February Fables

by Paul Otteson

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about

February has long been a solemn month. Cold and dreary skies all too often quell the hopes of an early spring, leaving one to ponder the bitterness of the world and the errs of years past. Weatherworn and growing desolate, Paul Otteson set out to fill the void of these lifeless days; with song. The outcome captured the morals of a forgotten time through stories of murder, lost love, weakness, and regret. February Fables uncovers the beautiful struggles we all come to face, and the hope that can be found in tales of old.

Inspired by a challenge called "FAWM", Paul dedicated himself to songwriting during the month of February. For two years he reimagined the fables of Aesop and established what would be his debut album. Writing an average of one song every other day forces a musician to push past monotony and explore new territories. There is no doubt that this contributed immensely to his growth as a songwriter, all the while expanding his aural pallet. Though considered a folk album, February Fables dabbles in alt-country, indie-rock, and experimental-ballads that create a sound all their own.


The album features a variety of Wisconsin musicians, including; Luke Bassuener of Control and Asumaya on drums, Tom McCarty of The Midwesterners on bass, Shawn Drake of The Love Badgers on violin, and songwriter Jeremiah Nelson on electric guitar. Many of the songs on February Fables took on a new form given the creative brilliance of the group and their vast musical backgrounds. Melodies once thought destined for a solo guitar were reinvented by Bassuener's driving rhythms and McCarty's thoughtful foundation. Jeremiah Nelson's signature guitar is felt throughout the album in layered waves and jazz voicings that create moments of beauty and sonic wonder, well matched by Drake's virtuosic splendor on the violin. The result is a group dynamic filled with spontaneity and well-developed arrangements.

At the heart of February Fables is Paul Otteson's emotive story telling. Phrases blend together his fragile falsetto and earnest baritone with careful harmonies, bringing poetic verse to life. Each song finds its place in the timeline of a young man's failures and fortunes. Struggling to learn from the mistakes of his past, he confides in a simple hope; that at the end of the day the moral will be revealed.

credits

released February 4, 2011

All songs written by Paul Otteson

Tracks 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 8 engineered by Andrew Hartman at Blast House Studios in Madison, WI
Tracks 6. 7. 9. 10. 11 engineered by Jeremiah Nelson at his Apt Studio in Madison, WI

All songs mixed and mastered by Jeremiah Nelson

Layout, design, and illustration by Eric Stykel

Paul Otteson - Vocals, Guitar, Banjo
Jeremiah Nelson - Electric Guitar
Tom McCarty - Upright Bass
Luke Bassuener - Drums
Shawn Drake - Violin on 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 8
Chris Wagoner - Violin, Viola on 7. 10
Mary Gaines - Cello on 7

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about

Paul Otteson Madison, Wisconsin

Maybe a coffee addict. Usually a distance runner. Sometimes a songwriter. Recently a Father. Always a teacher. Used to be a stegosaurus.

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Track Name: The Astronomer
Strain to see, by God my only question
The blurs of light upon celestial plane
Speak no words, I see your voice around me
As wonder burns my heart with hopeful flame

If she danced above to hidden thunder
If these moments lost were felt in rain
If I filled my bones with light from heaven
Would I ever see those eyes again?

Stared above for years, or maybe longer
Wished to see a future past the blue
Gazed at hopes a million miles or further
Lost my love beyond the lonely moon

Time it seems does not require an answer
Search and dream, however, if you will
Lest you turn your eyes to earthly matters
The stars will never fulfill
Track Name: The Boy and the Nettles
Though I'm tired, and my timeline
Is full of countless cheats and lies, I'm gonna try
Maybe for the first time
Maybe for the last time

Though I'm scared, of all these
Inadequacies, I feel prepared
Maybe for the first time
Maybe for the last time

Though I'm sad, that she left me
If I have to tear my heart from my chest, I'm gonna move on
Maybe for the first time
Maybe for the last time

Though I'm lazy, and possibly crazy
I'm gonna get my ass out of bed before the break of dawn
Maybe for the first time
Maybe for the last time
Track Name: The Lion in Love
Across the bar he saw her
Bathed in smokey armor
Showing more then most could afford
A woman soft and slender
Wearing faded leather
With a smile, that seemed to offer more
"Would that I could give her
Simple pleasures
But I'm just a gunslingin' man"

Asked the old bartender
"Where's her father?
That I may, as his daughter's hand"
"Son, you're looking at him
Though I fear your askin'
Knowing well, you're a killing man"
"Show me god faith, calm our fears
Give me your blade, and your Smith and Wesson
The her hand I'll gladly accord"

He gave them without question
Burdens burried
Oh his heart, was over joyed
Bartender both smile and aimed, then pulled the trigger
Shattered glass, upon the floor
"Would that you could give her
Simple pleasures
But you're just a gunslingin' man"
Track Name: The Fox and the Crab
I left my home, left my home
Left, took what I could carry
Found a strange land
A nomad, trying to be merry
Thought I'd be, all there was to be

The sun was hot, sun was hot
For the worse, not the better
The air was dry
And my voice, my voice began to quiver
Thought I'd see, all there was to see

I saw a shape move, shape move
Stir between the shadows
Felt our eyes meet
As if something was to happen
Thought I'd risk, all there was to risk

