Nightfall London: the songs

Nightfall London was in production for some 9 months, mainly because I worked on it a little at a time, instead of blocking out a summer. My previous album, Matilda’s Flowers (2016), was a significant step forward for me as a composer, with seven original songs (out of 10). After finishing Matilda, the songwriting inspiration just kept flowing, but I never imagined I would write nine new originals for Nightfall London during the fall of ’16 & spring of ’17. 

My quiet-music recordings received a huge shot in the arm in Fall ’16 when SiriusXM added seven of my songs to their Spa (68) & Escape (69) channels. The airplay from such a major outlet was a tremendous encouragement to me as an indie artist. Nightfall London is the result.

Two early songs in the production of Nightfall were key to setting the mood of the album. I wrote the opening strings of Across the River as I imagined them to be played by the London Philharmonic, quiet & majestic chords resolving to gentle peace. The opening strings of the song Nightfall London went even further to reflect a tranquil elegance suggested by the album cover. The addition of choir voices to both songs added a near-sacred beauty which fit well with the overall direction of the album.

Inspired variously by the strings of the London Philharmonic, the ethereal voices of an English choir and the somber beauty of twilight over Big Ben, these are the songs of Nightfall London.

1. Across the River. While the river might be the Thames, as suggested by the album’s cover photo, there is another river which we all must cross at the end of our lives. As a Christian, I am sure that what awaits me on the other side is unimaginable beauty & joy, both in the constant presence of God & my loved ones who made that crossing before me.

2. Nightfall London. What became the title song is perfectly captured by the cover photo of the album: the somber beauty & stillness of Old London at twilight. This is the most “chill” song on the album & I love it.

3. Little Angel. A simple, lovely piano solo inspired by the headstone of an infant’s grave in an old mountain cemetery in Tennessee. The grief and heartache of her parents could only have been endured with the sure knowledge that their baby girl had been instantly transported to heaven and into the arms of Jesus.

4. First Love. Tender, innocent joy - the wonder of finding someone other than your family to love & to love you – first love is a truly amazing experience.

5. Tokyo Rain. An early song in the production of Nightfall, I briefly considered it for the album’s title cut. Traditional Japanese music is truly mysterious & beautiful, just like their culture. I challenged myself to write a piano solo that respected that culture by (mostly) using the oriental music scale, but without it being a cliché of Japanese music. I wrote it with the feel of gentle rain falling at night in the world’s largest city. The lovely night photo of Japanese umbrellas was the perfect backdrop for the CD’s liner-notes.

6. Beyond the Stars. Another simple song, driven by transcendent chord progressions. I took the song where I thought it should go, both musically and spiritually, into the heavenly realms beyond the stars.

7. In the Bleak Midwinter. The only cover song on the album, this classic English Christmas carol of devotion to the Christ child has been a longtime personal favorite. I love Gustav Holst’s gorgeous melody (and Christina Rossetti’s tender lyrics), and tried to give the song the gentle yet transcendent arrangement it deserves. Recording it a few days before Christmas 2016, I think being immersed in the spirit of my favorite holiday inspired me with this arrangement.

8. Hearts As One. A tender love song, this one written for my lovely wife Sandie. Romantic & gorgeous – the song & her.

9. Highland Rose. With my Scots/Irish roots, I’ve always loved Celtic music. It is simple but emotional, with typically lovely melodies. This is my effort to combine those elements into an original song, complete with fiddle & flute. Those same elements are in the Appalachian mountain music of the U.S., where I grew up, so they are very familiar & much loved.

10. Evening Prayer. I ended my two previous albums with traditional hymns, but try as I might, I couldn’t decide on a hymn to finish Nightfall London. Thus, my 9th & final original song on the album, an evening prayer of peace and gratitude to the Almighty for blessing my life with the priceless gift of music and the love of friends & family.