Frank Hart is a singer/songwriter from Houston, but his music sounds like he could be from anywhere east of the sunrise or west of the sunset. Frank's main instrument is guitar and the record is driven from beginning to end by his hauntingly beautiful acoustic guitar and soulful, raspy vocals. The bulk of the album's instrumentation, however, is eclectic, ranging from the exotic sounds of sitar, doumbek, and udu to the more folksy sounds of hammered dulcimer, mandolin, and piano, as well as fretless bass, drumset, violin, viola, and cello. There is an otherworldly feel to this record somewhere between prayer and dreaming. Frank is also the leader of the art-rock band Atomic Opera which has recorded for Warner Brothers, Giant records and Metal Blade. His band-mates from Atomic Opera are all on board for this project, Kemper Crabb playing mandolin, recorder, mountain dulcimer and singing harmonies, Johnny Simmons playing various percussion and full drumset, and Trip Wamsley adding his fretless bass be-wonderment throughout. Frank is happily married to Kim Hart and has two beautiful children, his daughter Von Behr Hart and his son Angel Hart. Frank is also the worship leader at CrossPoint Church in Katy, Texas. Fans of all beautiful music that aches will not want to miss this album. Here are Frank's notes and lyrics from the liner notes: EPHPHATHA! Ephphatha! Be opened. They say the first chapters in any biography are the most interesting. We meet people where they begin, as children, the full weight of their future packed into cute innocence. Although the first seven years of my life were surrounded by violence, I survived at the center of the whirlwind with only whispered scars of angry voices and bad dreams. I was spared the bulk of what could have been. I was loved. I was warm and fed. The anger that filled every crack around me was highlighted by clouds of cigarette smoke and shadows cast on my bedroom door like dragons. Will I wake up From this sleeping dream Dragon smoke-rings Mother, Reach for me Scratching shadows On my childhood sleep An endless opening What may be will be On me, mercy on me, on me, mercy (merci) Sleep for seven years Afraid of my dreams Angry voices calling Whispering I love you through my guilt It's how I learned to teach Surviving love that haunts me Remembering We carry our childhood through our lives. Track Notes: Mark 7:33-35 The words of Christ to open a mute man's speech. I have been a fan of William Ackerman for years, and this acoustic guitar riff is heavily influenced by his sparse, beautiful music. It was this drop-D riff that gave me the idea to do an acoustic-based solo album. I borrowed a Taylor acoustic guitar from my friend Chris Whittington (great sounding/playing guitar) and recorded all of the acoustic guitar parts with it. I did that 5 years ago. This is an album that has taken a long time to make. When I started this album, I didn't have any children, and I couldn't play the sitar. Since then, my house has flooded, and my daughter, Von Behr, was born, then my son, Angel, was born. (Certain purists would most likely say I still can't play the sitar, but I get it to do what I need it to do.) The play between the sitar and guitar is really made complete by Trip Wamsley's meandering fretless bass. It's short, but one of my favorite moments on this record is the bridge--when Johnny's big Zeppelin drums come in, and Mandy and Maggie play the super-cool viola and cello parts with an Indian scale. Frank - Vox, Acoustic Guitar, Sitar Trip Wamsley - Fretless Bass Johnny Simmons - Udu, Drum Set Rob Camper - Egg Mandy Campbell - Viola Maggie Fleetwood - Cello SHADOW Maybe lots of things. Lots of things that seem pretty certain. Maybe? We see reality through a dark glass, but I hear one day we will see face to face. I was not raised around faith. We didn't go to church. Most people, it seems to me, believe in God, but they are angry with Him. They think He should do things differently. I was raised by people who believed in God but didn't pay much attention to Him. It is the American paganism. We believe in love, we believe in God, and we live in the shadow of faith, love and hope. When I was twelve, I opened the big, stuffed, white family Bible, turned to the middle and found faith. Somewhere in the Psalms. Maybe there is no sky Maybe there is no rain Maybe there is no world without end And maybe there is nothing In the Shadow of Love Maybe there is no Love Maybe we're not afraid Maybe there is no God to hate And all of His Word is fake In the Shadow of Love I hope that we will find faith It's faith that can teach us to love. Maybe there is no sound (And maybe there is something) Maybe there was no fall (And maybe we're alone) Maybe there is no life before death Maybe you're not here at all In the Shadow of Love (Maybe there's no Maybe) Track Notes: Shadow is in open G tuning. Mandy and Maggie, along with Trip and his EBow bass, make a really spooky soundscape for Kemper and me to sing over. Frank - Vox, Acoustic Guitar Mandy Campbell - Viola Maggie Fleetwood - Cello Kemper Crabb - Harmony Johnny Simmons - Drum Set Trip Wamsley - Fretless Bass, EBow Bass WILDFIRE My parents divorced when I was seven. This song is not about that. Not directly. When my brother got a divorce, I had a conversation with him, his four-year-old son and his nine-year-old daughter. I couldn't even sing the song without choking up for more than a year. I still might. Divorce is destructive, and the destruction never seems to stop. Dad: It was late in the afternoon and the sky was clear When I felt the tears roll up in my eyes You said what you had to say And then you turned to walk away And took the first steps to walk out of my life Son: I was four years old when my world was changed I still don't like to talk about it Everything was boxed up Then we moved away Nothing ever really felt like home again Daughter: When I was nine, I can't get it out of my mind Mom and Dad went their different ways I was forced to choose and I was the first to lose When everything I knew went up in flames All: Our love is like what's left after a wildfire Do you remember all the things that we burned down I hope someday I'll learn to understand you 'Cause it's hard to make much sense of this now Track Notes: WildFire is also in open G. Yes, it sounds a little like a country song. It won't be the last time that happens. Bart's solo in the bridge is a really cool moment. His band (Occam's Razor) was recording in my studio, and he asked if he could throw a slide solo on WildFire. It was a one-take miracle. A couple of years later, I came up with the harmonies one night just messing around; it's the choir of Franks. The strings added a whole new life to this song. Some have said it is too depressing to include on the album, but you have to admit...it sounds really cool. Frank - Vox, Acoustic Guitar, Bass Johnny Simmons - Drum Set Bart Postlewait - Slide Solo Michael Selph - Hammered Dulcimer Mandy Campbell - Viola Maggie Fleetwood - Cello CONFESSION The confession of Malachi and the thief. The book of Malachi accuses the people of God of a lot of horrible things. As I was reading through it one night, I realized that I have done everything the prophet mentioned. So I wrote a song that repented of it all. I feel like the thief who said to Christ, 'Please remember me.' When I first played it for Kim, she said, 'You don't sound like a very good person.' I have done much that I regret, and now you can sing along. I have not recognized Your name Nor Your love for me Hear this burden I speak of I have not given You the honor and the glory And I have dared to hate Your love Lift these words up to the sky Please remember me I have polluted and poisoned the things You give me And I have learned how to despise I have offered You the smallest broken nothings And I believe my own disguise From the rising of the sun until the darkness falls on me I can't undo this man who I have come to be I have not done the things I know that I should have done I have done much that I regret I have not loved you. I fail You with my thoughts, words and my own deeds. Have mercy on me. Please do not forget. I have spoken death to my soul when I speak against You And I have stood tall with the proud I have believed there is no point in following and seeking for You I have lived as though there is no God I live as though there is no God Lift these words up to the sky Please remember me Lift this prayer and hear this cry Please remember me Track Notes: Confession started out as the rhythm track for someone else's song. A girl named Emily Barker came to my studio to record a few songs. She sings and plays piano. I added sitar and percussion under one of her tracks; I