story behind the release
‘weathering’ is the story of me losing hope, losing home, seeking clarity, and eventually finding my way back to life and light.
This is the story of the album 'weathering'
“the lost years”
I guess the story begins in 2015. A dream had fallen apart, I was sleeping on the floor of my studio, essentially homeless…making records for people during the day and spending my nights making the music that became my first two albums. I lacked the ability to understand how I ended up where I was, and music seemed to be the only truth I had access to. I had no capacity for thinking or words, all I could find was raw emotion. I spent years broken in that moment, stuck right there, until I could get quiet enough to hear nature calling me back to my childhood. The ocean, and then the wind, and then the trees slowly changed me. And eventually a single sunrise in 2019 put me right. I take videos of my piano improvisations, which is where all my pieces seem to begin. Vangelis said that he acted as a channel through which music emerged, and it’s the same for me. I don’t really feel like I write these pieces... they just seem to show up when my energy is right (or wrong in the right way). This improv first arrived on March 26, 2020 and I recorded the piano part immediately afterwards. My son Huck played the strummed guitars in the choruses two days later. I still smile every time I hear them. The prelude arrived in 2022… when I had some perspective on the time that had passed.
“above the mad river”
On a hike I experienced a moment where the wind suddenly stopped and the world got amazingly quiet just above the treeline. The river was far below, inaudible, and something about that silence brought back memories of times I so needed peace but didn’t know where to find it. It was always there… I just didn’t know where to look yet. The piano part for this one arrived on April 20, 2020. This was probably the hardest song for me to come to terms with. I want to thank Mary Bartlein for encouraging me to use the accordion more in my music... it appears on every track on the album and has a little moment of its own on the bridge of this song.
“instead I said goodbye”
In Jane Siberry’s song “Goodbye,” she sings “I went to say ‘I love you,’ but 'instead I said ‘goodbye’ ”… a line that has haunted me for years. So many times we ignore the truth that we know, choosing the easy answer, or the one that keeps things steady and seemingly safe. This song is not about me realizing that I was neither safe nor steady where I was, every cell of my body knew those truths, but is about the moment the only thing left to do was to go. The piano part for this piece arrived almost fully formed late one night at Will Ackerman’s studio in Vermont in June of 2018. This song set the mood and pace for the album. In hindsight it was also offering me some advice… but it took me some time to figure that out.
“the empty page”
Leaving the familiar was terrifying, but it allowed for a new beginning and gave me the opportunity to sit and think about what I wanted out of life. Not an easy conversation with myself, but starting from nothing is a good way to allow anything to be possible. Silence turns into music, the empty page asks for notes, or words, or color. The piano part for this one first appears on video on Sept 12, 2020. It has always felt like a bookend to “wednesday: in stillness” from my first album, each piece with a different awareness of what being alone is.
I’m getting older. I should thank Mike Rivard, bassist extraordinaire, for his guidance on this one. Mike encouraged me to play the melody with the fretless bass in the choruses and the song is better for it. April 23, 2020.
“the beach, the rain, and hope”
On April 18th, 2019, I met Sarah for the first time for a walk on the beach at the state park where we would eventually get married. It was raining, we knew little about each other, but something seemed promising. We walked and talked for a long time, slowly revealing ourselves, and starting to learn how to move together through the world. The first video of this waltz is actually from January of 2019… the piano frequently seems to know things I don’t know yet.
“the world with her in it”
This one is about walking next to the person who makes everything fall into place. I had started a practice of creating peaceful ambient spaces in music (which led to my elements albums) and was learning how to be at peace in my piano music as well. I think I was finding some calm in my life for the first time. April 2, 2020.
“when clouds give way to stars”
So much of the last few years has been about clarity, about learning to see myself, and learning to relax into a life that is full of exploration and gratitude. I remember sitting on the beach one night, watching the sky slowly shift with the faint light of the moon softly illuminating the clouds. As the clouds slowly evaporated a whole new world appeared, and it made me realize that what we can see at any given time is such a small part of what is really there. November 7, 2020.
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"We're used to confessional singer-songwriters sharing their deepest problems in words. Tom Eaton does it much more subtly and effectively with instrumental music. "weathering" is his emotionally resonant expression of the struggles, realizations, and hard-won satisfactions of mid-life."
- Stephen Hill, Hearts of Space
"I’ve had the pleasure to work with Tom Eaton for 13 years. I have always been aware of his work as a musician and have never known him to release anything to the world that wasn’t stellar and emotionally captivating. His new album, “weathering,” however is nothing less than a masterpiece. When you keep hitting replay 9 or 10 times you know you’re in the presence of something very rare. Though Tom has won numerous awards over the years, I have to believe that “weathering” will give Tom the audience he deserves. Did I hear someone say Grammy?"
- Will Ackerman, GRAMMY® award-winning founder of Windham Hill Records
"I'm fairly sure Tom Eaton just wants us all to cry. In calling upon music to help him work through the story of a dark time in his life and his eventual return to light, Eaton offers “weathering,” a collection of pieces that bare their souls – and his – in vignettes of raw intimacy. Each part of the story unfolds gracefully, in slowly evolving, vivid detail that dives straight to the listener's soul. Central to everything is Eaton's exquisite and heartfelt piano work, an expressive, engaging narrator speaking in a remarkably honest voice. Eaton, who plays every instrument here (with guitar help from son Huck on the opening track), builds gorgeous sonic environments around the piano, pulling its voice forward like it's emerging from a light fog. The real beauty of “weathering” stems from how Eaton's translation of his personal story becomes a universal key to our emotions. Each piece is likely to open some specific door (or several) within its listeners, related to their own travails and triumphs, making us feel this music very viscerally and individually. “weathering” is easily one of the best and most beautiful albums I've heard this year, and it has become a genuine personal favorite."
– John Shanahan, Hypnagogue Podcast