It’s always impressive when an artist becomes popular completely due to word of mouth and simple appreciation of his work.
Howie Day, with his new album, Stop All the World Now, found his fame by selling his self-recorded albums himself.
Borne in Bangor, Maine, Day decided in high school that his passion for music was greater than his academic passions and so decided to skip college in order to record his music and to tour. With these musical passions, he self-financed the recording of his first album Australia and released it in 2000. Through word of mouth and persistence, Australia sold 30,000 copies.
Since his lone success was so impressive, Epic records picked up his album and began to distribute it. The album has since sold more than 100,000 copies. His new adventure, Stop All the World Now, was recorded in London in spring 2003. It was recorded throughout a three-month process, recording the whole album at one time, as opposed to Australia, which was recorded in bits and pieces.
“When I listen to my first record now, I can hear myself growing up in those songs, time stretching out,” Day said. “The new album is more like a current snapshot, and it’s not overexposed or blurry.”
His new album, while covering themes such as love, loss and recovery already addressed on his previous album, expands to reminisce about his touring days with solo artists like Jack Johnson and Tori Amos.
“Watching how hard Tori works and seeing how she carries herself as an artist was an education for me,” Day said.
The album adds extra treats that weren’t found on Australia. He has learned how to play the piano, which adds a more melodious sound to his tracks. There is also a 25-piece orchestra for some of the songs, including “Numbness for Sound” and “I’ll Take You On.” With these new additions, it shows the improvement from his mostly acoustic Australia and the way his musical talent has grown. On the track “She Says,” featured on Australia, the music has been imbued with heart and orchestra to create an overwhelming feeling of achievement of Day’s part.
“You and a Promise” has a strong, simple, constant beat. The guitar is soft but prevalent along with Day’s finely tuned, although not perfect, voice. A bass guitar can be heard in the background, adding a low melody that carries his voice. The guitar and drums pick up at the chorus, along with Day’s voice as he bellows, “You and a Promise / you and a promise/you and they say to themselves / how could I ever let this happen.” An electric guitar can be heard plucking away when the chorus picks up, adding an upbeat feeling that wasn’t there before. The chorus lifts the spirits before dropping back down to the mellow sound that opened the song.
On the track “End of Our Days,” the piano is the only instrument that can be heard at the beginning, with Day’s somber voice, which sounds crystal clear on this track. His voice is higher pitched and soft. Then the drums pick up the beat, the cymbals and side of the drums being hit, keeping a higher pitched sound of the song, as Day sings, “At the End of the day / going to see what’s up.”
The middle of the song becomes filled with instruments — a guitar chimes in, the cymbals are hit harder and string instruments can be heard, giving the song that orchestral feel that he experimented with on this album.
The album shows Howie Day’s progress from his first album. It shows that he isn’t scared to experiment with the unfamiliar and that even though it’s new, he can still make it his own.