think it was called 'Dream.' About a year later, I was just listening to the sitar and percussion track solo and got an idea for some music. This music. So, from her song, I kept the sitar, cello and doumbek. I added a completely different chord progression on the guitar and wrote a new melody with different lyrics. Johnny added a bunch of cool percussion and really brought it to life. I like my classical guitar solo. A $50 classical guitar from eBay. Frank - Vox, Acoustic Guitar, Electric EBow Guitar, Classical Guitar Solo, Sitar, Cello, Harmony Johnny Simmons - Tabla, Doumbek, Shakers, Kick Drum Trip Wamsley - Bass Chris Whittington - Harmony A GIRL WITH RAIN My poetic friend Allison Leal writes some great stuff. This was a piece that she wrote and graciously allowed me to distort into a song. St. John of the Cross wrote about the dark night of the soul. Following the light of faith is often the night of doubt. She knows what is right, she is listening for God's voice, but He seems to be speaking in tongues. Yeah, I've been there. She needs life inside But the wind blows there She has fire in her eyes But she does not know it We all crave the holy But we hate the separation I taste the rain tonight As I follow the nameless I'll wait for You again The wind makes me hungry There is no edge of You And no time for reasons She's weighed down by these Unspeaking intuitions A night of silence The unmeasured voice A girl with rain Alone in her dark night A girl with rain She knows what is right God, You speak in tongues Track Notes: A Girl with Rain was going to be an Atomic Opera song at one time. OK, maybe more than one time. We have recorded it a couple of times for albums, but it never made the final cut. That probably explains the bridge, eh? Frank - Vox, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Sitar Johnny Simmons - Udu, Doumbek, Drum Set Stan Nelson - Bass Mandy Campbell - Female Voice, Viola Maggie Fleetwood - Cello, Harmony Rob Camper - Hi-Hat On Verse LOVE IS ONLY LOVE I have a wonderful marriage. It is practically supernatural. This song is my philosophy on romantic love. We feel love for people. Romantic love, even. Sexual love. It kills me when people say, 'I don't love so and so anymore.' As if they don't have any choice. I started loving Kim when we were in high school. I am very blessed to have her to love and for her to love me back. But, here's the thing...I feel the love I have for her when I love her. Verb. Love is something we do. Patience, kindness, giving, and all that. Love is not magic. Love is not God. Romantic love is not the highest and most noble cause in the universe (no matter what your favorite movie says). Those things are lies. Love is only love. It is a deep breath You only feel it when you breathe It is a deep word You cannot say it when you speak It is a circular motion You only have it when it returns It is a raging fire, love You only feel it when it burns We believe that it is the center of our life It's not a feeling Doesn't mean you cannot feel it Not a religious thing Doesn't mean you can't believe in it We trade our life for it We live and die for it to grow We'll stand and fight for it We only hold it if we let go We believe that it is the meaning of our life Love is everything and Love is nothing more than Love is only love Love, it is not God and Love is not romance and Love you cannot make and Love you cannot fake it Love is something that we all must do Do you love? We all believe in it We all have need of it We believe that it is the reason for our life Track Notes: Love Is Only Love came to me after working for a year at a concert hall called Rockefeller's. As a sound engineer, night after night I would see great Texas music acts, and some of the regional music rubbed off on me. You might not be able to hear the influence, but I sure can. Of course, there were a lot of non-Texas music acts that played there, too. Michael Hedges was there a couple of times. I actually met Trip at a Michael Hedges concert at Rockefeller's. His bass on this song is pure funk love, and the strings that Mandy and Maggie played are a trip in themselves. By the way, Mandy and Maggie are twins. They play in the group Clouds Cry. I'm producing an album for them right now. They did all the strings on my record in one very long 15-hour session. Frank - Vox, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar