About GET GONE:
To look at its beginnings, Dennis Crommett's new album GET GONE could've been called The Dancer and The Fox.
In Summer 2021, a friend shared an interview with legendary choreographer Martha Graham, where Graham encourages a self-doubting young colleague to "keep the channel open." Speaking to an individual's creativity, Graham told her, "if you block it, it will never exist ... It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions."
For Crommett, these felt like marching orders: it was time to open up the channel, put comparison in the back seat, and get working. After a long drought of songwriting, Crommett began a morning freewriting practice, filling two or three pages first thing in the morning with whatever his unconscious had on its mind: the line of police cars on the highway the day before, the heartbreaks that never quite go away, even the sound of birds outside -- deafening when seeking calm in an emotionally challenging summer.
Cut to a year later, songs piling up, the gremlins of Comparison and Ego getting less of a voice. Crommett was doing dishes in the kitchen, when his wife played a viral video of banjo player Andy Thorn playing to a fox outside his home in Colorado. "What is that you're listening to?" Something in that spontaneous and joyful video felt so right to Crommett: could music be this simple, this positive, and even "elemental?"
It was time to open up the channel even further. Soon after seeing that video, Crommett got in touch with three previous collaborators from his 2011 album In the Buffalo Surround, whose attitude and approach fit this new elemental vibe: bassist and local music mystic Ray Mason, drummer Jason Smith (Opal Canyon, Fancy Trash), and guitarist/producer Dave Chalfant (The Nields), who Crommett had recently been working with on projects of Chalfant's. Crommett later asked new friend Jeff Hobbs to add keyboards to the record.
As plans took shape, there was one word in the center of this ever-opening channel: Vision. Having spent the majority of his music-making as part of two collaborative bands (Spanish For Hitchhiking and Winterpills), it was time to make a record that fit Crommett's specific vision.
That vision? Serve the songs, keep it simple and classic, and leave perfectionism at the door. Crommett asked Chalfant (electric guitar) to not necessarily come up with riffs or parts per se; just find a good earthy sound like one might hear on Allison Krauss and Robert Plant's Raising Sand, or Bob Dylan's Time Out of Mind, and follow the chords, accenting where needed. For Western Massachusetts music icon Ray Mason (bass), it was an easy conversation: "Just do the Ray Mason thing," that being playing bass like one might hear on a Van Morrison or Rolling Stones record. Still, Crommett directed Mason to balance melodic parts with more straight ones, to create contrast. Similar was the conversation with Jason Smith (drums), whose drumming in both roots and alternative rock bands would suit these songs, as would his and Crommett's shared love of drummer Jay Bellerose. Crommett kept this vision in mind for himself when recording the vocals and acoustic guitars at home, keeping to just a few tracks of each, working to just serve the song with an expressive vocal performance.
These visions and conversations came together on "Hard Candy," which Crommett told the band should sound like "a midwestern landscape with a thunderstorm approaching." To accomplish that, Crommett asked Smith to play one drum part that kept the train-like beat, and a second, lower part, that would play the role of the thunderstorm. The mournful, poetic lyrics about a now-faded love affair wrought with deception float atop the desolate landscape: "I guess you were more pigeon than dove / More sugar, cream, more cheek than love."
On "Easy to Run," Crommett asked the band to lean into what Smith later described as a "soft rhumba," conjuring the 60's sound of the Zombies, as well as a nod to Latin rhythms. Again reflecting on a relationship gone wrong, this time Crommett's protagonist found that it was he who had to go: "Remember asking 'Did we choose it right?' / In the car, by the porch light / I said goodbye without a kiss goodnight, you made it easy to run."
And for title track "Get Gone," we see the fruits of the freewrites, bringing imagery of cars into several vignettes of loss; from a line of police cars on their way to bury a fellow officer, to memories of high school summer romance, now long in the rearview: "She's faded like the paint on the hood of her car / Nights in July, out in the field, we would get gone / I never told her how bright the stars seemed." For the band, this was to be a "driving" song in the verses, blasting down the highway; but then in the chorus, opening up sonically to the more personal plea for his love to come back.
Now, in April 2023, Crommett is pleased to present the results of opening the channel, seeking the elemental, and holding fast to a vision: Get Gone, a new 10-song album by Dennis Crommett.