fielding releases second album with an homage to a Long Beach Pioneer
2009-07-09 · By Editor
The critically acclaimed local indie folk rock band fielding are pleased to announce the release of their long awaited sophomore effort “The Voice of Us” now available online via the band’s website www.fieldingmusic.com, as well as on iTunes, emusic, napster and rhapsody.
The new album pays a bittersweet homage, both visually and lyrically, to the late Wilda McGaha, a long time resident of Long Beach CA who passed away in January of 2008 from a sudden and aggressive form of leukemia. McGaha is the maternal grandmother of Eric Fielding Balmer, the band’s lead singer/songwriter, and it is her stunning image that graces the album’s cover.
Taken at the height of the Great Depression, the image shows an elegant teenage Wilda caught mid air in a luminous swan dive at a popular lake in the Pennsylvania countryside, off a platform so high her own mother couldn’t watch. Not too many years later in 1947, as a young widow, Wilda would drive her two young children and her parents across country to settle in the Wrigley neighborhood of Long Beach and begin a new life. Wilda would go on to play head of the household, holding positions with Buffum’s, and then the downtown Long Beach office of The Morris Plan, where she would become the city’s first female loan officer and an officer of the company.
One can feel her independent pioneering spirit especially on fielding’s opening track “102,” with sweeping string arrangements and vocal support from fielding’s Irish import (and Eric’s wife), Beth Balmer. The first piece sets the tone for a masterful collection of 12 songs, telling real life stories using lyrics that “break the mold of being superficial, repetitious and self-referential” (listener review, iTunes). Simple songs with heavy themes and glimmers of hope characterize the album.
fielding’s album was recorded in Long Beach and produced by Ben West (touring musician/musical director for Brooke Fraser) and Kristopher Pooley (touring musician/musical director for Gwen Stefani, Morrissey, Liz Phair). When asked why he wanted to work with fielding, Ben notes “I wanted to do this record because of my respect for (Eric) as a writer, the close friendships with everyone involved, and because I couldn’t get these songs out of my head…”
fielding hail from Long Beach, California. In 2005 the original five-member line up debuted their self-titled freshman effort garnering an avid following and considerable critical praise from those who enjoy smart, pared down, yet sophisticated songsmithing.
Now pared down to its roots of front man and songwriter Eric Fielding Balmer, and multi-instrumentalist Beth Balmer, who has always handled the band’s artful arranging, the pair took a long break before hitting the studio again in 2008 to create “The Voice of Us.” During that time Beth toured and recorded with both Tyler Hilton and Brooke Fraser, and played live with Keane, while Eric delved into the world of teaching and worked on his second masters degree. It will surprise no one who is a fan of his thoughtful ponder-inducing lyrics that he graduated from CSULB with a masters in philosophy.