California-based and North Carolina-raised singer-songwriter Joe Firstman plans to release a new album, “Live At The Treehouse,” on August 17, 2010, via Rock Ridge Music. The album is not live in the sense of a traditional live album in front of an audience; rather, it was recorded in the studio (The Treehouse in Laurel Canyon outside Los Angeles) with Firstman playing and singing simultaneously to achieve a more live sound in the finished songs. The CD version will include eight tracks while the iTunes download version will contain ten (see track listing at left).
Says Firstman of the album: “Everything is in line on ‘Treehouse.’ It's how I sound right now. It's an appropriate snapshot of my life and my sound. I think Mike [Vicarra, the producer] did a good job recording my voice and presenting my music. I wanted it to be a recording that would flow smoothly from beginning to end.”
A number of the tracks are reworkings of older, already-released songs, while two (“Speak Your Mind” and “Fight Song” [only a live version has been released]) were never released previously in studio versions but have been part of Firstman’s live set for a while. One song, “Middle Ground,” is brand new and features Jay Buchanan (of Rival Sons) singing lead vocals; another is a cover (“Mrs. Rosenthal,” penned by Brian Wright who is also featured on “Fight Song”). Also joining Firstman on other tracks are Jamie Drake (“Marlene And Her Sisters”), Mike Vizcarra (“Everything Is A Crime”), and Tim Jones and Walker Young, both of Truth & Salvage Co. (on “Pretty Things”).
Says the Hermosa Beach, CA, Easy Reader of Firstman’s sound these days – the one he sought to capture on “Live At The Treehouse”: “Firstman... has stripped back his music from the ‘professional badass ninja’ full band ensembles of his early years to just his voice, guitar, and songs alone on the stage. Along the way, something fundamental has happened. Firstman’s early music was wildly exuberant, frenetic, sometimes frantic – ‘one fluid flow of mania,’ as he has described it. Now he’s slowed it down. Every note counts. His music has grown more ragged, simple, and truthful.”
“Live At The Treehouse” is the follow-up to Firstman’s early 2010 release, “El Porto.” He plans to continue touring in support of the new disc; he usually clocks in over 200 shows per year. Already in 2010, he has hit the road first with The White Buffalo, labelmate Ernie Halter, Josh Hoge, and Jay Nash, will play some shows with Matt Duke and Keaton Simons, and dates with BJ Barham and Jay Buchanan begin in August (see tour schedule below). He is also confirmed to perform at the second annual Hotel Carolina Singer-Songwriter Festival in late August. In the past, he’s toured with folks like Sheryl Crow, Jewel and Willie Nelson.
Prior to “El Porto,” which was released on Rock Ridge Music, Firstman put out a full-length (“The War of Women”) and an EP (“Wives Tales”) on Atlantic, plus another full-length (“DrAma”) and live EP (“Live at The Sandbox”), which were released independently. Firstman has sold over 40,000 albums to date. In 2009, Firstman’s full-time, four-year job as bandleader on “Last Call with Carson Daly” ended in when the show was restructured.