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There are themes that I keep coming back to; that tug between home and the highway, the life on the road, the community I live with on the road and my actual family at home.I keep coming back to the palliative power of music, I've written a number of songs about soldiers and what it means to prepare for such an extreme thing as putting yourself in harm's way or killing or being killed. There are celebratory songs, there are songs that are meant to comfort you, there are songs that are political or angry, but I seem to keep coming back to topics over and over again.It's so important to how an album reads and how it feels as a listening experience -- if people still listen that way at all or when they do.I have a lot of practice at it when we perform live.And I like to collaborate, but I'm pretty possessive of my lyrics.JT: I can definitely get that, but I've done so little collaboration.But I'm an illiterate folk musician who needs to actually try things out to hear them.
But it took me about a month to get the sequence right.When you sat down and looked at what you did with this collection of songs, did you see all the connections? First of all, our basic tracks were ninety percent of the album.We overdubbed some vocal parts because that's a big part of my process, writing for voices.MR: James, there's such a depth to the writing on this album, it seems like you truly swung for the fences with these lyrics, which is my goofy way of segueing to your amazing song about baseball, "Angels Of Fenway." It reverently captures the characters involved, the soul of the sport and how it affected a culture with such detail that it's practically a religious song as well.JT: A lot of the stuff that I do, and probably that you do too, if you're not out and out writing religious songs, an aspect of what you're writing is going to be spiritual.