Originally from Eugene, Oregon and now living in Los Angeles, Greg Felden has been a stalwart on the LA live music scene for years. His music is influenced by the folk and country music he grew up on, early alt-county/Americana artists, and the indie songwriters of the Pacific Northwest. Showing his surprising range, from gentle folk ballads to rock and roll, Made of Strings is Felden’s first full-length record and focuses on what it means to be human. Songs about love, our place in the universe and how we make sense of our lives.
Produced and mixed by Al Sgro and Will Golden (Eric Hutchinson, Joe Purdy, Brian Wright), the album employs a host of musicians with a shared history (Full Line-up below including known musicians Jerry Borger, Brian Whelan, Rich Hinman and Brian Wright). “All of the players are great individually,” Felden informs, “but this is also a case of the sum being greater than its parts, too. These guys have a shared language and experience that not only made the process easy, it brought out the best in all of them. There was a synergy that is tough to describe and doesn’t come along often.”
Made of Strings is a collection of ten raw and heartfelt tunes, and it should be mentioned that it’s dedicated to Samantha Morris; Felden’s girlfriend who was fighting cancer during the recording and passed away just after the record was finished. “The songs were all written beforehand, but Samantha was there for the entire process,” Felden explains. “Take You Back Home’ is an older tune that became very significant when she was sick. She had a very strong emotional reaction to it. I think of it as her song now.” The song is a wistful lament that looks up and still sees the sun shining through the trees. “If you find yourself on an island | Feeling out of reach and chilled to the bone | Everyone is gone without explanation | I will mend your coat | I will find a boat |And take you back home”
“When The Change Comes” was released as a single and album teaser last June and was shared on many Americana music outlets. It was also featured on the Showtime TV series, “The Affair”. The song was originally inspired by the idea that we are living with end of the world scenarios and mass tragedies as part of our everyday awareness. “It became a metaphor for what life throws at us and how different people react and respond,” Felden observed.
The title track, “Made of Strings” was partly inspired by nineteenth century American hymns and actually refers to String theory. “The song comes from my idea that people’s view of the universe—whether it’s warm and forgiving or cold and harsh or whatever a person feels—is really impossible to separate from our most formative experiences,” he points out. “I find the hymns to be soothing and comforting but I can’t relate to them very well. I was curious to see how or if I could bring that sound and quality into our modern sensibility. We had an amazing time finding the soundscape at the beginning of the tune, which is meant to place the song against the background of the universe.”
The album ends with “Ghosts”, a sparse guitar and organ-led piece conjuring atmosphere and introspection. Another soul-searcher, it examines the way we’re affected by not only our own individual past, but also our collective past as cultures and humans.
Although Made of Strings is his first official release, Greg Felden has been playing music for many years. He learned to play the violin as a kid, and picked up the guitar in high school. “For many years it was me and an acoustic guitar,” he notes. “I made an acoustic EP a few years back that was really only to sell at shows. For this record, I really trusted the process and the team I brought on board and wanted to find out what we could create together, while staying true to the intent of the songs. Letting go was challenging at times, but I knew I was with good people. And I believe that if a song is good, it will show. Al and Will have a style they’ve honed over many years, and all of the players have worked with them on many projects. There was a shorthand and a joy to the process because of that.”
Sincerity is at the heart of Greg Felden’s songwriting and the production never gets in the way of his strong, clear voice. Made of Strings is a dynamic, impassioned collection of songs exploring the cosmic questions of what it all means and how we fit in the universe. Reflecting on some heavy themes the album nevertheless leaves you looking hopefully towards the future.