When the shot fired, I knew
Knew my trip had ended
Was I sad, no, I should've
Expected it to happen
I was not made to live like this
But I can't complain, no for to die like this
Track Name: The Wind and the Sun
I've got a challenge for you sister
To finally see who's stronger,
More daring, who's swifter
At breaking hearts
Stop a man from ever loving another again
See that man with his head in the clouds
Walking the beach, and singing out loud
He is the one
A dreamer, the source of all our fun
Steal his heart, and with it run

The first returned with defeat on her face
When asked of his heart, she hesitated to say
He fell in love quickly
It seemed my beauty had captured his soul
When he asked to marry me
I laughed, and said the cruelest things that I could
His heart was crushed, but not for good
See that man with his head in the clouds
Walking the beach, and singing out loud
He is the one
A dreamer, the source of all our fun
Steal his heart, and with it run

The second returned with a smile on her face
When asked of his heart, she gladly did say
He fell in love quickly
It seemed my beauty had captured his soul
When he asked to marry me
I found myself in love, and told him I would
He'll never love another, as long as it's good
See that man with his head in the clouds
Walking the beach, and singing out loud
He is the one
Track Name: The Frog and the Scorpion
Sir if you please
I need a ride to the other side
This country's not for me
Gotta find a place where I can go and hide
I've done bad things, I've murdered a man
I steal, lie, drink, and when the bottle's empty, do it again

I don't know if I can trust you
You've been down the darkest road
How do I know you won't just kill me
Steal my cash, my car, my load?
Trust me son, I've seen your type run
There's no sense in those bones for what you've done

Lord knows I am not worth saving
but I have this one request
This bullet in my gut is aching
I need a hospital to survive this mess
If I killed you I'd surely die too
Help me cross this desert and we'll be through

His answer sat just fine with me
he hopped on board and we started to soar
Many miles away from the nearest town
He pulled a knife I'd never seen before
Knowing he would also die I asked "Why?"
"It's in my nature." he said with a sigh
"It's in my nature." he said with a sigh
Track Name: The Goat and the Goatherd
Convinced I was a broken window
I didn't mind the looks
Their cameras captured all my shadows
The villan in an unread book
Yeah, my billows blackened
And my liver cooked
It wasn't scripted
I just played the part of the crook

Well past starlight, a young sparrow
Tried to crack the safe
And though she's blind to my world unkind
She wore an angel's face
Yeah, her song was sunshine
And ambition space
Her agenda to rewind
And find where love lost its place

Calmly, she said to me, "Give me one look
And I can see the battlefield ragin'
You cannot veil what isn't forgiven
Your whole life can not be hidden."
Track Name: The Rose and the Amaranth
Neighbor, smile, the sun shines
For it sees in you a splendor
Fairest skin, eyes so blue
The sky demands you tell your secret
Whisper softly to the wind
You must always feel the envy of your friends
And your Mother, is she beautiful?

You are kind, but know the sun shines
Far beyond my brief allure
You've the gift, words so true
Carved upon the stone
They will live on forever
You must know by now, with greatness comes a toll
Ask my Mother, she was beautiful..
Track Name: The Flies and the Honey Pot
Let the time travel without me
It's in my head, down to my toes
The colors wide and frightening
Had to ask the wind, which way it blows
It blows toward Adam when you're tired
Charlie when you're far away
Needles on the counter
Blood in the drain
It blows toward Mary when you're lonely
Angel when you're in pain
Needles on the counter
Blood in the drain

Let the sky overwhelm me
There are spiders in my mind
Wrapped in a web of endless pleasure
Had to ask the sun, which way it shines
It shines toward Adam when you're tired
Charlie when you're far away
Needles on the counter
Blood in the drain
It shines toward Mary when you're lonely
Angel when you're in pain
Needles on the counter
Blood in the drain

Let these needs suffocate me
I bite my tongue, to taste the stars
Humming a song long forgotten
Had to ask myself, did I go too far?
Track Name: The Laborer and the Nightingale
I know your song
I heard the autumn wind pull it along
Dancing soft among the moonbeams
You pulled upon my heartstrings
There has never been, nor will ever be
A song as sad, or as true as thee

When you were mine
I hoped you'd sing so sweetly all the time
calm the troubled thoughts
In my head, but you just left and said
"Waste no pain on what you cannot keep
Or sorrows name you'll always weep."
Track Name: The Bear and the Two Travelers
These arms weren't made for mistakes
You should know
You've seen them both break
And the strength that's left in my heart
Only beats pain
When danger is dark
Still I'd risk it's blood for you
We've never seen
A blade flash twice
Nor felt the gleam
Of red moonlight
But I believe
If bullets bite
You can trust on me to fight

It's not hard to see
Men have only
Ever grown weak
All plagued with unease
We've not found a cause for which we'll bleed

Not the sigh, nor the parching of
The weathered throats, the silent tongues
Not the cry for the meager right
To take the hand of your chosen love
Not the dance to a world unsaved
Compelled to drown in an oily grave
No see, we are raised
To let this sorrow fade
It is our apathy that endures the blame

We've never seen
A blade flash twice
Nor felt the gleam
Of red moonlight
But I must believe
When bullets fly
We will stand with all our might
Can I count on you to fight?
Can I count on you to fight?