Life on the fringe has its benefits, not the least of which is the perspective from an outsider’s view. Northwind Records is proud to announce the release of Mike Aiken’s 7th studio album, ”Wayward Troubadour”. Aiken’s 11 song package is the anticipated follow up to the Grammy nominated ”Captains & Cowboys”, produced by Dan Baird, Georgia Satellites. As the 1st track’s title indicates, ‘Everything Changed’ with this album. A conceptualized work that each of us can relate to, ”Wayward Troubadour” tells tales of trouble and charm.
It has been 5 years since ”Captains & Cowboys” made its debut and Aiken says he wasn’t going to stop, not until he achieved what he was after. “I had a very clear sound in my head for this album, one I’ve always wanted to capture. At this point in my career I don’t have time for folks who don’ t believe in the music 110%. These are the folks I want to write, record and perform with”.
Of the 8 original songs on the album, 6 are co-writes. ‘Two Lane Highway’ was penned with Henry Paul, from Outlaws and BlackHawk, who also lent his talents to mandolin and vocals on this timeless, sweet track. ‘Nashville Skyline,’ written with Chris P James, of the Burrito Brothers, covers the troubadour’s view of Nashville as seen from any highway leading in to town . Mike included 2 very different songs he wrote with Paul Jefferson, the cooking Bob Wills-esque, ‘Everything Changed’, and the intense song about not being judgmental, ‘Hard Working Working Girl’. Longtime friend and co-writer, Tim Buppert and Mike created the more tongue in cheek offerings with ‘Hangover Helper’ and the gypsy jazz flavored, ‘A Little Lazy In Your Life’.
The 3 covers were chosen for their content and their songwriters, rather than audience familiarity. ‘Real Mean Dog’, by Robbin Thompson and Gregg Wetzel, is for Robbin, longtime friend, fellow sailor and songwriter, ‘Dead Man Runs Before He Walks’, by Mark Collie and Shawn Camp, for an interesting twist on a somber story, and ‘Penelope’, by Christopher Hynes, for its reminder that the grass is not always greener elsewhere.
The self penned songs ‘Travelin’ Bone’and ‘Chesapeake’ give an autobiographical peek into Mike Aiken. Wayward, by definition, is difficult to control, unpredictable, non conforming. It took 3 studios and almost as many years to complete this troubadour’s collection of true north. Tracking began in Austin, TX, late in 2016. Aiken then found his way to Latitude Studio South in Leiper ’s Fork, TN.
Here is where the magic started, where the wayward musicians could be themselves and Mike could begin to capture what he heard in his head on the vintage equipment. Tracking and mixing were completed in Deep Creek, VA, when Aiken brought the project to longtime friend and mixing engineer Skip DeRupa. The 2 had not worked together since ”Just Add Salt” in 2008 but they picked up as if no time had passed. DeRupa understood exactly what Mike was going for and set about mixing each song for what it needed.
Tom Hurst on drums set the tone and character Aiken was after. David Roe cooked on upright and electric bass. Kenny Vaughan, acoustic and electric, shared the guitar work with Mike adding grit, tension and color. Amy Aiken added depth with harmony vocals and percussion. Ben Probus rounded out the band on fiddle.
If anybody has earned the title of ”Wayward Troubadour”, Mike Aiken has. He ran away as a kid to play music, he became a licensed U.S.C.G. Captain, he has sailed over 30 000 bluewater miles on his own sailboat, and logged countless miles on the road performing in North America and Europe. Put this record on and become part of the journey.