After a break of about a decade away from music, a career change and two children, Watertown’s Lisa Bastoni has recorded an album and the singer-songwriter will celebrate with a performance on Wednesday, Jan. 25 in Somerville.
During her break from music Bastoni had a “job in a cubicle,” went to graduate school, became an art teacher and for the past few years has been raising two young children. While she was on a hiatus from music, Bastoni said she found inspiration.
“I played just a handful of concerts in all that time, and thought I was done with music for good,” Bastoni said. “But one afternoon, while out for a walk around the neighborhood with the kids, I started to get ideas for song lyrics. And soon it was like a flood of song ideas – and as the songs started to come back, so did the desire to perform and record them.”
This week Bastoni will perform songs from her new album, The Wishing Hour, on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. at The Burren in Davis Square, Somerville.
“Some bands go into a recording studio for a week and come out with a complete album. My album The Wishing Hour took nearly a year to make, which turned out to be ideal for my situation,” Bastoni said. “It gave the songs a chance to percolate, and gave me time to get my sea legs back as a musician after so many years away.”
While some of the album was recorded in studios in Nashville and New York, large portions were performed right in Bastoni’s Watertown home.
“I had a 6 year old laptop set up in the kids’ playroom, and I’d just go in there after their bedtime and get to work, writing and recording song demos, often pretty late into the night,” Bastoni said.
For the album, Bastoni brought in her old friend Josh Kantor, who she first met in the early 2000s when she was busking in Harvard Square and on Red Line platforms. The two played together in those days, with Kantor playing upright bass. Since that time, Kantor has become the Fenway Park organist and a well known side player and session musician.
“When I called him up after my long break from music to see if he’d be interested in playing together again, the words were hardly out of my mouth before he said yes,” Bastoni said. “I feel incredibly lucky to have Josh on my ‘team’ – his musicianship, encouragement, and friendship are invaluable.”
She also reached out to Felix McTeigue, a producer and songwriter from Nashville. He had contacted Bastoni several years ago about working together.
“To my surprise, he remembered me and the process was off and running pretty quickly,” Bastoni said. “There was a period of just generating ideas and material, and selecting a few songs to start working on.”
Before she could start recording, Bastoni needed to find the funds to create the album. She put together a crowdfunding campaign, and “some very generous fans from my early days performing” helped meet the goal within hours.
She got a break when she discovered the tracks she recorded on her laptop in her children’s playroom could be used in the album, thanks to the skills of engineer and co-producer Drew Guido, who lives in Brooklyn.
“This was huge, as it meant that I could record my parts basically for free, and use the money that I would have spent recording in a ‘real’ studio towards hiring some of my favorite musicians to play on the album,” Bastoni said. “Josh, and our guitarist Jeff Butcher, were able to record their parts in the playroom studio, too.”
Other musician who played on The Wishing Hour include Chris and Eleanor Masterson of The Mastersons – Steve Earle’s backing band. They recorded overdub guitar and fiddle in their home studio in Austin. Kelly Hogan (Neko Case/The Decemberists) also recorded a harmony track in a studio while on tour in Atlanta, and John J. O’Reilly, Jr. sent in his drum tracks from Philadelphia, Bastoni said.
The show in Somerville will feature the full band – Bastoni’s husband Christopher Boucher (bass/banjo), Josh Kantor (keys/accordion), Ken Calhoun (drums), and Jeff Butcher (guitar). Isa Burke of the band Lula Wiles will be joining in on some harmonies and fiddle, and Bastoni’s friend Julia Mark will play a set to open the show.
Bastoni has other performances booked, including Feb. 6 at Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown and Feb. 20 at the Middle East in Cambridge. Other shows are listed on her website, www.lisabastoni.com. The album is available at all lives shows, and will be released on Jan. 27, 2017, on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and other services.