Artlessness

by Leaf Crown

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about

Leaf Crown ‘Artlessness’

This is an intensely personal album for me. I wrote this record, ‘Artlessness,' after having lived in Australia for about five years. I’d formed a band, ‘The Atlas Mountains’, made a few records with them, and had been dating a girl for about 18 months when my work visa fell through and I had to return home to Chattanooga, Tennessee. At 28, I moved back in with my parents and got a job selling mattresses.

I wrote this album pretty much at work, in the mattress store. I was often in the shop by myself, and when there were no customers, I’d throw in a dip and take out my 3/4 size yamaha acoustic guitar from under the desk. And I’d write.

As dumb as it sounds, I don’t think I really planned to record and release this album, at least initially. I just had to keep myself busy. Songwriting has always been a form of therapy for me. If I write songs, exercise, and don’t spend too much time alone and/or drinking, I'm all good.

These songs were written over 12 months and serve as a kind of time capsule for that period of my life. From the moment I realised I would be leaving Australia, my band and the woman I loved; through the uncertainty of a long (long) distance relationship; through emails and Skype and sleepless nights; to having my bandmate/Jeweller friend, Scott, design and smuggle me an engagement ring; to meeting up halfway in Hawaii and asking Antonella to marry me.

When I listen back to these songs, I feel a sense of peace, on the other side of knowing. But I can also feel the loneliness embedded in so many of these words. And I think maybe there is a bit of a shift in this record. The highs and lows of loving someone you can’t see or hold. Of missing someone. Of questioning yourself. Of being forced to make adult decisions and be willing to deal with the consequences. Of having your heart being torn between two continents.

Antonella and I were separated about a year and a half. I saw her once in Hawaii when I asked her to marry me (my brother was stationed there at the time) and once in Malaysia, where I was a groomsmen in our friends’ wedding.

So basically, these songs are dedicated to my wife, Antonella. They were written and recorded for her while I was back in Chattanooga, gaining weight, being forced to shave and wear a tie everyday while ‘slingin’ springs’ (inside mattress sales lingo).

I was fortunate enough to assemble an incredible group of musicians including my very close friend and guitar slinger, Matt Lewis, along with Shaking Ray Levi Society founder and drum guru Bob Stagner, Ross Carlson, mad scientist engineer/owner of Red Crow Studios in Chattanooga, and also the incredibly kind and talented Marc ‘Buddy T’ Trovillian, of Lambchop fame.

We spent a good amount of time together in early 2012, hanging out, rehearsing, and making several road trips to Nashville to record with one of my studio heroes and Buddy T’s good friend, Mark Nevers (who has recorded everyone from George Jones to Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy). When I told Mark I would like some steel guitar on a few of the tracks, he called up multi-instrumentalist Chris Scruggs, who was there within an hour, setting up his rig. He asked what key the first song was in and said, ‘roll the tape.’ Before I knew what was happening he was laying down some freakishly good lines on the lap steel, which impressed and depressed me at the same time.

I went to college in Nashville and have always loved it there. Especially in Springtime. Even with my allergies. And that’s what I think about and remember when I think about this album. Sitting outside Bongo Java eating breakfast. Throwing darts. Drinking beer. Buying enough records to make sure Grimey’s stayed in business. It was Spring 2012 in Tennessee, it was warming up and everything was blooming.

I knew I was going to return to Australia in a few short months and marry the love of my life. But I didn’t know that I would only see Buddy T a few more times. I received word of Buddy T’s passing last October, while I was in Berlin. I was crushed. We had spoken through email and I was looking forward to seeing him again in just a few short weeks.

This album was written for my wife, but it has taken on an even deeper, more precious meaning for me, as I look back on it and remember with great fondness the time spent with Buddy T and the others rehearsing at Red Crow, of sitting on Mark’s porch eating bbq and chess pie, laughing, and talking about music. Listening to Buddy T’s stories about life on the road and dreaming about a European tour together. Feeling hopeful and grateful to be alive and making music.

After he passed, I knew I had to release this music, as one of the last records he played on.

I’d like to dedicate this album to his memory. I’m very grateful that we became friends and I'm honoured to have known him in this life. Now, when I listen back to these tracks, I listen for the bass. And I think of Buddy T and springtime in Tennessee and having the time of my life and laughing my ass off with a wonderful group of musicians.

So yeah, this album is important and it’s a part of me. The title ‘Artlessness’ comes from a quote I read, attributed to Claude Debussy. Whether or not it’s accurate, I no longer care, but the words still resonate with me: ‘I want to sing my interior landscape with the simple artlessness of a child.’

That’s what I tried to do with this record. I tried to make something simple and from the gut. I tried my best to avoid pretension or use any dazzling arrangements. That seemed important to me at the time.

It’s my hope that you, dear reader/listener, will take this record (paid, copied, free) and listen to it all the way through just once. It’s less than 40 minutes.

