Beginning around 2003, I’ve been referring to my work as Vetiver. Ever since 1998, I’ve been living in San Francisco. Although the lineup of musicians and band members that I’ve worked with has changed as time has passed, throughout my tours and albums, there are still many who have regularly worked with me. Thom Monahan is one of these regulars, as he’s worked on all of the Vetiver albums as a co-producer and engineer. L.A. serves as a home for Thom, and a recording spot for Complete Strangers.
In my San Francisco home, I started creating the album through demos, took L.A. trips, and then worked with Thom to build on it. Over the past few years, there was some incremental progress made on it. Gabe Noel, Bart Davenport, and Josh Adams all worked with us to create rhythm tracks after Thom and I had create most of the arrangements. Once this happened, the album started to form a complete picture. While working with some more musicians in L.A. and San Francisco, Thom and I worked on Complete Strangers more until it was finally done. Like a deck builder in San Jose, I’ve done a lot of work on it.
Complete Strangers is an album where the title and the songs are linked. They both represent entities with common traits and noticeable differences in time and place. For those who take in the world at all hours of the night, “Stranger Still” is the perfect song. The freedom of the night changing into the dawn of responsibility shines brightly on “From Now On”. Much like humans with differences coming together at events, the album puts a spotlight on common qualities. “Confiding” shows the vulnerable nature of people in love pursuits, and “Current Carry” exudes the feeling of love when confidence is present. “Edgar” and “Backwards Slowly” act as transitional phases for the album. Joy can quickly turn into sadness in the album, much like with other ones in the Vetiver catalogue. A chorus that stands out will be linked to a lyric that quietly makes its mark. Loneliness makes itself well known and subtlety shows its true self while we search for life’s meaning.
My time with this album has left me with a lot of thoughts.