It’s Just Craig was originally a planned mid-life crisis: just before his 40th birthday, Craig Helmreich ran off to San Francisco with ten songs, and six friends – Elijah, Marc and Kirsten Ford; John Vanderslice; Jason Slota and; Rob Shelton. They put the ten songs on two inch tape at Tiny Telephone recording studios, where they convinced Bernie Grundman to master the record, and cut the lacquers. This became ‘Blood On The Table’. Now Craig and his friends are back, together with Jess and Kelsey from Von Strantz. They’ve recorded album 2, ‘Dark Corners’, once again at Tiny Telephone.
Both albums have a raw feeling to them, lots of live tracking, few takes and overdubs, and analogue, not digital. For ‘Dark Corners’, Marc Ford (who’s played with Black Crowes, Ben Harper, and Magpie Salute) is on guitar, and Elijah Ford on bass, piano, and electric and acoustic guitars. Jason Slota, who’s played with Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, on drums; Rob Shelton (Meernaa) on synth, while John Vanderslice produced, mixed and played keys on ‘Goodnight’ (along with Rob Shelton). For this album Jess and Kels Von Strantz did vocals, and vocals and cello respectively. They returned to Bernie Grundman for mastering and lacquers, and released the album on 30 June.
The album, ‘Dark Corners’, tells the story of a cargo boat captain, and his journey. He leaves home, excited yet apprehensive, and meets obstacles along his way, such as getting stranded within sight of his destination. He fights the temptations in front of him at sea, and finds himself struggling with the loss of contact with home. There is a darkness to the album: he eventually decides that whatever it was he was deciding may no longer be his to make.
Craig says of the album:
Tracks 1-8 are the concept album/story. Track 9 is blank. Track 10 is Thirty-nine. It is unrelated to the story told in 1-8 and instead is my song about Jason Molina and how I, and many other people I know, could follow his self destructive path if we didn’t guard against it.
Listen to ‘Goodnight’, the 6th track on the album: