When was the last time you needed help badly? Did you ever think that when you found that help, you’d find love as well? Picture Ernie Halter as he stood stranded on a lonely stretch of road in the middle of nowhere. Discouraged, worried, he got a call from a most unexpected source. “A girl whom I had met just once offered her car to me for as long as I needed it. No one had ever done anything that selfless for me. She continues to be my angel, and every day I am thankful for her help … and her love.”
The song he wrote as a thank-you, “Angel,” is one of eleven tracks on his latest release, “Franklin & Vermont,” which features the stories found at the intersection of love and longing. This record chronicles the sometimes painful quest for love and the joy we feel when we finally find it.
Franklin and Vermont is what Halter calls home. These two cross streets in a quiet neighborhood within Los Angeles are “a few miles away and a world apart from my old place in Hollywood. I spend so much time on the road – I wanted the record to carry a bit of home wherever I went.”
“Franklin & Vermont” returns to the heartfelt arrangements and honest delivery of Halter’s early material, a collection of songs recorded in his bathroom with, as he describes it, “one mic and one love.” The response was tremendous. “To this day, people tell me they love the early recordings for that laid back, raw, acoustic vibe, and I wanted ‘Franklin & Vermont’ to be a studio record with the same soul.” To achieve this, he enlisted engineers Spenser Bishop and Carson Liccardi of MixOne Sound in Mission Viejo, CA, not far from where Halter grew up. There they kept the setting intimate – in addition to his playing most of the instruments on the record, this was also Halter’s first self-produced album.
His songwriting for this record maintains that closeness ntimacy, being heavily influenced by events in his own life and those of people close to him. The feelings experienced upon losing a loved one inspired “Gone,” and when Halter posted a live performance of this song on YouTube it quickly racked up over 10,000 views in its first week. “I started getting messages from fans saying how much they connected to the song,” he explains. “There is no greater reward.”
For those who realize that sometimes feelings aren’t enough to keep a relationship, Halter has penned “Hard To Let A Good Love Go.” “This Beautiful Ache” features the haunting vocals of Amy Kuney and Tony Lucca and describes the pain and pleasure a memory can bring – a theme also explored in “Almost You,” a co-write with Kyler England (The Rescues), Jason Spiewak and Richard Furch. Singing of a love you can’t seem to forget, Halter laments, “best someone else could hope to do / is take second place / be almost you.” When listening to that song, it’s hard not to think of the one who got away.
Once in love, it is wonderful to find music that describes the journey. The up-tempo “We Got Love” penned in Nashville with Lady Antebellum guitarist Jason “Slim” Gambill is one such song. Along with “Angel,” “Come Home To Me” is a delicate ukulele-led melody co-written when Halter was missing his girl far from home.
As a special treat Halter has included two cover songs that are part of the soundtrack of his life; Coldplay’s bittersweet “In My Place” arranged for cello, voice, and ukulele, and an acoustic arrangement of “Black Coffee In Bed” by Squeeze. “More than anything, I wanted to make the kind of record I would enjoy listening to,” says Halter. “I covered songs I loved hoping others would love them as well.”
It is important to Halter that this record not only connects to the listeners, but helps them connect with each other as well. Catalyzing word of mouth in a digital age and making full use of the opportunities presented by the internet, he has built a fan base that includes over half a million followers on Twitter and the number one spot on Amazon.com for a free mp3 sampler consisting exclusively of Halter’s music.
From his status as a “digital troubadour” Halter had taken social networking off the computer and into the music venue. He encouraged fan connections to the point where they tell him they now hang out together before shows, visit one another on vacation, and meet at music festivals – using their mutual love of Halter’s music as a launching pad to form long-lasting friendships.
If Halter can’t always be there to see the relationships bloom, he’s happy that at least his music can. “I want to be the record you play while you make breakfast, make dinner, make out … I kept thinking of the songs that made up the soundtrack of my life and wanted to create songs that would help others form theirs.”
Are you looking for love lost? Or are you rejoicing in love found? Either way, the songs of someone who’s been where you’ve been can be heard on “Franklin and Vermont.”
Ernie will be Performing w/ Tony Lucca on August 2nd at The Walnut Room
Ernie Halter “Whisper” (LMR Show 2008)