from the record, and things quickly balanced themselves. It was addition via subtraction, and all ended well. But it took me a long, long time to get there, as was so typical of this record. The song was called The Last Thing.
When all is said and done, The Lonesome Side Of Town is a collection of songs that bear witness to a time of tremendous personal change in my life. Its songs testify to both the steadfastness of love, as well as its departure. Hopefully, the record serves to communicate the lessons, the struggle, and the beauty to be found in all of it.
You can pick up your copy of The Lonesome Side of Town here!
Americana Singer Songwriter Ed Dupas’ lived-in melodies unwind with reflective lyrics that speak to the current state of the human condition. Soothing where possible, agitating where necessary, and calling for change where appropriate. Ed Dupas creates and shares well worn wide awake music.
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