The Fiery Furnaces’ Eleanor Friedberger released her second solo album, 'Personal Record', in June 2013 on Merge Records. 'Personal Record' is the follow up to Friedberger’s critically acclaimed solo debut, 'Last Summer'.
'Personal Record' was recorded in October 2012, in New York and Los Angeles. She wrote the songs with the musician and novelist Wesley Stace, in the spring and summer of 2011, just before 'Last Summer' was released. Eleanor and Wesley met at a Bob Dylan tribute concert, where they both sang songs from 'The Basement Tapes'. They began trading music. He introduced her to Duncan Browne, Alan Hull, Al Stewart, Patto and Ollie Halsall; She sent him some crackly reggae covers, Jonathan King singing Wuthering Heights, Donovan, Richard Davies, and some obscure Fiery Furnaces tracks. MP3s turned into thier own music, emails turned into lyrics, and suddenly they were writing new songs. Ideas came from odd places: films they both liked, memories they didn't even share, old poems. They were writing songs faster than she could say, "Who the hell is this guy?"
After finishing 'Last Summer', Eleanor found herself performing on her own, in intimate situations at record stores and radio sessions, playing acoustic guitar and singing a set of songs that hadn’t necessarily beenwritten for guitar. Despite never having done it before, this seemed like the easiest way to present those songs, and the most interestingway to write new songs. She's always tried to make each record in a new way; now she had one right in front of her. The new songs presented themselves as love songs, and that seemedperfectfor the intimacy with which she wanted to play them. And they are love songs --hellos and goodbyes, infatuation, pre-occupation, loss--but not simply aboutromantic love.
They're also love songs to music: how you feel on stage when you do something spontaneous and it works, how you feel when you hear someone sing a song for the first time, what it's like to watch a friend perform, how you can feel close to someone you barely know because you both happen to love the same record, or playing the same song forty times in a row, not being able to rest until you own every song recorded by our favorite singer, or every version of our favorite song. Music and musicians appear over and over again on the album--Sparks, a Duncan Browne A and B side, The Incredible String Band, Soft Machine, the various singers on the various stages in the lyrics. Imagine love embodied by pure sound, as described in "Echo and Encore": that's what she wanted these songs to be about, and how she wanted them to sound.
So how personal is 'Personal Record'? Very,but unlike 'Last Summer', which was more a record of my life told in a stream of consciousness style, these lyrics are more inclusive, written for an intimate setting with direct communication in mind: singer, acoustic guitar, audience. And appropriately, the album was recorded live, for the most part. If not live, then quickly and spontaneously played. While touring in support of 'Last Summer' with her new band, she started playing nearly half the songs on 'Personal Record', including 'When I Knew', 'I'll Never Be Happy Again', 'Stare At The Sun'. And she was lucky to get John Eatherly (guitar) and Matt Asti (bass) to record what they'd been playing live for the better part of a year: anatural progression for most bands, but new to her. She'd always learned songs after they were recorded, and changed them to play live. It was incredibly satisfying to play 'I Don't Want to Bother You' right and get to keep it forever. (Or in "amber," like in "Stare At The Sun".) The album also features Jim Orso (drums) and Morgan Wiley (keys), who both played on Last Summer, and Abe Seiferth (guitar) and Robbie Lee (woodwinds). The album was produced and recorded by Eric Broucek in New York at DFA Studios.