When George Simpson called me about producing his second album, I assumed I knew what the job would entail – ten nicely crafted acoustic pop-rock songs, as per his superb debut album, Playing For Strangers.

But George had bigger ideas.  His plan was to expand the limits, touch on different styles and create something a little more eclectic and colourful, but still sounding like him.

So, for this album, we both pushed each other out of our comfort zones; I got him to rewrite and better his songs and nudged him into slightly more ambitious territory, whilst he encouraged me to go all out on the production, trying genres I’d never worked in before.


Hence, a track like Veto, which is like nothing else I’ve worked on before.  Looking at it subjectively now, I think it’s a spectacular track and I’m really proud of it but it had a difficult birth.  Starting off as an acoustic track, it took a twisted detour through indie and krautrock before we laboured and chipped away at the production and vocal arrangements to become the kitchen-sink contemporary pop it finally came to be.

The Bottle features some of George’s best vocals yet, going from a pretty low start and building up to a huge, throaty, final chorus.  This track, along with Veto, has been doing the rounds on radio stations around the country, and rightly so.

If I may be a little self-indulgent and trumpet-blowing for a minute, I wrote a string score for Get On This Ride, which features my favourite bit of production I’ve ever done.  Starting at 1:55, the strings swell up into a crashing climax at 2:14 which gives me goosebumps every time.  All credit to the superb Richard Heacock who played the live strings beautifully – when I received the files back from him I jumped out of my chair and shouted an expletive in joy.

Elsewhere, Be Mine Tonight which has a modern folk feel, It’s Our Lives and Love Will Find You could have been Jason Mraz hits, whilst How Long and Be Somewhere would have fit comfortably on his previous album.

The album ended up taking a year to make but it’s probably the album I’m most proud of my involvement in, so far.  We pulled out the stops to get the very best people we could, backing vocalists such as Lizzie Deane, Allison Gray and Kezia Gill make appearances, and half the tracks were mixed by Arthur Indrikovs who did a brilliant job, especially on Veto and Love Will Find You.

The album popped into iTunes chart at number 35, four of the tracks have been picked up by BBC radio stations and George launched the album with a sold-out gig.  Get On This Ride, indeed.

You can download the album on iTunes now.

Veto / The Bottle / Get On This Ride / Be Mine Tonight / It’s Our Lives / Now Or Never / Love Will Find You / How Long / Be Somewhere / Giving You The Eye

All songs written by George Simpson and produced by Ben Haynes.  George Simpson – Vocals, backing vocals, piano on Now Or Never.  Ben Haynes – Instruments, string arrangements, backing vocals on How Long, It’s Our Lives, Now Or Never and Be Somewhere.  Richard Heacock – Violin, viola and cello on Get On This Ride, The Bottle and It’s Our Lives.  Kezia Gill – Backing vocals on Veto, Now Or Never and Love Will Find You.  Lizzie Deane – Backing vocals on Get On This Ride.  Allison Gray – Backing vocals on It’s Our Lives.  Sarah Haynes – Backing vocals on The Bottle and Giving You The Eye.  Soni Simpson – Backing Vocals on It’s Our Lives.  Veto, It’s Our Lives, Love Will Find You and Be Mine Tonight mixed by Arthur Indrigovs.  The Bottle, Get On This Ride, Now Or Never, How Long, Be Somewhere and Giving You The Eye mixed by Ben Haynes.  Mastered by Christian Wright at Abbey Road.