About the Album
Romantic ballads in the huge Spanish-speaking market are characterised by strong melodies and expressive lyrics which connect deeply with the listener. The singer’s relationship with the audience is very well defined – warmly emotional and adult. Song themes deal in a powerful way with affairs of the heart.
Lyrics of this particular quality are unusual in the English-speaking world. Happily, songwriter Seán Silke has a massive catalogue of compositions and his flair for touching lyrics and strong melodies seems tailor-made for a project with Mediterranean cultural influences.
“Unexamined Emotions” is a collection of accessible romantic pop songs. As well as being lyrically unusual, the songs are also very melodic. You can read both the song lyrics and song backgrounds by clicking the “Lyrics” tab on this website’s toolbar. You will then see a track listing. By clicking on any track title, the lyrics and song background information are revealed.
Composer Seán Silke adds these observations: The album title, “Unexamined Emotions”, has a double meaning. We tend to lack the skills necessary to analyse and understand our relationships. In one sense, we do possess the required vocabulary. We toss around psychological phrases which suggest that we comprehend the heart and its emotions. But in reality we lack insight, being able to occasionally diagnose others’ problems but seldom our own. And so – although we live in a society saturated with the idea of romantic love – we understand love very little. And even though we would very much like to be able to understand ourselves, we are usually unable to do so. In this sense, the album title refers to the time bomb of unexamined emotions in our world.
At the same time, the songs in the album examine the emotional life in intense detail. Usually written from a female point of view, the songs create mini-stories in which experiences such as betrayal, indecisiveness, bad choices and the joys of love (“the masterpiece of life”) are evoked and described. There are songs about warnings unheeded (“You told me before”), stories of last chance saloons (“At the villa”), and evocations of dreams filled with bitter regret (“Time long past”). There are songs about saying goodbye to life (“Into the darkness”), about treachery disguised as love (“The shelter of his hands”), and there is also a celebration of the bliss of sensuality (“Fall in, baby”). At odds with the album title, therefore, the emotions here are pretty comprehensively examined!
About the producer
Dublin City is currently bubbling under with a strong dance and hip hop scene. A distinctive figure within this movement is Chris Kabs (born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo but largely raised in Sweden and Ireland).
Chris is a recording artist, a music producer, a composer, a record label manager and a master of many instruments. In recent years, he has been busy writing, producing and recording his debut album. He has also produced an extensive range of one-off tracks for emerging artists.
Chris is noteworthy for the breadth of his collaborative projects. His top co-writer is Seán Silke; together they are currently working on a 15-track dance album project. But taking pride of place in their creative partnership is “Unexamined emotions”, an album of 14 romantic pop songs featuring Dublin artist Ellen Cosgrove.
Apart from building an enduring career for himself as a performing and recording artist, Chris plans to create a hub in Dublin around which other talented artists focus their budding careers; to evolve a songwriting/production team capable of producing a stream of hit commercial dance tracks and love songs; and to strengthen his record label activities (TEMO Universal) as well as links with current songwriting collaborators.
How the album came together
Composer Seán Silke writes: I started working with Chris on a specific song unrelated to the “Unexamined Emotions” project. We worked on a few songs and then I managed to persuade Chris to take some months off his full-time job and dedicate himself to producing my album over a sustained period of eight weeks (in May/June 2017). Chris had his studio in Lombard Street at the time and we both have very happy memories of what was a really rewarding creative period.
Chris couldn’t believe the stream of original songs I had available (my average output is one new song a week, and I have a “back catalogue” of amost 500 songs). From my point of view, I was amazed at what Chris brought to my demo material in terms of working out an initial intro/rhythm track, not to mention adding extra melody lines or riffs (as intros or middle eights) or indeed piano or trumpet solos. He is exceptionally musical and an extremely fast worker on the music production software (he uses CuBase).
Given that Chris is more comfortable working on dance material (mostly hip hop), the mature mature production sound he developed for my more “conventional” pop songs is some achievement.
We developed a smooth working method for putting the album together. I put the track listing together. Then I checked with Ellen to see if she agreed that all the selected songs were top notch. Now it was time to get myself fully geared up and ready for the studio work.
I put all the existing demo’s for the 14 selected songs on a USB. I printed out 3 copies of each set of lyrics for studio reference. Corresponding to each individual song, I have a page (put together at the demo stage) containing recording tips, key notation information, etc. – this is a vital tool to have to hand when recording. In addition, I checked out You-Tube and identified at least 3 different “sound reference” videos for Chris’s consideration. He likes to be able to home in on one of these videos and use his interpretation of the “reference soundscape” as a creative spark; this helps him put together his own initial ideas about how to arrange and record my compositions.
We tended to spend about six hours per day recording, calling in Ellen to provide a vocal every second morning. Chris doesn’t like to have two tracks ongoing in parallel. He likes to finish one and start the next one afresh. So in practice we called Ellen in twice a week for seven weeks to deliver her fourteen vocals. We tended to record four takes of the complete song (just to have different takes available) but usually selected one of the takes and sometimes made a few “line substitutions” where a specific phrase was not quite perfect. But in practice using one continuous take was the norm. You can’t beat working with a highly professional singer like Ellen! She is definitely a “one take” artist.