This Curving Track
Drinking in America
Where the Spirit Rests
WATCH & LISTEN
Where The Spirit Rests is the fifth solo album by the US singer-songwriter, who may be known to many from the Walkabouts, Dirtmusic or Distance, Light & Sky. Here Eckman dives deep into the mood of this extraordinary time. He sings of loss, disorientation, redemption and the search for a home. Where The Spirit Rests was recorded with only a small ensemble. Direct and without many effects. It was co-produced by British composer Alastair McNeill (Roísín Murphy, Yila). Guest musicians on Where The Spirit Rests are Chuck Johnson (pedal steel), Catherine Graindorge (violin) and Dream Syndicate / Green on Red keyboardist Chris Cacavas.
“Chris Eckman is one of the most underrated US songwriters. An artist who can turn a short story into pictorial lyrics,” the All Music Guide once wrote about the musician, who now lives in Slovenia. The album is Eckman’s most personal work to date.
“I didn’t play guitar very much in the last few years”, even before the pandemic Eckman had to face drastic changes in his life. Finding his way back to his instrument gave him support and hope: “From here, the first new songs were written. My new album started to grow.” Songwriting offered him a new perspective. A kind of lifeline. A way to get his thoughts and emotions off his chest. “There was no deadline. In the beginning I didn’t even have the idea that these songs could become a whole album” says Chris. “I wrote 20 songs in total, only seven of which made it onto the album in the end.”
These seven songs form a unit of seven short stories: “An inner dialogue between a person and his outer world”, says Eckman. “A narrow-minded voice like in the monologues of the Irish writer Samuel Beckett”. The narrator’s perspective, however, always rooted in the real world. “I wanted to keep it as authentic as possible, with dirt under the fingernails”.
The sound of Where the Spirit Rests is intimate and close. Eckman’s dusty voice and hypnotic guitar playing virtually draw the listener in.
When the basic tracks were finalised, Eckman invited various artists to add their own ideas to the songs in order to give them even more atmosphere. A calculated risk. “I got all the songs back within 4 or 5 days and didn’t have to change a note. They just complemented the tracks perfectly.”
Alastair McNeill laid down an unsettling synth drone under the song Early Snow and ambient country pioneer Chuck Johnson enchanted This Curving Track with pedal steel guitar. Eckman’s old friend from Seattle, John Hyde, contributed steel guitar sounds to Drinking in America, Eckman’s personal reckoning with the USA. Violinist Catherine Graindorge orchestrated Cabin Fever and the album’s title song. She brought in different, unpredictable timbres as in her work with John Parish and Nick Cave / Warren Ellis. Keyboardist Chris Cacavas, on the other hand, is responsible for the subtle gospel elements and Eckman’s long-term companions Blaž Celarec and Žiga Golob for drums and bass.
Where The Spirit Rests consists of patient and long songs. Like a grainy Super 8 film. One scene builds on the previous one. “I’m interested in how a story is told and from which perspective. The elusive details” says Eckman, “that makes it harder for me to control everything. I have to leave enough space for the music.”
Step by step and cautiously we approach a place where the spririt can rest.Where The Spirit Rests was released on Glitterhouse Records in 2021.