John Aulabaugh gets personal on his fourth studio album Sweet As You — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
A dynamic and layered fusion of his signature Americana sound and anything-but-conventional classic rock sensibilities, the Champaign, Ill., veteran’s latest release in his musical journey actually began taking shape in the final months of 2016, after working on his first solo album with long-time studio musician and master session keyboardist Rami Jaffee (Wallflowers, Foo Fighters).
The overall texture of Sweet As You was informed by meticulous attention to rhythmic detail and the use of the fabled recording space New Monkey Studios in Los Angeles. The studio of the legendary Elliot Smith was a playground for musical creations, with Aulabaugh attesting the “console is a rare Trident used on Rush albums back in the day” and that they “were seeking out the ghosts in the machine.”
The decision to record Sweet As You all-analog was a cumbersome test for the all-star cast of engineers and musicians. A process two years in the making had finally reached the stage where tracks could be laid down over a five-day recording period; the final embellishments were added in the renowned Jackpot! Recording Studio in Portland, Ore., soon after. From there, Aulabaugh sought out Australian comic book artist Daniel Reed to create the cover art for the album, knowing he would effectively communicate all of the harmonic subtleties of the music through his striking visual style.
Aulabaugh comes from humble beginnings. He played his brother’s guitar throughout the Illinois area until the early ’80s, when he gave up music for corporate America. Inevitably he picked up the guitar again and began recording. Finding a renewed sense of creative purpose, he decided the time was right to pursue his dream of putting together his debut record, Of Sins Past & Present — which spent 20 weeks on the Americana chart in 2015 — and he has been on fire ever since.