“ Oh, you should hear my son. He plays beautifully! Look at this video of him playing piano,” says a good friend of mine.
I’m thinking to myself, Well of course you like whatever he does… You’re his mother! But instead I say, “Lemme see that.” I watch the video and it’s reeeeally lovely – I am genuinely impressed and ask, “What’s the song he’s playing?” She explains that it’s his own composition and then she tells me about her son, Cole.
Cole is a self-taught artist and musician. He just picks up an instrument and plays it. There was an attempt at music lessons when he was a child but they came to an abrupt end when the piano teacher proclaimed Cole was ‘unable to be taught.’ Cole has a form of autism called Asperger’s Syndrome. Working with him on this record has been a revelatory experience, observing how it affects his ability to write and perform his songs, both negatively and positively. After my first chat with his mom about his music, Cole and I exchanged contact info. Over the next few years he sent me his songs – old demos, roughly recorded piano pieces, and full-realized songs. He played, wrote and recorded all the instruments. I was impressed with the range of his music, his smart lyrics and unaffected vocals. I admire that he is not afraid to create from a position of vulnerability and is willing to let the listener hear it – which is something I always struggle with.
He and I worked with Mike Brivadsky at Russian Recording in Bloomington, IN giving sonic cohesion to this collection of dark birds. Drummer Ben Lumsdaine replaced Cole’s computer beats with a human groove, and my friend Jocelyn Hatch played some gorgeous viola.