“Inspired by old American parlor songs, I’ve written a set of “Work Songs” on the general subject of artists writing about their work. The best song cycles, I think, take on the same subject at different angles, and chip away at it until something is revealed. Artists’ working habits have always fascinated me—Matisse sculpting in bed, Charles Ives’s Bach-ian eye-opener—not so much for the insight they provide into the actual work, but more as an idealized template for how an artist should exist in the world.
The text of the piece is drawn from a range of sources: Woody Guthrie’s journals, a Melville poem, and contemporary American poets Mark Levine, Andrea Cohen, and Lorine Niedecker.
And it seemed only fitting to write it specifically for a group of my close artistic collaborators: Becca Stevens (voice & guitar), Gabriel Kahane (voice & guitar), Ted Hearne (voice & keyboard), Nathan Koci (accordion), and Taylor Levine (guitars). I’ll join them on piano, and we’ll fill out the program with songs by Becca, Gabe, Ted, and Nathan.”