The Golden Sands CD has been two years in the making, with songs written between 2002 and 2006.
The title track, or cover song, is about the death of my father and the cycle of life. It’s a pretty emotive track and people have been known to have a tear in their eye on first hearing the song. It was an emotional song to write in the cold, bleak, January of 2003.
Songs on the album have been produced mainly by Iain Bradshaw at Armirage Studios in the North West of England. Iain has had a tremendous input on the production and orchestration side, though we try and keep the songs true to “as written”. Frequently Iain will add a better solo, or suggest a different lead in. Iain’s a keyboard man, while we are guitarists and the two styles have different flavours that, when blended together, can gel quite nicely. So a simple song played on two guitars can capture its essence, but Iain’s production and orchestration enhances this and takes the songs to a new level. Fundamentally we set the melody, the tempo and chord patterns, then Iain uses his years of experience to interpret the song musically.
Help on the songwriting side has come from Chester based songwriter and performer, Susan Bargh, whom I met on the Chester songwriting course. Sue is a poet and a good guitarist with a really mellow voice. See her website at www.soundclick.com/suebargh
For backing singing we turn to Nova, who has been the MD of Harmony Choirs and leader of Barber Shop Quartets, taking them to competitions all around the country. Unlike me, she understands music at a deeper level and teaches piano to children. She and Iain can have a good old chat about whether a song should resolve to the minor or major. On “Golden Sands” we couldn’t decide. I wrote it with A major, but Nova was adamant that it needed a minor. So Ian conceived a chord without the third, neither one nor the other (as I understand it). See what I mean about musical discussions?
It’s very hard to get even a good song into the mainstream of the musical world. Our songs get good reviews but none have made it through that magical barrier as yet. But we don’t mind too much, as we’re having a really interesting time finding out how it all works.
The Golden Sands CD is a mix of all different genre’s, a factor in the conception of the name zhonray. “Lover of the night” is a moody number with an almost Sade ambience. Next track “Shine your smile on me” is a Country linedance number. After “Golden Sands” we decided a lighter song was needed, hence “The Ballad of Billy Ray” which encapsulates one of Bill’s favourite sayings “Ah, we’re getting there”.
I like writing ballads, in the main. You can get a lot of feeling into a ballad, so the middle tracks reflect these moods and feelings. Near the end we perk things up again with the sort of song you might hear at a West End musical “Music and Make-up” followed by a Country Rock and finally the enigmatic number “No more I can do”.
We hope you enjoy listening to our songs.
© zhonray 2010 Last updated: 23/02/2009