Richard Papiercuts – Reunion
Label: Ever/Never – e/n-071
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album
Released: 4 Mar 2022
A message from the artist -
Hello, friend. I hope all is well with you. I am writing to let you know that my new album, Reunion, is now available in a limited vinyl edition on the ever/never label.
After working with a backing band for the last two records, I decided to return to writing and recording alone in the studio, the way I made A Sudden Shift ten years ago, and the way I did for nearly 20 years before that. I started tracking for Reunion at the tail end of 2019 with my engineer, Gregg, at a beautifully appointed studio in Connecticut. That proved a slow and expensive process, and of course it ground to a halt when the pandemic struck in March 2020. I thought I’d make the best of it, start over and try fleshing out the songs at home on the Mac, so that when the world opened up again I would have a detailed blueprint for the album, and I could go back to the studio and track all of it quickly and methodically. Instead, I wound up making the entire record at home. Gregg’s mix and mastering job made these homemade tracks go bang, and thanks to his finesse, it is the best-sounding record I’ve made so far.
Last night when we listened to the test pressing of the album at e/n’s offices, a friend remarked that “Anita, Sing” is an adult contemporary track. I winced, reflexively, but of course, she was right: the song is based on the changes in Anita Baker’s “Real Love,” a perennial on AC radio, and the song is partly about Anita Baker. I had worked on the track for weeks and weeks, revising the lyrics, adding bits and pieces of piano and fake brass, and I guess along the way I forgot that I had set out to write an adult contemporary ballad.
Sam Cooke has been on my mind a lot these past several years, and he was on my mind when I made this record. So were Prince, Al Green, Luther Vandross, and Rick James. Not to mention all the wonderful, shameless Brits, beginning with Bowie, who fashioned improbably slick art music from strands of Motown, Stax, Philly Int’l, etc. — people like Mark Hollis, George Michael, Annie Lennox, Peter Gabriel.
Of course I was also thinking about the tumult and the horrors that enveloped us in mid-2020. It would be trite to claim that this is my COVID record, but obviously, those realities animated the making of the album, materially and otherwise. “Judgment” turned out like a song that Killing Joke might have made for a car commercial; “Night Beats Night” is a groove built from pieces of “Footsteps in the Dark,” “Careless Whisper,” and maybe “You Scared the Love Right Out of Me.” If they seem opaque — and they do even to me, at times — it’s because I couldn’t find the words to adequately express the rage and sorrow of those summer months.
It would be facile to say that the songs on Reunion are examples of “eighties music.” I certainly don’t hear any period effects, sonic or otherwise, and I’m not interested in nostalgia. It’s true, though, that “Alma” is based on a Motown groove that many musicians of the eighties, especially British ones, pilfered indiscriminately: The Jam, The Cure, The Pretenders, and The Smiths all had their way with it, to fabulous effects; and of course Phil Collins, who understood that in pop music there is no such thing as being too obvious, covered the whole tune and took it to number one (UK).
It’s also true that half the songs on Reunion have a modular architecture: discreet sections built up and layered in different configurations to create intros, verses, choruses, and bridges. This process, a distant descendant of cubism, was first applied to pop songwriting in the mid-1980s, when digital technology made it easy to move around chunks of a song and rearrange them, and it gave rise to the 12” remix boom that extended through the end of the decade. I confess that this period, which framed my childhood, is an affective ground-zero for me: that was
the music that first gripped me and shaped my sensibility, and I find myself returning to it instinctively in my middle age.
I hope this record finds a home with you and that you cherish it as much as I do. Sincerely,
A3 Anita, Sing
B2 After Hours
B3 Night Beats Night