Bob Andrews’ New New Mexico Album
When comparing yourself as a songwriter to Nick Lowe and Graham Parker, it can be hard to find the inspiration to write your own songs. That’s what Bob Andrews, who played keyboards with Lowe in Brinsley Schwarz, and backed up Graham Parker in the Rumour, was up against when he returned to writing songs.
“I’ve always worked with really great other songwriters. Part of my upbringing I was with Nick Lowe and then Graham. And both of them were very prolific and very good tune and songsmiths. They just wrote good songs,” Andrews said.
“It was very hard for me to have the confidence about myself. And that’s mostly my own fault,” he said.
But after moving to Taos, New Mexico in 2014 and then living alone, the songs on his new album, Alone, came.
“I ended up in Taos on my own and it’s been the first time since I was a teenager that I was on my own. Because since I was 17 I’ve been in bands and mostly you’re either sharing the same apartment or same house or sharing the same hotel room. So you’re never on your own. The song ‘Alone’ was written mostly after I got here when I was first on my own in Taos.”
Alone is the title track on Andrews’ recently released digital album of eight songs and is available on his website.
The album was self-recorded in his home studio, with Andrews playing keyboards and some guitar and drums, with other parts done on his computer. The only other people are the on the album are background vocalists and a banjo player on the song ‘Alone.’ He had made previous records on a computer so, as he said, “I am very experienced with making records in the box as it were.”
He also had produced dozens of records in the 1980s in his native England and in the United States and was used to live bands, sometimes big budgets, and studios.
“I know how to make records. I know what contributes to making records, I know how a bass should operate. I know where the notes are. I know where things should go in the mix. I like to think so anyway,” Andrews said. “So that’s why I enjoy doing it myself. It’s fun, too.”
Andrews wasn’t a completely novice songwriter. He had contributed songs to two Rumour albums. In the eighties he had a contract with Warner Chappell Music and published about 20 songs, mostly co-writes. He also wrote songs for the albums he put out while living in New Orleans, his home before moving to New Mexico.
It was the solitary nature of his life in New Mexico, and the landscape, that fueled the songs on Alone.
“I was enjoying the fact that I’d never been on my own and it was a very interesting personal experience to me,” Andrews said.
“Through the years of me living here, these are the songs that started to come out. Reflections, not specific relationships, objective observations of my own feelings I guess, and realizing that some of the things that I didn’t realize over the years about myself and about other people and relationships and love. So there’s a lot of things that over this last period, these last few years, that have come out of that. I’m going, ‘I’m actually not too bad here.’ And that’s where this album came about.”
Some songs came about, Andrews said, just by driving around the state and singing into his phone. One standout track, “Living in the Land of Family Dollar,” came after he flew back from a gig in England and drove past, it seemed, endless numbers of Family Dollar stores.
“And I was just thinking about the fact that there are so many of these. They appear in places where you know they could really do with a fresh brewed supermarket. And instead, they’re a reflection of what’s going on in parts of our society. It’s very unfortunate. It’s pathetic, really, and the way they operate and take advantage of people because there is nothing else there.”
“Then those lines came out, ‘Calling out, making a noise.’ “When we’re upset it’s what you do. ‘Coming apart at broken seams.’ I sort of realized what I was writing about,” Andrews said. “I’m quite proud of it.”
Other songs on the album are the yearning “Distant Girl” and the moody and confessional “Drinking and Lying.”
The COVID-19 lockdown gave him the time, and a purpose, to put the final touches on Alone, which he began recording in 2019.
“I’m very lucky, very fortunate that I’m having this very creative period,” he said.