March 9-12, 2009: Sessions for Nina Nastasia’s new album ‘Outlaster’ took place at  Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio in Chicago. Jay Bellerose and myself were the rhythm section along with a great string quartet from NYC: Matt Szemela- vln, Amie Weiss- vln, Lev ‘Ljova’ Zhurbin- vla and Stephen Day- vc.


We only had three days to track the album with the full band overdub some woodwinds and then mix in one (long) day.


Things got off to an alarmingly slow start  but we eventually fell into a groove; I would rehearse the strings while Nina, Jay and guitarist Jeff Parker (Tortoise) would fool around with ideas. Once I felt we were ready to track, I would grab a bass and hope that I could get off something usable while tape was rolling...

I enjoyed working with Nina and Kennan Gudjonsson, Nina’s de facto producer for the first time. We have all been friends for a long while, but I had never made any recordings with them before. Kennan is a musician missing an instrument; he has ultra-musical instincts and was a great set of ears in the control room. It was an intense four days and really fun. Nina makes a ridiculously good quiche.


We overdubbed some woodwinds and horn on the fourth day and I played piano on a couple of songs. I think it’s gonna be a great record. Sleep deprivation notwithstanding, I am fairly certain that Steve mixed the entire record during our final (long) night in Chicago.



Final thoughts...SUPER FUN! Can’t wait for this to come out. Nina is an amazing artist.

Kennan Gudjonsson

SteveAlbini’s elbow, weird double exposure of Jay, Jeff Parker, Amie Weiss and myself.

Conducting the  quartet.

Kennan Gudjonsson

NINA NASTASIA’s Outlaster scheduled for June 2010 release

Preceding the June release of ‘Outlaster‘, seminal American singer / songwriter Nina Nastasia’s first album in three years, comes this great 2-track digital single. The opening track from the new album, ‘Cry, Cry, Baby’ serves as both a neat re-introduction to Nina’s work and in particular, to the sumptuous new sound of the album – a lush, orchestrated sophistication that, with no loss of distinction or economy, transcends the traditional reach of her famed spareness.


Recorded once more with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio in Chicago, Nina engaged Los Angeles musician and arranger Paul Bryan (whose collaborative credits include Aimee Mann, Grant Lee Phillips & others, and who’s worked as an instrumentalist with Allen Toussaint, Mavis Staples, Lucinda Willams, & many more) to adapt her songs into a score for a small orchestra. Then Nina and her long-time companion / collaborator Kennan Gudjonsson assembled string and woodwind quartets, finding the perfect complement with drummer Jay Bellerose (of Nina’s critically acclaimed albums ‘The Blackened Air’ & ‘On Leaving’) and Chicago guitarist Jeff Parker (Tortoise).


The orchestra takes a more formal approach with Paul Bryan’s powerfully affecting score, hearkening back to the likes of Gil Evans and the late Phil Ochs. Burnished with lustrous horns and reeds bolstered by a string ensemble, the record marks a distinct shift as much for her record label as for Nina Nastasia herself. ‘Cry, Cry, Baby’ is a perfect vehicle for Nina’s stunning and masterful voice. A beautiful, stately slow-burn of a song, it sees her vocal swoop and fall in powerfully emotive ways that few of her peers can match, perfectly foiled by the incredibly impressive but unshowy musicianship. Deeply moving and mature, it’s simply very, very classy stuff.


Recorded separately from the album sessions and exclusive to this single, the second track, ‘Our Gang’ is one of Nina’s newest songs, an intimate preview destined for broader arrangements in the future. As ever with Nina, there’s no such thing as a throwaway or a casual tossed-out song.


Hollywood-born but now resident in New York City, Nina has carved out a career as a singer-songwriter there since the early '90s. To date her six albums - 'Dogs' (2000), 'The Blackened Air' (2001), ‘The Blackened Air’ (2002), ‘Run To Ruin’ (2003), ‘On Leaving’ (2006) and ‘You Follow Me’ (2007) – have garnered widespread critical acclaim and a devoted fanbase.


~www.altsounds.com

NINA NASTASIA- OUTLASTER RECORDING JOURNAL: