You all have spoken! Several weeks ago I asked what you want me to create next. Out of more than 10 options, you all voted that you were most excited to hear an acoustic album. Shortly after, I began the process of writing and recording. Because of COVID-19, the new songs are a time capsule that tell the story of one of the weirdest experiences any of us have ever lived through. We’ll be able to listen to the album and say “remember how weird that was?”
It’s been such an interesting experience to write an album during the period of COVID-19 social isolation. Like many of you, my state was under a “stay-home order.” Maybe you learned some new things about yourself during social isolation. I know I did.
Notebook lyrics for Redemption, a song from the upcoming album The Way Back
The stay-home order came at an inconvenient time for me. I’ve been trying to heal and recover from a divorce. I won’t share details but it’s been one of the hardest situations I’ve ever had to face in my life. I know some of you can relate. Writing an album during the dual-smackdown of a divorce and COVID-19 might have been just what I needed though. I had to get myself back on the path toward something all of us desperately need right now; a more hopeful future.
My first thought when I heard about the stay-home order announcement was “Great! This is seriously bad timing!” Social isolation doesn’t exactly sound like the path to healing. On the other hand, it meant I would have extra time to write new songs. Just like writing in a journal, songwriting has always been the place for me to let it all out and sort through my experiences. I was long overdue to write again. This time would be different though.
As I listened to others express their fears surrounding COVID-19, the economy and the uncertain future we’re facing, I could clearly see that hope is something we all desperately need right now. I need it. After experiencing the heartbreak of divorce, I knew I needed to find a way to return to a place where I could look forward to life again. That hasn’t been an easy process. I needed to learn how to hope again. So, instead of simply venting about my situation, I decided to take a more focused and intentional approach. I decided to write the album about learning to hope even while we’re in the middle of a crisis. Truth be told, it’s the only way forward for all of us.
Writing in this way was a good mental exercise. On the album’s opening song, I set my “compass” on hope and set sail towards it. Each song on the album is a stop along the way in that journey. At the end of the songwriting process I actually found myself feeling hopeful about my future again. I felt like I had found an old part of myself that was still in there but had been covered in dust for awhile. Who knew all it would take to start shaking the dust off was a little focus and rock ‘n roll.
I still have a long way to go on this journey but I did have one key realization during the writing process; if you believe there’s a God in this world, then human beings might not be the ones who decide when hope is truly gone. That decision might actually be out of our hands. Maybe that’s a good thing. For me, that’s a relief. It actually helped me start to let some hope back into my life. Sure, it’s a constant battle sometimes, but that’s what it’s like to be human, right? When we start to feel like the story is over, remember that hope is something that can’t be taken. Remember that as we face COVID-19, an uncertain economy and threats to our health and livelihood. It won’t be easy; we will have to fight to keep hope alive… but what better time than now?
I suppose I should share a few details about the album itself. It’s called The Way Back and I’m planning for a fall release. Despite being an acoustic album, the songs will feature a mix of atmosphere, vocal harmonies and chunky acoustic riffs. I simply can’t write an album without moments of headbanging even if it is an acoustic album! It’s in my DNA. A friend of mine named Tyler Habig (Komptoro) is actually working up some string and cello arrangements which is exciting new territory for me. I’m hoping my heavy alt/rock roots will make for a unique acoustic experience unlike anything you’ve heard before.
I have to thank you for encouraging me to write again after a long hiatus from songwriting. It helped me tremendously through a pretty dark time. If it’s not obvious after COVID-19, we all need each other. Thank you for helping me “get back on the horse” so to speak.
Since you were such a pivotal part of shaping this album, I’d like to let you in on the writing and recording process. From now until the official album release, I’ll be trickling out lyric sheets, recording footage and sharing the stories behind each song. If you’re on my e-mail list, expect to see a newsletter containing sneak peaks around the first of each month followed by additional content on my social media channels.
This album is intended to be our journal that documents what we’ve all gone through. It’s a time-capsule of COVID-19 social isolation as we learn to hope in the midst of the crisis. Even though we may not know what comes next, we can set our “compass” and sail towards hope. It’s time to climb out of this hole and rock the universe! Take care and talk to you soon!
Nathan (aka Vandarth)
Vandarth’s acoustic album The Way Back will be released this fall.
New Single coming June 15th: “Last One Down” will be available on download and streaming services!
Get an early glimpse at Last One Down in Episode 7 of Diary Of A Starving Guitarist. Watch it below!