While performing in South Carolina's Lowcountry in 2010, Mark needed something to present to venues that would quickly demonstrate what performances were like, in order to be booked. "A lot of what I do involves building complex, large arrangements, and they're done when they're done," Mark says. "Even if the full arrangements of these songs were done when I needed them, it wouldn't be representative of the 'solo-performer' type thing I was trying to do." Mark also wanted something recent to sell at shows.
One Thursday Mark decided he was going to set up a few microphones in his Hilton Head, SC apartment and just record live, "in-studio" versions of the songs and be done with it. "It didn't go exactly the way I expected it to," Mark recalls, "and I scrapped the sessions and expanded the scope just a little bit." Not wanting to get bogged down by all the choices inherent in modern digital production, Mark limited himself to no more than three acoustic guitar tracks per song (six of the seven tracks have no more than two), and a main vocal and a backing vocal. This allowed a workflow more typical to Mark's previous releases, but also prevented the scope of the project from growing out of control.
By Sunday of that weekend, "All I've Got" was finished.
"This Is All I've Got Right Now" is Mark stripped to his core. The strength of the songwriting carries this collection of work, with only the bare minimum of supporting instrumentation. This is how Mark sounds live.
"Free," "Alera," and "Her God" have been separately released as powerful fully-orchestrated versions, and the other four songs will eventually be released as well. "My current situation doesn't permit me to disappear for eighteen months and return with a fully-orchestrated album that I can then ride for two years with appearances on Leno and MTV," Mark says, "and with social media, unless those appearances happen regularly, they'll forget you ever existed unless you're in their faces 24/7."
But for Mark, creating these fully-orchestrated versions is a challenge he loves taking on. "Where I am in upstate New York, not only are there very few people to work with, and they're all doing their own thing, but I'm sort of branded as some freak because I'm conservative, and most of the musicians up here don't want to be associated with it. So when it comes to these full-blown versions, I have to do it all myself. That's a lot of work, and it doesn't fit well into the social-media timeframes 'Generation M' has imposed upon the world, but they are unbelievably satisfying when they're done. I can stand back and know that I did that, that I overcame everything that stood in the way."
released March 31, 2010
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