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John Howard Talks About His Album Dry Run

In 2011 John Howard released a new album Dry Run. Essentially it contained the stripped down demos for his 2009 album Navigate Home and featured just John's voice and his piano. Here he explains some of the thinking behind the release.

What was the thinking behind releasing the demo tracks as an entire album and who is the album aimed at?

John - I'm hoping that Dry Run - The Navigate Home demos will appeal to all those who like to hear me at the piano with no added backing and recorded live in the studio. The tracks featured are the original piano and voice demos I recorded for Navigate Home. They were never intended to be issued in their own right. However, I featured a couple of other recordings from those demo sessions on the 2010 compilation Making Tracks and received a lot of positive responses to those recordings and decided to have another proper listen to all the demos I made whilst in the rental cottage in Pembrokeshire while waiting for the imminent move to Southern Spain in the early summer of 2007. Earlier this year myself and my partner sat down and listened to the 15 tracks we had demo'd for Navigate Home and decided they presented the songs in a totally new and different light and deserved to be heard.

So what is the difference between Dry Run and Navigate Home?

John - As those who bought Navigate Home will know, the album was a sumptuous strings and harmony drenched affair, rich in sonic and musical textures, which took over a year to record. These demo versions, on the other hand, are simple, straightforward unadorned pieces that I hope show a glimpse of myself working through brand new songs and refining them before I put them down on tape. You could say I was producing the bare framework for the eventual album.

Are there any differences in content between Dry Run and Navigate Home?

John - Yes there are two previously unreleased songs - In Your Dreams and Genius - on Dry Run. Both were originally intended for Navigate Home but were left off that set as so often happens when so much material is composed over such a short period of time. They are now presented in their sparsest setting of piano and voice and I hope listeners will agree that they are well worth their inclusion.

Are there any other differences in individual songs between the two albums?

John - Well for those who like to spot these things check out A Wardrobe Dreams on Dry Run. It has a totally different ending to the Navigate Home version and there are some slightly altered lyrics on Miss Ashton's Disappointment. I hope that these works in progress offer many such insights. Change (Who Changed?) feels bare yet poignant here with the single vocal line telling the stories of the doomed lovers and without the multi layered vocal harmonies that were a feature of the "final" version. Notes to Self, without the cellos thudding away behind the multi-tracked vocals, now takes on an almost folk song quality, with the complex piano motif now displayed in all its finger-bending glory! The Leaving (Prayer) is, on this demo version, even more touching, stripped of the strings wash and answer vocals that adorned the Navigate Home recording. The desolation of the song's subject is starkly on show. Overall I am hoping that this will give everyone a fascinating "before and after look" at my creative process.

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Dry Run is available to buy via John's Shop by clicking here. priced at 3.50 in a slimline jewel case with a two page booklet note written by John. The album is also available from I Tunes at 3.49 for three months and 4.49 after that. Dry Run is also available on other legal download sites.