I always have to undergo several crises of confidence and identity in between making my albums--it's a fundamental part of my creative process--and I think that's true to some extent for everyone that I know who makes music or art. One of the essential arguments that I always have with myself has to do not so much with which songs to include or how to approach the songs from a production standpoint, but with what kind of songs to write. Sometimes I will write a song and decide that I don't like the subject matter, so I'll make another three or four versions, all with different lyrics, until I land on something that I'm happy with. Other times I just won't know whether I want to continue going down the rabbit hole of the post-American Primitive style that I have found myself drawn to when I play guitar, or whether I want to try something new or at least a little different from my usual comfort zone.
It's that second kind of indecisiveness that has led to so much of my searching over the last six months. I have played around with a Prophet synthesizer, programmed drums, and more electric guitar than usual. I have committed (at least so far) to recording most of this record at home, which might not seem like much given the prevalence of home studios these days, but for me it's a seemingly eternal struggle, trying to reconcile my desire for sonic consistency with competing desires for complete sonic control and relative thriftiness. It's freeing to be able to sprawl out and try out idea after idea for an indeterminate amount of time, but it comes with its own limitations. Like Robert Frost said, writing free verse poetry is like playing tennis without a net. But like T.S. Eliot said, no verse is free for the man who wants to do a good job. It's those two competing philosophies that I bounce between when it comes to the relative freedoms and limitations that come with recording on my own.
Right now, I find myself at that familiar impasse. Yesterday I slipped in the ice outside and, while I didn't seriously injure myself, I scuffed up my left hand a little bit. Playing guitar with that hand is like recording in the little room that I have to myself, with my growing nest of equipment--there are all sorts of unspoken obstacles, but they force me to be creative in new ways. I hope that I can find my true path for this album soon.