That would make me so happy. I spent a couple hundred hours, a few thousand dollars, and a lot of time alone in a mattress store making this record. And I’m proud of it.

It means a lot to me and hopefully it’ll mean something to you.

Thanks so much for reading.

God bless,

T.W. Smith (Leaf Crown)

credits

released September 9, 2014

All songs written and performed by T.W. Smith.

Copyright 2012 Leaf Crown Music.

Adriatic Boast Records.

Mixed and recorded in Mar/April 2012 by Mark Nevers, Beech House Studios, Nashville, Tennessee.

Musicians: T.W. Smith-guitar/piano, Matt Lewis-guitars, Bob Stagner-drums/percussion, Ross Carlson-guitars, Mark 'Buddy T' Trovillian-bass/keys

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about

Leaf Crown Perth, Australia

Born in Memphis, raised in Chattanooga, educated in Nashville, currently living in Western Australia.

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Track Name: Antonella
Antonella
Darling, I love you so
But I fear I must go
I just don't think I can stay here no more
So please, come with me

Antonella
Darling, I don't know what to say
But I fear I can't stay
And I just don't wanna leave things this way
So please, come with me

I'll take you out of this town
I'll take you over and around
And every sight, every sound
That we find will be ours just to keep
I don't know what to say
Just let me love you, I pray
And I won't ever leave

Antonella
Darling, I don't know what to do
Cause my heart's here with you
And I just don't wanna say that we're through
So please, come with me

I'll take you out of this town
I'll take you over and around
And every sight, every sound
That we find will be ours just to keep
I don't know what to say
Just let me love you, I pray
And I won't ever leave
Track Name: Happiness is a Loaded Gun
Happiness is a loaded gun
There should be laws, but I know of none
Wave it around and man you'll have some fun
But when it backfires watch the whole world run

Carry it with you carefully
Or you'll wind up wounded like me

Happiness is a loaded gun
light as a feather but the guilt weighs a ton
Hold on tight and you'll protect all your friends
But when the chamber's empty you're alone again

Carry it with you carefully
Or you'll wind up wounded like me

Happiness is a loaded gun
So lock it up and don't you show no one
I did one time to this beautiful girl
She shot me down and made off with the world

Carry it with you carefully
Or you'll wind up wounded like me

So aim it high, shooting stars up there
Burning bright in the cold, crisp air
No one knows and no one cares
That they've been dead for thousands of years

Carry it with you carefully
Or you'll wind up wounded like me
Track Name: Sink or Swim
You said yourself a time or two
The only way two people knew
If their love was real, was to try
I know there is no guarantee
If we'll work it out or be saying goodbye
But I don't know what I would do
Without your love and without you, it's true
I'm aching just to see you again
Oh just take me out into the deep end, babe
I'm ready now, it's sink or it's swim

'Cause love'll take you under, make you wonder
If you're coming up at all this time, this time
And love will lift you up and get you stuck
up in the clouds so high, so high
And even though we're scared and not prepared
You know we still gotta try
Well, I've been waiting for you darling
Yes and soon I will be holding you tight

Inside that perfect heart you hold
I see a woman strong and bold
And so I anchor myself to you
And I'm completely at your mercy
Babe and even if it hurts me
I'll be true
While you're an ocean width away
And my tonight is your today, but hey
I'll be ready when I see you again
Oh, just take me out into the deep end, babe
I'm ready now it's sink or it's swim

'Cause love'll take you under, make you wonder
If you're coming up at all this time, this time
And love will lift you up and get you stuck
up in the clouds so high, so high
And even though we're scared and not prepared
You know we still gotta try
Well, I've been waiting for you darling
Yes and soon I will be holding you tight

There is no one I'd rather have
Or that I feel I need so bad
Or that I'd spend my last cent on
There are so many things I'm not
But all I am and all I've got is yours alone
But I don't know just where to start
I swear the hardest freaking part for me
With anything's always to begin
Oh just take me out into the deep end, babe
I'm ready now, it's sink or it's swim
Track Name: Heartfelt Prayers
Maybe someone out there cares
And feels the pain in my heartfelt prayers
There's only so much a man can take
Before he falls into temptation and his own heart breaks

This pain, oh, it's all I have
I said this pain is all I have

Maybe someone out there knows
Love's under cover working in plain clothes
I feel it pouring forth from everywhere
If I was drunk enough I'd tell you now
But I don't dare

Because this hope, oh, it's all I have
I said this hope is all I have

I feel it now, yeah, it's in my grasp
We'll fall in love and that love will last
And now it's part of our repertoire
It's no wonder there's no other
Because I know who you are

But this pain, oh, it's all I have
I said this pain is all I have

Maybe someone out there sees
The blackened forest for the charcoal trees
The flaming future's really come this far
And now my heart is truly heavy
For whoever you are

