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Barabbas: "Son of the father" - Pierce Pettis


Father’s Son” is my first solo album in almost ten years, since the release of “That Kind of Love” in 2009. It’s a testimony to the patience and understanding of Garry West & Alison Brown (my bosses at Compass) to allow me this much time and freedom. At one point in the interim, Garry actually said to me, “you’re going to write some great stuff, take all the time you need and let me know”. What a contrast to what artists face at most record companies! It really makes a difference to work for a label run by musicians for musicians —and for the love of music.

Garry and I began seriously looking at material for the new album about four years ago and reviewed probably 30-40 songs, both old and new. We finally narrowed the list down to around 15-20 songs —most of which, I’d written in recent years. I then submitted the list to two focus groups: one composed of artists and music industry folks and the other of fans, asking each group to choose the 8 songs they liked best. This input, as well as audience reaction to the material performed live, helped up tremendously.

The list also contained several older works I’d forgotten, rediscovered from old demos, and re-arranged or re-written. In fact, our title track, “Father’s Son” was originally written back in the early 90’s. Coming across the old recording, I felt the song needed something. So I added a new musical section and the song came alive. Garry loved the new version and it became our title track. Garry also picked out a couple of my brand new songs which I’d not yet performed live, and they became stand-out tracks on the album. In addition to my own songs, we looked at a few cover tunes and chose a personal favorite of mine, Jesse Winchester’s “A Showman’s Life”. In my early performance life, in the mid-80’s, I had the honor of opening shows for Jesse across the US for the better part of a year. Now, looking back after all these years, that song has a particular poignancy for me —as well as the pleasure of covering one of my songwriter heroes.

The Hebrew name, “Barabbas” or “Bar-Abba” means “son of the father” or literally, “daddy’s son”. That has always struck me. This album was recorded live, on the floor, with the band, with minimal overdubs. We think you’ll appreciate the authenticity and energy this brings to the project. The main sessions were done over a three-day period … the most joyful, stress-free studio experience of my professional life.

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