“It’s been a couple of years since Mercury State came out and I took my time with this record,” says Daniel Pearson, the Leeds-based singer-songwriter of his third album, Alone, Together, which weaves strings into his Americana and folk-influenced sound.
“I just wanted to get it right and I think it’s different enough from my first two records to be interesting, but I think there’s definitely a thread that runs through them all, it sounds like me.”
He refers to the “pretty seismic year” he’s had that is reflected in the tone of his new songs. “I got married, we had our first child and I’ve been through some health problems [battling against a rare form of eye cancer]. For the first two albums that I put out I was working part-time as a teacher to make ends meet whereas now I do music full-time. The songs are very reflective of those myriad experiences and those changes that have been positive and negative but I’m hoping the end product is essentially uplifting and something that people can connect with.”
His musical evolution continues too. Where his first solo album Satellites was a “poppy, Americana record” and Mercury State was a sparsely-recorded response to the financial crash, “trying to give voice to people that were struggling in the recession so there were lots of blues songs and donwbeat folk songs”, this time Pearson says that as he was writing the songs for Alone, Together he was “hearing the string parts in my head”.
“I’ve never had strings on my records before, I never had a violinist or anything like that, but when I started recording the songs with Ed Heaton, my producer, I kept saying to him, ‘I can hear some strings here and some string parts there’ and he said ‘I know a guy called Keiran O’Malley who has played in about 50 Leeds bands and he’s just one of these amazing musicians who goes in and deps everybody and plays 10 gigs in a week, he just lives for music, basically’. Ed said ‘I’ll give him a call and see if he’ll come down and play’.
“We rang him and he came down and he did three Saturday sessions on different weekends and we built up all the string parts that way. I said ‘I want something that sounds a bit like this’ and he got it straight away and we just went from there. He put a lot of his own ideas on there as well and I think it came out sounding brilliant, I’m really happy with it.”
As a lyricist, Pearson says he’s interested in life. “It’s one of these things – you get good experiences, bad experiences, you love, you lose, all those kinds of things are really important. What I always try to do in my songs is write about things that are real and real experiences.
“There are a lot more singer-songwriters out there that are a lot more commercially successful than I am but sometimes when you dig beneath the surface of their songs there might not be that much there or maybe you find out that they didn’t even write the song or it was a co-writer or whatever and that’s fine because that’s the industry and it has its place but with me I think everything has to come from a very personal place and I think that’s the way to make music that people can really connect to and is really going to have some longevity.”
Daniel Pearson plays at Oporto in Leeds on Tuesday, September 15. Alone, Together is available now. For details visit http://danielpearson.net/