A little cover art

While the mastering studio is wrapping up the audio for “It’s Time,” I’m also working with a friend of mine — and former colleague from Marquette University — Sharon Grace on the design and layout of the album itself. Both should be done by the middle of this week, which means we’re literally only days away from release!

I decided to go with the eco-wallet packaging. For years the music industry used jewel cases for CDs — and many releases still come this way. They’re the hard plastic cases that we’re used to seeing when we buy CDs — and what I used for “Pure Inspirations,” “Come Run With Me,” “One Step Forward” and “Carry On.” But in today’s increasingly sustainable and ‘green’ society, it turns out that those cases are not the greatest for the environment because of the amount of plastic they use and their shipping weight.

Then came “digipaks.” They replaced the plastic of a jewel case with a cardboard-like material that’s usually made with recycled paper. And since the only plastic in this casing is the tray that holds the CD in place, it ends up using 63% less plastic! This is what I used for “Daily Bread,” “Be With Me” and “CFL Live.”

The eco-wallet is a new option that’s even greener than the digipak. It uses no plastic and is made entirely from premium recycled stock. The CD fits into a die-cut sleeve rather than a plastic snap-in tray. And the entire product is much lighter than a jewel case or digipak, making it cheaper (and more environmentally responsible) to ship. Plus, I feel it’s a much more practical CD case given that most of us don’t keep the cases around for very long anymore.

Now that this tutorial is over, I can share with you the real reason for this post — my cover art! Sharon didn’t have too much work to do here since I used a photo instead of actual art. This is one of my favorite pictures from my year in Europe. It was taken in the town of Lindau, Germany, a Bavarian town that sits on the southern tip of Lake Constance, just minutes from Austria and Switzerland. Lindau is a quaint, well-preserved German town with gorgeous views of Lake Constance and the Swiss Alps. The photo is of the Lindau lighthouse which is a commanding site to see when standing on the water’s edge. I remember seeing it for the first time in May – on a stop from Munich to Basel by train – and thinking to myself, “This is exactly where I’m supposed to be right now. We were meant to come to Europe.” I had such an overwhelming feeling of peace and confidence at that point. I think that’s part of the reason why the photo became one of my favorites.

I used a filter to give it an Instagram-like look and Sharon added in two simple fonts for the title and my name. She also took the lighthouse’s clock (which sits on the other side of the lighthouse) and popped it in to this photo to help with the message of “time.”

Original photos:

Lindau Germany lighthouse

Lindau Germany lighthouse

CD cover:

It's Time Matt Wessel album cover

The rest of the CD has additional photos and design elements, but you’ll have to buy the album to see those! : )

You can also find more photos from my trip to Lindau on my Flickr page.

Prayer of St. Francis

Waiting for a new album to be made publicly available is like a 6-year-old waiting for Christmas morning. And just as a child might be given a gift on Christmas Eve or even earlier to satisfy the need to open at least one present, I always like posting one song in its entirety before the whole album is made available for purchase.

So my gift to you — “Prayer of St. Francis” from my new CD. It’s the only religious song on the album. I plan on doing an all-religious album in the next year or two, but I chose to put “Prayer of St. Francis” on this album because I wanted its message of peace and love to reach all audiences, not just those interested in liturgical music.

I’ve wanted to write a musical version of St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer for years, but every time I sat down to work on a melody, nothing sounded right. Things finally clicked for me late one night in Munich this past spring. I retreated into the bedroom after dinner to play the piano and try and write some new material for the album. I kept the lights off so that I was playing in a mostly dark room. I wasn’t planning on working on this text, but as I started to play the beginning chords, the song sort of just wrote itself from there. From beginning to end, the song took about 5 minutes to write. Sure, there was tweaking afterwards, but the core of the song — the original MP3 of which I still have (I always record my brainstorming sessions so I don’t forget the melodies later) — took only a few minutes to write. Like I said, it just sort of wrote itself, almost as if there was a higher power at work.

As for the recording, I chose to use a guitar instead of a piano. My good friend Chad Griesel recorded both a strummed part and a picked part from his basement in Wisconsin and sent them to me via ‘the Cloud.’ I then layered the two parts and added my voice. I was working on harmonies when I made the decision that this song would be infinitely more powerful with just a solo voice, giving the listener a better reason to truly hear the words.

I hope you find the prayer’s text as inspiring as I always have. And I hope you like my musical interpretation. Enjoy!

Audio of “Prayer of St. Francis”

Lyrics to “Prayer of St. Francis”

Make me an instrument of peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon let me bring.
Where there is doubt, let me sow the awesome power of faith.
Where there’s despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me give light.
When life is sad, let me spread happiness and joy.

And grant that I may
Never so much seek to be consoled as console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love,
To be loved as to love,
As to love.

For it is in giving that we receive.
And it is in pardoning, we find our pardon.
And it is in dying that we are born,
Born to eternal life.
Amen.

Make me an instrument, an instrument of peace.

“Prayer of St. Francis” is a song off of Matt’s newest album, “It’s Time,” a collection of 11 original songs released in January, 2013. For more information on how to purchase, please visit www.mattwesselmusic.com.

