The New York singer-songwriter Connie Lovatt talks about all the amazing musicians who play on her new solo album, Coconut Mirror (out on our label Enchanté U.S. Sept. 27 on Bandcamp, CD and select streaming services). Workspace images courtesy of the artists.
Connie Lovatt, Coconut Mirror (Enchanté US, out Sept. 2023) Songs written by Connie Lovatt / Produced by Connie Lovatt
Connie Lovatt: vocals, acoustic guitar, tambourine James McNew: bass Jim White: drums Rebecca Cole: keyboards on Basin, Broke, Sisters, Snow Che Chen: lead guitar on Sleep, Snow, Lines Phoebe Gittins: piano on Broke, Gull, Heart, Honest, Kid, Snow, Zodiac Lucy LaForge: backing vocals, harmonica on Sisters Max Tepper: synthesizer on Heart, Honest, Snow, Sleep, Zodiac Bill Callahan: vocals on Kid James Baluyut: pedal steel on Sisters Hartley Nandan: screaming on Sleep
Recorded by the artists and Joe Wohlmuth Engineered and mixed by Joe Wohlmuth Mastered by Jeff Lipton and Maria Rice at Peerless Mastering, Boston, MA
Jim White’s work area
Jim White: A brilliant friend that gave the album the topography of dreams. I’ve listened repeatedly to him playing on some of my favorite songs over the years and can barely believe he’s playing on mine. What kind of magic is this?
James McNew recording his bass parts; drawing by James
James McNew: If you could walk up to a music library and ask it “can you play bass on my songs?” and then the music library sits up cozy next to you and says “watch this” and solves all your problems.
Rebecca Cole’s recording room
Rebecca Cole: I asked her to play on some songs when she was practically 48 hours from leaving on tour with Pavement. Her suitcase was probably 1/2 packed on her bed. I got a very sweet “I’ll try” kind of answer. What she sent back sounded so good you would have thought I gave her a year’s time.
Where Che Chen makes his magic
Che Chen: I think the most interaction I’ve had with Che is sharing a smile as we walk past each other at a club or a hallway in a rehearsal space. But I knew his guitar playing very well. To me he is psychedelic in that he’s both the mindset and the setting. I felt brave asking him to play. He was kind and overdelivered and I love it all.
Phoebe Gittins’ piano and her assistant
Phoebe Gittins: I was at the end of my tattered thready rope when I started recording and man, I just didn’t know. Asking Phoebe to come by and play on a song to just see if it could be even something another musician could hold on to was one of my better moves. She is so melodic and musical that I’m telling everyone I know you need to lay roses at her feet and ask her to play on your songs. She’s the sweetest.
Where Max thinks of his outer space sounds
Max Tepper: Max is a family friend and our daughters have known each other from months old. He plays guitar and is road-tested and knows all the bands and all the stories. I knew keyboards and synths were a part of things in his world. I don’t know exactly when or why I heard synths on certain songs, but I was so lucky Max understood what I meant when I asked. He sprinkled the heavy sparkles!
Where Lucy LaForge works
Lucy LaForge: For my young daughter she was magical like Mary Poppins, except the umbrella was a guitar and the chimney sweep was a stuffed cow. For me, on this record, she was a rock who tried everything from tap dancing on the studio floor to harmonica, to trying all the harmonies on “Sisters” to autoharp. She has a bag of tricks no matter where she goes.
James Baluyut’s music room
James Baluyut: A very patient man who helped me send off some final backing vocal ideas as he simultaneously figured out some flawless pedal steel for “Sisters.” He’s a positive force to be around when making music. Nimble and always pushing things forward. I took up his time but I brought him enormous chocolate chip cookies.
Bill Callahan’s workspace
Bill Callahan: He’s one of my favorite songwriters of all time. I got to sing on a couple of his songs a while back. It took a few years for me to write a song good enough for him to sing on. He won’t be losing any sleep about my latest theory, but I do think I’ve shortened his 8 furlong lead by an inch.
Where Joe Wohlmuth and Connie worked on Coconut Mirror
Joe Wohlmuth: All contributors, except in-town Lucy, recorded their own work and everyone did an excellent job. This method, no matter how carefully done, created many sonic scenarios that were out of Joe’s control. Background noises, mic issues, consistency, tempo, etc., etc., had to be addressed and blended together to Coconut Mirror’s starry-eyed standards. Joe has an ear that no note can slide past unaccounted for and he helped guide these songs through every step with an attentive ease.
The cover features a drawing by Connie’s sister Jennifer Lovatt
In September 1993, Connie Lovatt and Fontaine Toups played together at a chickfactor party at Acme in NYC under the name Containe. When I heard them play, I immediately offered to put out a 7-inch single and our label Enchanté was born (not to be confused with an electronic label in Paris). That pivotal moment resulted in close friendships, two Containe albums, three The Pacific Ocean releases and a partnership that continues to this day.
Now, 30 years later, we are so proud to announce the release of Connie’s first solo project, Coconut Mirror. She wrote all the songs and brought together an amazing group of contributors, and it will be released Sept. 27, 2023. Lovatt grew up in St. Thomas and has lived in New York and Los Angeles. She previously made music with Containe, the Pacific Ocean, Alkaline, and Smog.
Connie Lovatt in Carrboro, NC, 2023; photo: Gail O’Hara
Coconut Mirror is a family record and a love letter/life guide to her daughter—full of carefully constructed songs about drownings, cockfights, the ocean, happiness, drug dealers, poverty, heartache and love—written over the past decade or more in Silver Lake/Los Feliz and Wellington. Because of time and space and COVID, the musicians who play on the album recorded their own parts and sent them in to Connie, who worked with Joe Wohlmuth on crafting her solo singer-songwriter debut into a beautiful whole with some of the music world’s most sparkling gems playing on it.
“Everyone that I’ve loved is in this record. Everyone that matters—women, men, they’re all in there somewhere … I wanted to show my daughter that I could still make something after giving birth. I wanted to make a record with acoustic guitar where I’m telling my daughter all the stories that mattered to me.” — Connie Lovatt
All songs written by Connie Lovatt (BMI) copyright 2023
Connie Lovatt (acoustic guitar, vocals, backing vocals, tambourine) James McNew (bass) Jim White (drums) Phoebe Gittins (piano on “Broke,” “Gull,” “Heart,” “Honest,” “Kid,” “Snow,” “Zodiac”) Max Tepper (synthesizer on “Heart,” “Honest,” “Snow,” “Sleep,” “Zodiac”) Rebecca Cole (keyboards on “Basin,” “Broke,” “Sisters,” “Snow”) Che Chen (lead guitar on “Sleep,” “Snow,” “Lines”) Lucy LaForge (backing vocals, harmonica on “Sisters”) Bill Callahan (vocals on “Kid”) James Baluyut (pedal steel on “Sisters”) Hartley Nandan (screaming on “Sleep”)
Produced by Connie Lovatt Recorded by the artists and Joe Wohlmuth Engineered and mixed by Joe Wohlmuth Mastered by Jeff Lipton and Maria Rice at Peerless Mastering, Boston, MA
Connie in NYC, 2022. Photo: Gail O’Hara
Cover drawing by Jennifer Lovatt Special effects by Adam Woodward Layout artist Jennifer Sbragia