Winter 2012 marks the U.S. release of singer/songwriter Chelsea Crowell’s second album, Crystal City. To mark the upcoming release, Crowell was kind enough to do another interview with me. And her frequent collaborator/producer Loney Hutchins jumped in with his perspective. Crowell is giving folks plenty of places to give a listen (or watch a video) to her new music. My thanks to Crowell and Hutchins for their time on this email interview.
Tim O’Shea: I love the video for I’m Gonna Freeze, where did you find the archival footage to use for the video? Or was that present day video made to look vintage?
Chelsea Crowell: I don’t know, ask my favorite person to work with Colm O’Herlihy. I entrust him with whatever and he never fails. Plus part of it is that it’s a surprise for me too. He is one of about one I would let take over full control of something like that.
O’Shea: How has the collaborative process evolved for you and Loney Hutchins, given that this is the second album you have worked on together?
Crowell: I plead the 5th and Loney is a patient saint. Anyone who disagrees about Loney being stellar has only problems with themselves, not Loney.
Loney Hutchins: I am hipper to Chelsea coming in and changing her mind because she’s probably written a new song the night before. Whereas last time I was trying to bring more organization to the process.
O’Shea: What songs proved the most challenging to create on this new batch?
Crowell: Most of these songs are recorded live, no stops, no punch ins, no overdubs. It depended on the mood of the day if one would work or not. Baptized Two had a lot to memorize as well as feel comfortable singing.
Hutchins: Baptized 2. I’m Gonna Freeze went through two incarnations. Felt weird when we recut it then sounded awesome when it was finished. Things have rebirths like that
O’Shea: When did you realize you wanted Crystal City outro to be a separate cut on the album?
Crowell: The second we finished recording it.
O’Shea: During our 2010 interview, you said you intended to consider being less experimental on your next release, would you say you were less experimental?
Crowell: Yes. I was. But I want to forward this to Loney and see what his answers are too. That would be fun, cause he probably has a different take. I sort of don’t know.
Hutchins: She was way more experimental with the songwriting and less experimental with the production.
O’Shea: Again back when I interviewed you for your first album, I think you were still struggling with stage fright. How goes that battle these days?
Crowell: Eh, I finally realized that being on stage doesn’t make you the center of the universe or the ruler of the modern world. I suppose my trick now is if i get humble then i have nothing to think anyone should expect of me.
O’Shea: As noted in this recent No Depression review, you worked with former Jane Only collaborator Steven Braren on a few cuts from this album. What was the best part of getting to collaborate with him again?
Crowell: Laughing. Being able to communicate with him without words. Nods and arm movements go a long way. I annoy him, but he loves me and understands me.
O’Shea: Will you be touring in support of this new album?
Crowell: A lot
O’Shea: What else if on the creative horizon for you?
Crowell: Too much. I have so many things to finish. This question gave me anxiety cause I need to finish a song I was working on earlier.
Hutchins: That opera thang [which Crowell and I discussed in our last interview]
O’Shea: Anything we should discuss that I neglected to ask you about?
Crowell: Dave Gleason (guitar on Freeze and Better Than Her) and Ben Martin (drums on Freeze and Better Than Her). Two of the most solid men. I would trust them with my life, but more importantly I would trust them with my music and I did.