“I didn’t brainstorm it; it just popped in my mind years ago,” Lykins said, referring to “the foundation of the project.” “I picked up the acoustic (guitar) and it just happened.”
The eight-song album will be released Aug. 14. “Confidence Reassurance” will be available on CD Baby, iTunes, Spotify and Amazon as both a compact disc and digital download.
In late June 2016, Lykins released an EP also called “Confidence Reassurance.” Those four songs — “Invitation by Admiration,” “Might Be Leaving,” “Off in the Distance” and “Loubee’s Blessing” — also are on the full album, which was written by Lykins.
“I’d also like to express how grateful I am for the players (who) are also my friends who came in the studio and helped me with the songs,” he said. “Because I couldn’t have done it without them. … They elevated the music to another level. They are not only great musicians; they are great friends.”
Lykins gathered some of the instrumentalists from a variety of side projects.
On the album are: Drummer Steve Hockenberry, of Berlin Heights; bassist David McNary, of Huron; drummer Michael Hyde II; and keyboardist Jerry MacDonald. Allen Carder played drums on two songs. Suella Davis provided back-up vocals on “Off in the Distance,” while Olivia Adelman and Cathy Dickerson sang on “Might Be Leavin.”
“(McNary)’s one of the top bass players around. I’ve jammed with him on a jam night here and there,” said Lykins, who played in the band Sandtown with Hyde.
Lykins referred to MacDonald as “Mr. Norwalk.”
“The legend,” Lykins added, with a laugh. “I have known Jerry for years. Literally around here, he’s a legend. He’s been playing (keyboards) for 50 years; he’s 73 now, I think.”
‘Righteous’ song ideas
Many times the song title comes first and gets the creative juices rolling.
“I have to have divine help to write anything, so in this project it happened,” Lykins said. “If I have a title, if it’s righteous, even if I don’t know exactly what it means, I will go with it.”
The closing song is “Loubee’s Blessing,” an instrumental. Lykins, who calls it as “a pretty magical track,” said he originally attempted to include lyrics, but scrapped that idea.
“The goal of the track was to bring a blessing to anybody (who) would listen,” he said. “I had the inclination to to try to bring a blessing to people — and I railed against it at first because I’m not an every-Sunday-kind-of-church guy.”
The lyrics on the album focus on life experiences, relationships and the joys and frustrations of love. Without naming names, Lykins said he “had a pretty high inspiration for this project.”
Working on the album for three years, Lykins said there were “endless trains” during the process, including a death in his family, “being picky about the tracks” and knowing when the sound was right.
The front cover is a photograph of the Norwalk railroad tracks on the North Coast Inland Trail.
“That’s a pretty special place for me because I spent (time) running down there as a kid with my stepdad,” Lykins said, recalling “special memories” with a man who was a major part of his life. “He passed away in ‘96, but we had a lot of great times back down there.”
The photo is a perspective shot, with the tracks going off into the distance and a train in the background. Lykins said the image represents life, “where you’re trying to go” and how one responds to the proverbial trains in life that are “going to bash you off.”
Hockenberry handled the graphics and produced, mixed and engineered “Confidence Reassurance” at SoundFaith Studio in Berlin Heights. Shawn Daley took care of the vocal and instrumental “captures” at Mohawk Studio in Sandusky.
When it came to writing and recording the album, Lykins said the required persistence “was unimaginable.”
“And I say that with every bit of sincerity with every bone l I have in my body. There are a lot of people (who) just would have thrown the towel in,” he added. “I’m proud of it. This is something I never thought I’d be able to do.”