Wherever You Go

As I count down the days until “It’s Time” is available for purchase, I thought it would be interesting to write blogs about one or two of the new tracks.

“Wherever You Go” is one of the truly new, never-before-heard songs which make up over half of the album’s 11 tracks. This particular song is about my relationship with my wife, Katie, built around our decision of whether or not to move to Munich, Germany. When I was weighing the pros and cons of going versus staying, I came to a realization that I was far less scared of a potential move because I knew I’d be doing it with Katie. I realized that I didn’t really care where I lived or what I did, as long as I was with my wife.

The concept of ‘wherever you go I will follow’ is hardly new. The Book of Ruth in the Old Testament says:

“Where you go, I will go. And where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and Your God, my God.” (Ruth 1:16)

As you can imagine, this piece of scripture has been used for ages at weddings. It’s the perfect message for two individuals coming together as one; a perfect message of unity. And there are no shortage of songs with this text, songs that are titled – as you would likely guess – “Wherever You Go.”

But this song isn’t a religious or liturgical song. It has a mainstream, pop feel and was written to be more of a love song to transcend cultures, ages and religions. The lyrics have the “wherever you go” message, but with a personal spin that ties in our Germany decision (“And now we have a choice to make.” “We’ll have the time of our lives.”). But in the end, the song is a love letter from me to Katie saying, “As long as I am here on this earth, I will go wherever you go and be by your side.”

Audio Sample of “Wherever You Go”

Lyrics to “Wherever You Go”

From the day we started
My heart and mind, they always knew
That this world I live in would mean nothing without you.

And now we have a choice to make.
Which way to go, which path to take.
The one less traveled or the one we’re walking through?

Every indication says the time is right.
Every explanation: you and I.

As long as the sun still shines in bright blue skies
And dark nights turn to morning
As long as the stars tell time
I’ll go where you go
No matter the path we weave or the scars we leave
Or the fate that we are given
As long as my body breathes
I’ll go wherever you go.

Better days will find us.
Some days will hurt more than before.
But I’ll protect you when the rain begins to pour.

My life will never be the same.
The life I’ve started here will change.
But how amazing that my life will change with yours.

No more hesitation.
We’ll have the time of our lives.
Every indication says it’s time.

As long as the sun still shines in bright blue skies
And dark nights turn to morning
As long as the stars tell time
I’ll go where you go
No matter the path we weave or the scars we leave
Or the fate that we are given
As long as my body breathes
I’ll go wherever you go.

From this moment on I trust that we will always see the brighter side.
From this moment on I give to you all I have, what’s inside of me.
From this moment on I pray that God will walk with us, talk with us.
From this moment on where you live is my home.

No more hesitation.
We’ll have the time of our lives.
Every indication says it’s time.

As long as the sun still shines in bright blue skies
And dark nights turn to morning
As long as the stars tell time
I’ll go where you go
No matter the path we weave or the scars we leave
Or the fate that we are given
As long as my body breathes
I’ll go wherever you go.

(Visit my website for lyrics to all of my new songs.)

“Wherever You Go” is a song off of Matt’s newest album, “It’s Time,” a collection of 11 original songs released in January, 2013. For more information on how to purchase, please visit www.mattwesselmusic.com.

Almost time for “It’s Time”

I just uploaded all 11 tracks from the new album to a Nashville-based mastering studio that will help me put the finishing touches on each song. That step should take about a week and, once done, the album will make its way to iTunes!

So at this time I figured I could let everyone know what the name of the album will be. It’s called “It’s Time” and features a mix of familiar songs (as old as 2006) and several brand new ones written this year. In alphabetical order:

Doolin
Eileen’s Song
Eternity
If We Walk
It’s Time
Lorraine’s Song
My Love
Place of Mine
Prayer of St. Francis
This Could Be
Wherever You Go

I plan to share some audio samples this week, as well as the cover image. Stay tuned!

New album in the new year

Try as I might, I’m just not going to be able to get the new album out by the end of the year. (Although it will be very close.) At this point it looks like I’ll wrap up vocal recording this week and have final mixes by Christmas. But given the holiday rush, the studio that’s mastering the album won’t have it done until the first week of January. Once that’s done, it will only take a matter of days for it to appear on iTunes. So I’m hoping that everything will be pushed back just a couple of weeks.

When you spend so much time on a single project like this, the last thing you want to do is rush a component just to hit a meaningless release date. Still, I apologize for the delay. But it’s coming soon, I promise!

Getting close

As many of you know, I’ve been working on a new album since August. As of today, all that is left is to record one cello part and a few vocal parts. Once that’s wrapped up by the middle of next week, I’ll spent one final week of editing before sending the files to a mastering studio. I’m guessing that will take about a week. Once that’s done, the album will be ready to upload to iTunes!

I’ve always put a “December 2012” deadline on the album, but it might end up being the first or second week of January, with hard copies available closer to the end of that month. Either way — it’s very, very close. The songs are sounding really great and I can’t wait to share them all with you.

I’ll share some audio samples on the site once I have the final mixes in hand — before they’re available on iTunes!