By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Robert Gomez began writing the songs for his newest record, Pine Sticks and Phosphorus, in July of 2007, during the downtime between gigs as he toured with fellow Denton-based act and Bella Union signee, Midlake. Gomez, a musician since age 6, says creating the arrangements and the "music side" of those songs came relatively easy for him.
But the lyrics...well, that's another story.
Back in Denton after the tour, Gomez spent the next year and a half reworking those songs and writing others, in preparation for this, his third full-length solo album. And when it came time to record, Gomez recruited a smattering of musicians, local and otherwise, to help: Centro-matic's Matt Pence co-produced and played drums on the album, which also features members of The Polyphonic Spree, The Theater Fire, Midlake, Blue Pedal and Postmarks.
Completed in the fall of 2008, Gomez's Pine Sticks and Phosphorus should hit shelves next week. But, even after a year and a half, Gomez says, there wasn't any pivotal, EUREKA! moment that hit him when the album was done.
"It was more like I needed to be done with it," Gomez says, "and I reached a point where I just had to let go and be done. But I was revising the songs right up until the very end."
Unlike some singer-songwriters who spew forth their lyrics in a stream-of-consciousness style, Gomez says his songwriting process is "more arduous."
"I revise and revise and revise them," he says. "Now, more than ever, I have been really focused on and concerned with the lyrics."
And, for all his effort, the lyrics on Pine Sticks and Phosphorus indeed stand as the chief element to distinguish this album from Gomez's past releases.
"I've finally found a writing groove that works," he says. "There's less of a narrative approach to the songs, and more images and imagery. They are more visual. And, actually, most of my inspiration is visual."
With the music complete, Gomez would play the songs repeatedly, waiting for the sounds to evoke mental images in his mind. "Then I'd write, describing things that came to mind as I played the music," he says.
And it worked. Even in the album's title, Gomez makes a common match seem downright inspirational. The title was lifted from the opening lines of the guest-heavy track "Fireflies," which features Paul Slavens on accordion, Midlake's McKenzie Smith on drums and Sarah Jaffe accompanying Gomez's vocals.
"At one point I had a Web designer and a booking agent—and a label that wasn't me," Gomez says. (Pine Sticks and Phosphorus will be released through Nova Posta Vinyl, the label Gomez founded with Midlake's Eric Pulido.) "But I like having my hands on all the elements, in everything. It's weird to be working on your own record, but at the end of the day, I'm probably better off." —Daniel Rodrigue