Johnny Simmons - Drum Set Trip Wamsley - Bass Kemper Crabb - Lots of Harmonies Mandy Campbell - Viola Maggie Fleetwood - Cello LITTLE ONE When I met my brother's first child, Cherish, she really touched me. A newborn baby from my own baby brother. I had never really paid any attention to babies before. I wrote this song after that. I wrote it for her, but I was also thinking of my future child...if we ever had one. Kim and I have been together since we were kids. Her maiden name was Von Behren. I always thought it was a cool name, and we used to say we would name our first child Von Behr Hart. Boy or girl, it didn't matter. Well, ten years after Cherish was born, I was waiting on Kim to get finished with her second trimester checkup at the birthing center, and I picked up a book in the waiting room called 'Baby Names and Their Meanings.' I wanted to know what 'Von' meant. Just out of curiosity. Beside the name Von was written two words: 'little one.' May you believe... Little One, may you grow To be happy and healthy May you always have plenty, May you Dream Little One, may your life Be filled up with living Be filled up with giving May you bring love Little One Little One, may you learn To be Faithful and lovely Helpful and holy And be wise Little One, may you know The strength of the patient The calm of the gracious May you find life Little One May you sing May you dance May you laugh in joy May you know Happiness May you believe in Hope Little One Track Notes: Little One is a sort of Irish blessing-type song. The final vocal on the record is my seventeenth attempt at singing the song. I don't mean the seventeenth take, I mean the seventeenth FINAL take. I couldn't figure out how to sing the song. Part of the problem was Emily Barker. She recorded a version of this song for her record. It was so pretty and Kate Bush/Loreena McKennitt sounding that I just couldn't get my scruffy voice to live up to her version. So, I gave up and went for a total 'Tom-Waits-scruff'...and there it was. The piano is left over from her version. She did a nice job. Frank - Vox, Acoustic Guitar, Cello Emily Barker - Piano Kemper Crabb - Recorder Flute, Mountain Dulcimer Mandy Campbell - Viola, Harmony Maggie Fleetwood - Cello, Harmony Johnny Simmons - Doumbek Trip Wamsley - Bass MAD I love you, but you make me mad. There is a lot of anger in our lives, but most of it is not deserved. The people who we love the most are the only people who can really hurt us, but most of the time, we do it to ourselves. This song really came alive when I came up with the line 'Whenever I stand in the way of this thing that we have,' because it puts the blame back on me, where it belongs. My friend Thadd Grimm and I were talking about songwriting and, to illustrate a point, I said that anything you say can be a song. Some of the best songs come from carefully listening to yourself speak. Just pick a phrase that sounds cool from any conversation, like, 'I love you, but you make me mad.' I love you, but you make me mad I love you, but you make me sad, sometimes Whenever I stand in the way of this thing that we have ... It's too sad ... I love you, but you make me mad The things you want I want to give But I don't have them in my hands The times you start And then you stop Why can't you finish all the things you plan No one gets to me The way that you can get to me I love you, but you make me mad... You want my time, I want yours, too I can't control it any more than you To see our dreams We both must sleep Then we can speak in the morning No one gets to me The way that you can get to me I love you, but you make me mad... Only a person in your heart Can drive you right outside your head Look where we fall after love Track Notes: Mad is a dark little pop song. Bittersweet. Have you ever heard a cello solo sound so angry? I kept pushing Maggie, so I'm not sure that she is only pretending. Hopefully she still loves me. Frank - Vox, Acoustic Guitar, Harmony Trip Wamsley - Bass Johnny Simmons - Drum Set Maggie Fleetwood - Cello Solo BABY FORGIVE ME Kim and I waited until we had been married sixteen years to have our first child. I know you have heard stories about fathers falling in love with their child. I call it 'baby drunk.' You might even have one of your own. You are not going to believe me when I tell you how far I fell. I