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Gretchen Lieberum Releases Album,"This May Only Be A Dream."

Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Gretchen Lieberum had a vision for her latest album, This May Only Be A Dream, over ten years ago, when she first met and worked with BAFTA award-winning producer and musician Keefus Ciancia. Gretchen, who also fronts the Prince tribute band, Princess with actress Maya Rudolph, wanted to create an album of jazz and pop standards, songs she'd loved and performed since childhood, but deconstructed and reimagined in a modern context, with Keefus, in particular, producing and arranging: "There was no one else I wanted to do this project with besides Keefus. His impeccable taste and astounding creativity were exactly what I wanted for this album."

Keefus's schedule has been quite busy over the last several years, creating the score for seasons one and three of True Detective with T-Bone Burnett and scoring Killing Eve with David Holmes, for which they won a BAFTA for best original score. Gretchen, in the meantime, was playing sold-out shows across the country with Maya Rudolph as Princess, including a slot at the 2019 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. However, Gretchen and Keefus managed to work on the project in bits and pieces when they could, finally completing the album in early 2021.


To create the album, Gretchen recorded vocal takes of over twenty of her favorite standards, accompanied only by piano, before sending them to Keefus, who is based in France: "I chose songs that speak to me lyrically, and have melodies that I've always loved and been haunted by. When recording them, I kept the accompanying instrumentation very minimal to allow Keefus to have room to let his creativity and imagination run wild." While recording, Gretchen found inspiration from the music of her idols, such as Nina Simone, Peggy Lee, and Nancy Sinatra. Of the songs Gretchen sent, Keefus chose his favorites, removed the piano, and began to reimagine them, taking a rule-breaking approach to harmony, arrangement, and genre around Gretchen's a cappella vocal: "Sometimes Keefus would send a trackback to me, and I'd be blown away by what he'd crafted around the vocal; a stark ballad would come back accompanied by a dense, swooping orchestra, tempos might be slowed down or sped up, all in the same song. Then I'd continue to build on what he'd worked on, like adding layers to a painting." The finished tracks, inspired by Gretchen's emotional and intimate delivery, are at once lush, dynamic, visual, and cinematic.


To complete the album, the two met in Los Angeles at the Electro Vox Studios, bringing in a variety of seasoned session musicians such as Jay Bellerose, David Ralicke, Gabe Noel, Woody Jackson, Peter Smith, string player Gabe Witcher, and Wendy Melvoin of Prince's The Revolution on background vocals. "It was amazing to be able to flesh out our songs with these incredibly talented musicians while working in such a beautiful and historic space. And best of all, Keefus and I were finally able to work together in person after two years of collaborating from different continents. It was an exceptional experience."


The lyrical stories within these classic songs are both hallowed and revered, written by some of the world's greatest songwriters, from Johnny Mercer to Billie Holiday to Brian Wilson. In recording "This May Only Be A Dream," Gretchen and Keefus endeavored to honor these past greats and reinvent them without any strict adherence to previous arrangements or "standard" rules. The result is an album that is at once timely and timeless, appealing to longtime listeners while simultaneously opening a door for a whole new generation to discover great music anew.


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