They say to best view a meteor shower we need to drive away from the glow of city lights and find a dark secluded spot where we can lay back and position ourselves so that the night sky fills our view. And even then we can only hope, watch and wait for the unexpected shift in the heavens, allowing us a peek into the unexplainable mysteries of a world beyond this one.
The new album from Staci Frenes, Meteor Shower, is a collection of ten songs that explore what it means to be watchful, open to wonder and revelation from the heart of a God who longs to be found by us.
“I love the idea of a meteor shower as a metaphor for glimpses of meaning beyond what we see on the surface,” says Frenes. “I believe if we pay attention to everyday occurrences with expectancy, and with fewer distractions, we open ourselves to the best and deepest truths which can’t be explained, only revealed in quiet moments when we are truly receptive.”
Frenes has been delivering insightful folk/pop music since the mid-90’s, releasing six critically-hailed albums on her own label, Longshot Records, while balancing a steady touring schedule with her role as a wife and mom. Frenes’ songs and collaborations have landed her cuts on CCM albums by artists as diverse as Nichole Nordeman, Jason Gray and Sheila Walsh; mainstream country and pop records; and film and television placement on networks such as ABC, CBS, NBC and the WB.
For this new album, what started as a songwriting collaboration between Frenes and Minneapolis-based producer/songwriter, Nate Sabin (Sara Groves, Jason Gray), grew into the seeds for the new album. “I had heard wonderful things about Nate as a producer, so I wanted to experience writing with him before embarking on a whole album together. For me, that’s where the heart of a record is; and I wanted to be sure we understood and trusted one another’s sensibilities.” It didn’t take long; she felt comfortable with the sometimes awkward back-and-forth exchange of ideas and vulnerability inherent in songwriting. “I told him, ok, let’s do the best record I’ve ever made!”
A tall order, but the players and studios were A-list; half the record was recorded at Dark Horse Studios in Franklin, TN with session veterans Matt Pierson (bass), Steve Brewster (drums), George Cochinni (guitar), and Jeff Roach (keys). The other songs were tracked at Minneapolis’ McPhereson Studios, with Ben Gowell (guitars), Aaron Fabbrinni (bass) and Zach Miller (drums), with Sabin adding acoustic guitar on tracks from both sessions. The result is, in Frenes’ estimation, the most artistically defining record she’s done to date.
“This record was made the ‘old-school’ way; we’d show the songs to the players with a minimal amount of pre-production and then let them do what they do best—play! It was very organic; I’d done computer-based recording and file swapping for years. Here were musicians together in the same space, feeding off one another’s energy and vibe and creating arrangements on the spot. It was fascinating, and we got inspired and emotional performances.”
The album’s title song and first radio single, Meteor Shower, and the hauntingly beautiful Dreaming Us are ambient and lush and move with a kind of restrained grace; while Oxygen, Making Room and 101 Ways strut with the confidence of singable funky-pop. Holding together the stylistic diversity on the album is Frenes’ dusky alto, sounding more self-assured than ever, and drawing comparisons to Aimee Mann, Sheryl Crow and Colbie Caillat.
With anticipation high from both new and longtime fans, Frenes’ hopes for the album are clear.
“I want this record to stir up a longing to see God in the hints and guesses and puzzle-pieces he reveals to us in everyday occurrences. And yes, we see through a glass dimly, but my hope is that as we watch expectantly through the glass, we will see glimpses that will be worth an entire lifetime of waiting and longing and feeling our way in the dark.”