San Francisco Bay Area musician, Stephen Cogswell, chose to bring things back to the basics with with his debut solo album "Floating." All greatest songs ever created can be chiseled down to a voice and an acoustic guitar. It was this simplicity and purity of soul that Stephen was aiming for when embarking on the journey of creating his debut solo album. The focus of these songs were on voice, soul, lyrics, and unique instrumentation. The fulfillment of Cogswell's long time desire to share his many love songs. The project also emerged at the urging of friends and fans of wanting to hear something more vocally and lyrically centered from Stephen.
The music started with inspiration, lyrics, voice and guitar. Once collaborating with other musicians the songs, and the entire album, took on whole new dimensions.
The record was recorded at the legendary Hyde Studios in San Francisco. The birth place of some of rock n' rolls most legendary recordings and music that help to create the San Francisco Bay area as a beacon of creativity, innovation and freedom of expression.
Stephen first stepped into the studio with the rhythm section team of Travis Porter DeLeon and Paul Oakburn. Working through the arrangements with such a stellar rhythm section, many songs perked up into real danceable grooves, while still keeping their soulful core. The next addition was the string arrangements that Paul and Stephen collaborated on, enhancing the emotional depth and beauty.
Stephen co-produced with wiz kid engineer Nathan Winter, who has also worked on albums for Bay Area artists such as Train, Forrest Day and a remix of the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Collaborators on the album include some of the who's who from the San Francisco live music scene. Trevor Garrod (Tea Leaf Green) played a beautiful white baby grand formerly owned by Frank Sinatra on several tracks (Whale song,Borrowed, Teeter, Thoughts unsaid ). He played Wurlitzer on "Waiting in Divine," contributed vocals on "Whale Song" and banjo on (whale song, rest in your fields, teeter). ALO's Dan Lebowitz contributed vocals and dobro on "Whale Song" and pedal steel on "Rest in Your Fields." Melvin Seals of the Jerry Garcia Band contributed Hammond B3 organ on "How Beautiful" to get the high powered gospel sound that Cogswell had envisioned for the song. MC JBrave from the Los Angeles based band/movement the Luminaries contributed his MC skills to "The One." Deva Blanchard of Captive Eddie's plays guitar on "The One," "Rest in Your Fields," and "Borrowed." Mike Olmos, from Con Brio contributed trumpet to several tracks on the record distance, how beautiful, the one, and funk guitarist, Rio Life Delaney of Stephen's band YoMa did the guitar picking on "Whale Song"and "Teeter." The soulful feminine presence on the album is Bay Area singer Pamela Parker and Jenny Simon. Jenny contributed backing vocals, helped write, inspire and arrange the female vocals and is the lead female voice on the lovely "Moonlight and Candle" duet.
One of the most unique musical elements on the record is the addition of the Kora. A kora is a harp built from a large calabash cut in half and covered with cow skin to make a resonator with a long hardwood neck and has a harp like song. Traditional kora's feature 21 strings, eleven played by the left hand and ten by the right. Famed Kora player, Karamo Cissokho of Senegal, added his extraordinary and beautiful Kora playing to "Distance".
"Floating" began as a vehicle for Cogswell to share the love and inspiration songs floating around in his head. With all the warmth and openness with which the wonderful artists gave their all for this collection of songs, "Floating" can truly be called a product of love.