Today I am celebrating the 13th birthday of Ian McGlynn‘s Tomorrow’s Taken. It was the first album I produced. At the time, I only had the first two Dolour albums under my belt, both of which I had co-produced, but Tomorrow’s Taken (released in April 2004) was the first album I took full responsibility for the production.
Ian’s manager (and partner in crime) Chris Newkirk found my records through our mutual friend Jeanette Parks, and asked me to produce Ian’s first studio album. They flew me out to New Jersey to meet and spend the next few weeks in the summer, and then again in the fall, of 2003 living with Ian and working on the album every day. It was a record where we both pushed each other to stretch out. Ian allowed me to get very hands on with the songs, it was an atmosphere of pure creativity, and I think we really brought out the best in each other. Ian had previously been mostly a solo piano guy, but Ian’s taste in music was anything but “sensitive singer/songwriters,” so my goal was to put Ian in a position where he could make the most honest representation of his music. I opened up the floodgates to allow influences from everywhere to creep into the album. There’s is a lone piano ballad (Southard Park), but there is also – folk pop (How Did I Get Here?), Dr. Dre influenced grooves (The Exception), electronic Kid A-esque songs (Be My Guide, Here For Me), Tom Waits‘ vibes (Carnivalism), lots of Brian Wilson harmonies (You Might Understand), Dark Side of the Moon moods (Morning Prayer), and plenty of Beatles-esque moments (No Time and especially the closer, Turn Away). The album is mostly comprised of Ian on vocals and piano/keyboards, and me on everything else. I played guitar, bass, some additional synth, mandolin (on Be My Guide), and even drums on the record!
Once we finished tracking, and I brought the sessions back to Seattle for some tweaking, it was Jason Holstrom who really helped us reach the finish line with his great mixing skills, and over-all problem-solving expertise. What I lacked in technical skills, Jason more than made up for. Tomorrow’s Taken kicked off a long string of collaborations where Jason mixed everything I produced – including three Dolour albums (and tons of unreleased stuff), Sameer Shukla‘s There’s Only One Side Tonight LP, and both of my Traveling Mercies records. Jason and I were also contributing writers and players on United State of Electronica‘s debut album, which he mixed as well. Even though Ian was across the country from us, Tomorrow’s Taken felt like a key player in this “summer of love” renaissance era in Seattle.
Sometimes I forget what a huge influence the outside records I’ve produced have had on my own music. This album, at the time, was some of the most electronic/synth-heavy stuff I’d done. After finishing Ian’s record, almost as a reaction to all the programming and electronic sounds, I headed in a much more organic direction with Dolour’s swan song, Years in the Wilderness, and then my era with The Traveling Mercies all the way up through my most recent solo releases. But with my new project, Solar Twin, I know that a lot of the seeds that were planted 13 years ago on Ian McGlynn’s record are blooming again. So many of the production, programming and arrangement ideas I explored on this record are back in my life in a way that they haven’t been in over a decade. I’m so proud of this record, and grateful that I made a life-long friend in Ian. Give the record a spin today!
– Shane Tutmarc