didn't want to do anything but hold my little girl for about three years. (Isn't the fact that this record took so long proof enough?) When Von Behr was born, for the first two weeks I held Von on my chest all night and listened to every breath. I had it bad. I would actually feel like I needed to repent before Almighty God if she was reaching for me and I didn't notice. This song is born of that impulse. It is not a dark impulse. It's like a lullaby version of "Cat's In the Cradle." I don't even know how to begin There's everything to say When my baby came into my life And everything else fades How many times was she looking at me, And I was busy looking somewhere else Ah, Baby forgive me I won't even begin to pretend That I can understand How my baby can fill up my world And hold me in her hand How many times was she reaching for me, And I was busy doing something else? Ah, Baby forgive me I don't want to miss a magic moment With my baby I don't want a tear to go unnoticed On my baby...Ah, no. There is nothing as sweet in the world As the sound of her voice When her words are a song in my heart And my soul rejoices How many times was she calling for me And I was busy listening to something else? Ah, Baby forgive me Track Notes: Baby Forgive Me is one of Trip's finer bass moments on this CD, although he pretty much rocks all the way through. The voice at the beginning is Von Behr at one year old making little baby singing sounds. She would watch me sing and try to sing along. The guitar solo is played on her toy guitar (kind of a cool sound). I should have used one of her rattles for a shaker... Frank - Vox, Acoustic Guitar, Harmony, Toy Guitar Solo Trip Wamsley - Bass Johnny Simmons - Jimbe Mandy Campbell - Viola Maggie Fleetwood - Cello NOTHING We live our lives in constant amazement. Frustration. Joy. Despair. Hope. Faith. Doubt. God does not change, truth does not change, nothing really changes. Everyone who has sold themselves for sin Want to buy themselves back over again Telling the same sad stories over again The future is not a secret from the beginning All these years change nothing Day after day, the same routine Doubt can drive us back to sleep Faith in the Truth is not group hypnosis The breath of the wind will whisper peace All these years change nothing There is a language of words that cannot speak Speak the Word and I'll wake up from this sleep Now that I'm at the center of my life The darkness of my heart turning white All These years change... Telling the same sad stories to children The future will be here when we begin All these years change nothing Track Notes: Nothing shows my love for all things Windham Hill again. Trip's bass and the strings really brought this simple little song alive. The viola solo that Mandy plays is stunning. Frank - Vox, Acoustic Guitar Trip Wamsley - Bass Mandy Campbell - Viola, Viola Solo Maggie Fleetwood - Cello SHE'S SO BLUE Who is she, and what is she doing on my record? Hmm. Well, whoever she is, she walked into a big, pretty church and started arguing with God and trying to be nicer than Him. O, Sister, where art thou? It's a stained glass world And it doesn't come cheap But it didn't cost her a nickel She walked in right out off of the street And she sat down And she looked around Some words are truth Some words are lies She thinks knows the difference But look her right into the eyes of her faÃ*ade You just can't win an argument with God She tries so hard But you just can't win an argument with God When she finds that it's hard to believe In everything she knows is true Lead her back to The Way She can believe in everything that leads to You She's so blue Well it all sounds right But it all goes wrong Standing on the science With her faith under a microscope too long And that's not where it belongs It can't be true She knows better than that There's no way she can believe it It would be completely wrong and pretty odd To think she has a bigger heart than God She tries so hard But you just can't win an argument with God It's a tear-stained world And it doesn't come cheap But it doesn't cost a nickel If she has faith and can believe when it is hard, find a way to know it in your heart She tries so hard But you'll never win an argument with God. She tries too hard She's so blue Track Notes: She's So Blue is probably another product of my year spent at