But this breath, oh, it's all I have
I said this breath is all I have
Track Name: I Miss You So Much, Darling
I miss you so much, darling
My every thought's of you
There's not a moment in my day at all
When that statement isn't true
But you're a hemisphere away
And I'm back home in Tennessee
I miss you so much, darling
And I wish you were here with me

I miss you so much, darling
I miss all the little things
The way you look in the morning
And the joy that it brings
Even though you're miles away
I know we'll work things out somehow
I miss you so much, darling
And I wish you were here with me now

Oh, I miss you so much, darling
And it tears my heart in two
When I think about the distance
That is keeping me from you
I know this isn't what we planned
But just know that for while we're apart
I miss you so much, darling
But you're right here in my heart
Track Name: Debonair
Off the cuff, unprepared
You're always walking on air
You said the devil may care
But that you don't, no, you don't
Debonair, I wish I could be that debonair

But my mind works overtime
Weighing the facts
And it just can't relax
Like a sailor with a storm-born prayer
But I'm trying to be
A little bit more debonair

Our love
checks all the above
Patient and fair
insouciant where and when it need be
She's lovely and rare
And she helps to feel
Just like I'm really debonair

Oh I have to admit
It's so nice just to get
To feel so debonair
Track Name: Lawless Border
I'd been afraid of love for nearly most my life
And I never knew if I'd find a wife
I guess my own set of fears always kept me
Just at arms length
And I swore to myself I would not repeat
What the previous men in my family tree did
When they cut off our branch to graft it to
Soemthing that never could be

But there you were
With a beauty and grace that made my poor heart stir
You made me rethink my entire life
I just want to have you right here by my side
Oh here you are, oh Mia Stella, my beautiful star
I love all you are, it's true
I don't know what you see in me
But I'm glad you do

I'd understand if your dad don't like me much
'Cause I've got no money or career as such
But what I've got is my heart and my word
And I give them to you
If you can understand my need to write and sing
I can scratch out a living somehow eventually
From these haphazard songs of mine
I began to refine
When I finally found my muse

But there you were
With a beauty and grace that made my poor heart stir
You made me rethink my entire life
I just want to have you right here by my side
Oh here you are, oh Mia Stella, my beautiful star
I love all you are, it's true
I don't know what you see in me
But I'm glad you do

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared
But this time I think that my poor heart just might
Finally be prepared
When love comes through
There truly is no place to hide
Along that lawless border
That forms when two hearts first collide

But there you were
With a beauty and grace that made my poor heart stir
You made me rethink my entire life
I just want to have you right here by my side
Oh here you are, oh Mia Stella, my beautiful star
I love all you are, it's true
I don't know what you see in me
But I'm glad you do
Track Name: Pour Me Another
Pour me another
Glass of your finest wine
'Cause I just need
To forget her name tonight
Poor me, cause I just can't seem to get this right
Although I've tried

And I'll take another
To cut the pain I feel tonight
Cause all I have is gone
And it's just no use anymore in trying
Poor me, cause she just went and left me
Now I'm too numb to cry

You'll soon discover
That all your love is a packaged lie
And there's no one there
At the end of the line anymore
To hear your cries
So poor me, cause i just can't seem to get this right
Although I've tried
Track Name: Wedding Song
I guess I've always had something to say
But I held my breath when you walked in the room
The world just stopped and when you spoke to me
The world resumed
So many memories we've shared since then
Every one I have held on tight to keep
Like the night that I first kissed you
And then held you as we both fell asleep

There's nothing you can say or do now, baby
To make me change my mind
I've known life with and without you
And your love's still by far the best thing a man can find
And wherever we may go
I just want you to know
That I love you more than you could
Ever, ever, ever know

Well you've been with me a few years now
But I still hold my breath when you walk in the room
You're the one I've always longed for
And you're still the one I want to hold on to
And it must be hard to live with me
And my often somewhat out there point of view
But darling it's the great joy of my lifetime
Just to know that my future's here with you

There's nothing you can say or do now, baby
To make me change my mind
I've known life with and without you
And your love's still by far the best thing a man can find
And wherever we may go
I just want you to know
That I love you more than you could
Ever, ever, ever know
Track Name: Your Love is My Home
Seems like we've tried for so long to beat this
This fear, yeah, it's still here
But let's be clear I'm not leaving

Cause your love's become my home
I said your love
It is my home

This love is enough to keep me going and grounded
I've roamed far alone but now I've finally found it

It's your love that's my home
I said your love
Is now my home

We both have hope in the good things that bind us
Hold tight, babe, we just might
Put this old world behind us

It's your love that's my home
I said your love
It is my home

Some day I may just go on and leave it
Behind babe but don't mind
Cause you know where I'll be returning

To your love, it's my home
I said your love
Is now my home