May 22nd, 2023
By 2005, I was fully writing, performing, and recording music, but had still only released two EPs.
My next step (pun absolutely intended) was a full-length record.
There was a number of false starts (and I’ll be covering the things that didn’t happen in the last part). But the spark here was when I stopped thinking of a record as a collection of songs.
I started to imagine it as a movie.
That movie was called Something Old, Something New…, and it became the title of my first LP. It is essentially what they call a “concept album”: it tells a story from the first track to last, this being the tale of a fictionalized relationship from beginning to end.
It opens with Introduction, which is my version of a Hollywood studio theme, like the famous 20th Century Fox horns, and ends with a different theme, echoing and subverting the progression of the first song, Dance With Me (and is a musical reflection of the last lyrical line of Have a Nice Life, the final song).
The album is cyclical, like relationships are cyclical, like our lives go round and round relentlessly, up and down ceaselessly.
There’s the meeting, then the falling in love, then the conflict, then the dissolution, then the grief and the denial, and then, you know… it all starts over again.
Something Old, Something New… is the most concise and focused Next Step album, and it sharply illustrates the point that I’m a storyteller first and foremost. It feels young and new and like it has no idea what it’s doing every time I listen to it, and that makes it evergreen, growing in a protective, shaded pot of soil in my heart. It has some of my favorite songs that I’ve ever written, like live staple Positively, weird internet phenomenon Stay, All I Need, and Have a Nice Life.
Like any modern blockbuster, the album also has a post-credits scene, a bonus track called The Steps. I had written a lot of songs before The Steps, but that was the first time I wrote something where I could imagine hearing it on the radio; I co-wrote it with a work friend, Allen, before anything else here, so it didn’t have a place in the plot of the record, but I was really proud of the song and wanted to include it, anyway.
Something Old, Something New… came out on July 13th, 2005, exactly two years after my first EP, Tangled Cords. It was available online, and on CD. CDs were awful and we are better off without them.
The album cover finds me playing my blue guitar on top of a shared garage at the first apartment I lived in, on Burnsville Parkway, next to the old Best Buy and Perkins.
At this time, both Nick and Kenny (whose voice can be heard on The Steps) had been sporadically around, and we were playing odd shows, mostly acoustic sets in coffee shops and parking lots.
Before Something Old, Something New…, I had been kicking around an ambitious idea to do a trilogy of albums called The Streetlight Diaries. After releasing this debut, I had the confidence to start.
The first chapter was called Love & Fear, and I got to work.