Rockefeller's. The Variax does a pretty good impression of a dobro and banjo. The drums are a tambourine played with a brush. The big stand-up bass is a hack job that I bought in Mexico, and it has a unique sound. I have to stuff it full of foam to keep the rattles from being louder than the bass tone. Frank - Vox, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar (Banjo, Dobro), Stand-Up Bass, Harmony Johnny Simmons - Tambourine Kemper Crabb - Mountain Dulcimer AMEN FOR THE DAY The moments when we are alone. Defining moments. The light in our eyes when we are born; we are completely weak, yet our entire life is ahead of us. Each day, one after another, the seasons of our life, we live each moment before the Face of God. Amen. Let it be. Amen. So be it. Amen. When the darkness ends Then the day begins in a moment all alone Please remember me And forget my weakness where I will let you down Say another alleluia, amen for the day When I am afraid When my strength has lost all the will to follow through Say another alleluia, amen for the day My eyes look for You My hands reach for You I will to always search for You When my breath is gone and my life is over Say another alleluia, amen for the day When You will return and the new life comes Say another alleluia, amen for the day Track Notes: Amen For the Day is a piano savant. I have never actually learned how to play the piano, but for some reason, I have always been able to play this song. I really can't play much else on the piano. Only this. It doesn't make any sense, but there it is. I was thirteen years old when my Mom heard me playing on a school piano (we didn't have one at home) and said, 'When did you learn how to play the piano?' I said, 'I don't know how to play the piano, I just know how to play this.' I rented a grand piano for the Emily recording session (it barely fit in the studio). So, one evening after the session, I hit record and played for about fifteen minutes. Years later, I edited the bits together and made this song. You people out there who really play the piano are not impressed, I know, but I think it's 'kinda purdy.' As usual, Trip, Johnny, Kemper, Mandy and Maggie infused wondrous life into the song. Frank - Vox, Piano Trip Wamsley - Bass Kemper Crabb - Harmony Johnny Simmons - Bells, Shakers, Jembe Mandy Campbell - Viola Maggie Fleetwood - Cello Who else did what: Produced by Frank Hart Recorded at Digital Penguin Studio (Frank's House) First Mix by Ryan Birsinger at Rocket Science Studio (Kemper's House) Final Mix by Frank Hart at Digital Penguin Mastered by David Hartung at Digital Penguin Photos by Rob Camper at Times Infinity Art by Frank Hart Special thanks: Kim, Von Behr and Angel Hart, Thadd, Pam, Maddie, Ford and Jude Grimm, Johnny and Jenni Simmons, Michele Garza, Trip and Sarun Wamsley, Kemper and Shanna Crabb, Ryan and Amy Birsinger, David and Caroline Hartung, Michael and Pattie Selph, Emily Barker, Chris Stafford, Bart Postlewait, Matt Hunt, Ben Huggins, Wayne and Allison Leal, Max Dyer, Ty Tabor, Kevin and Jemis Lewis, Thom and Gloria Maples, Rob and Vikki Camper, Chris and Mandy Campbell, Maggie Fleetwood, Kristin Jensen, Chris and Joanne Whittington, Jeff and Julie Hart, Cherish and Gabe Hart, Randy and Connie Matlock, Barbara and Bob Hart, Kurt and Jenny Behrent, Michele and Clem Boulter, Gunter Ford, Sheila and Scott Steinsiek, Doug Van Pelt, Vito Rosolino, CrossPoint Community Church, Matt Popovitz, James Zeigel, Bill Woolsey, Tim Miesner, Jason Koch, David Hyde, Sonya Valentine, Mike and Marie Morrison, David Wallace, Eric and Kim VanDevender, Joel Wetzstein, Stan Nelson, Bill Dickson, Jonas and Allie Velasco, FDMB: Sam Hoyle, Brad Farha, Phil Sackenheim, GFH, David Whiteman, Don Norwood, Vince Sahr, Brian and Liz, JJ, Lee Gunter, Gregg, Tony, Mikal, Capt Argo, David G, Ben., MVH, Chad, Kev, 5h4n3, Daddave, DrGonzo81, Dennisaur, Guy, Zen, Joseph and all the others. Five years ago, Kim and I were going for a walk, and I started assembling a list of possible solo-album songs in my head. I started with 20 and ended up with 12 on the final album. There have been many people who have encouraged me along the way. Many people who have added to the project. Thank you. It must be said that all glory, honor and ultimate thanks are due to Jesus Christ, God incarnate, Creator and Sustainer of all things. World without end. AMEN.