Scenes from Tiny Town
Upon arriving in a new city, Arlington, VA, after 8 years in Seattle, WA, Jonathan Epstein took to documenting his first few months by recording his first solo album in almost 10 years. Scenes from Tiny Town captures Jonathan getting accustomed to a new home, a new time zone, a new climate, and a new drum kit. The sounds of SFTT were recorded, mixed, and mastered entirely in Jonathan's home studio, Tiny Town, during March, April, and May of 2005. The instrumentation tends towards the sparse with most songs consisting of simply vocals, guitar, and drums. On songs such as 400 Words, Dysfunctional Toe, and Custis, extra effects were used during the mixing process to achieve a more unique sound as the song warranted. Half of the material included on SFTT are songs that had been written in prior months, mostly performed with one of Jonathan's Seattle bands, Awnings for Eyelids. Here the arrangements are quite different than how the songs were being performed with the experimental rock trio. The remaining tracks were written during the recording process. In some cases, these new songs were written using the studio as a compositional tool, and the versions you hear on the album are the original takes. Jonathan cites several influences and styles ranging from heartfelt songwriting and singing ala The Band, spontaneous composition ala Sonic Youth, dreamy multi-layered guitarscapes ala Bill Frisell, dynamic one-man band Jon Brion, dark and moody DIY'ers like Yo La Tengo and Pavement, and guitar freak-outs ala Timothy Young. A song-by-song breakdown: 400 Words - This was written in what can only be described as 'a haze' on a plane ride from Austin, TX, to Seattle, WA. Somewhere in there is a song about a pen pal. I think. Dysfunctional Toe - Dedicated to my toe. This song has seen three lives. This is it's second life - a somewhat dingy industrial one at that. Farms Made of Stone - I didn't write this. I had the chance to be a member of Quinn W. Shagbark's Wear White and Come When I Call Orchestra in December of 2004. We played this song and it reminded me of a song I would write if I were that cool. Empathetic Thumb - Written about the thumb on my right hand which empathizes greatly with the thumb on my left hand. Melissa Molasses - A revamped version of a song that I wrote a few years ago. I've actually combined it with a new song to make a much more effective song than it was when it was first written. A Day and a Half - only a few seconds shows up on the album, but this song is really a day and a half long when played in it's entirety. Dedicated to the busker in the Court House Metro station. Apples - This ode to Tiny Town was written while enjoying apple pie and apple cider. Cart Race - A song of unrequited love. For my employer. Custis - Based on an overheard conversation on a subway ride and inspired by the sight of a Humple Pie record and the contents of it's spine. And, of course, named for the bike path I ride everyday. Last Night - That's last night as in final night not yesterday's night as in the final night of recording as in the very last thing that was recorded as in the end of this album.