Song By Song With Covenhoven

Covenhoven’s A Kind Of Revelation is an album of serene beauty. Photo credit: Steve Stanton

Covenhoven reveals the influences and inspirations on A Kind Of Revelation

On one of the lushest and gorgeously evocative releases of the year, Colorado’s Covenhoven creates a stirring song cycle built around emotive string sections on his new album A Kind Of Revelation. 

Covenhoven takes us inside the album, song by song. 

Song By Song

By Covenhoven

I believe a song is a thing that is meant to be seen from many different angles. Like a sculpture in the center of a room, you can walk around it and see it from many different perspectives. That is the beauty of the experience of a song. My songs can and should be interpreted in any way you see fit. This is simply a window into my perspective, from where I’m standing, as I am seeing them now.   

1. Where To Begin 

I decided to delve deeper into the use of orchestral arrangements on this record. The opening feels like an ancient radio transmission from deep space, coming into range. The three-word start was something I kept coming back to, like I was picturing an elder figure, sitting down and sifting through the pages of a book to find the beginning of a chapter, and uttering “okay now, where to begin…” This song for me is an exploration of how life can be cyclical, whether we like it or not, and that we are simply a reflection of the cycles of nature.    

2. Sirens Of The Sea 

The opening melody to this song came to me while I was in Ojai, California. It set the stage for something that really intrigued me, and the line “morning came golden…” shows up later in the record with a different twist. What ended up happening lyrically was some of the lines I’m most proud of on the record. Lines that fit like puzzle pieces with their complex rhyme scheme, and mythical references. This song feels like a dream I might’ve had along the way.   

3. Stone and Clay  

Grappling with the temporary and fleeting nature of life. Exploring the idea of “if only…” over and over again. This song seemed to really speak to my late brother Ben, who engineered all the drums, keys, and strings on the record. It was one of his favorites. I had a lot of fun with the juxtaposed rhythmic phrase of the banjos over the outro, and loved coming up with the string arrangement to transition to the key of the next song. For me, the first half of the record feels like one continuous idea because of these transitions. A nod to George Martin and The Beatles.     

 4. Giants  

I wrote this song in the weeks after Leonard Cohen died. When word of his passing reached me, I revisited his albums and landed on the song “Stranger Song”, learned it and recorded it, and was inspired to write what became “Giants”. The whole idea started with “among the giants, I was lying, just to try and measure up.” This line sums up a lot of how I feel in music often… humbled by the work of giants, just trying to measure up. It is a deeply personal and vulnerable song. 

Covenhoven calls A Kind Of Revelation his “ocean record.” Photo credit: Shaun Boyte

5. Passing Through

This song is intentionally the beginning to side two (if you listen to it on vinyl) or the midway point of the record, and the opening phrase “suddenly, the spring was the summer” takes us to the next phase of the story. “Where To Begin” places you in late winter, “with the spring time coming around again.” I wanted to explore how I could make the songs and the overall flow of the record have this feel of the changing seasons.  We’re all just passing through. The last line gives me chills now in the wake of my brother’s passing. “Bathed in a light that seemed everlasting, until the night it was bright red flashing blue, I guess we’re all just passing through.” 

6. Camino Real 

Opening with a different version of the same idea from “Sirens of the Sea”, I use the lyrics, “morning came blurry…” This is a love letter to beautiful California. Simply put, it’s a road song. I love Ben Waligoske’s beautiful pedal steel playing on this track. It was kind of a no-brainer. Leif Vollebekk’s amazing record “Twin Solitude” served as the soundtrack for a lot of my travels while writing this record, hence the reference to his song “East of Eden”. 

“We rang every bell down Camino Real” refers to the old iron bells that now ornament the “Royal Road” called historic El Camino Real (Highway 101). This song has a warm, late summer feel to me.   

7. Ghost of Kerouac 

This song took a long time to write. For me it represents the hopeful act of writing a song. The sense of hopefulness that songwriters can both instill and hope to get back from the songs. Sometimes it happens, often it doesn’t. But when it does… well that’s probably the reason we do it in the first place. Written mostly during my time in Big Sur, you could say Kerouac was on my mind.     

 8. Miner of This Heart 

In some ways this is another song about songs and songwriting, or just art in general. Comparing the toils of a miner to an artist. The line “been betting on these empty veins” has a dual meaning; the comparison of violins to light, for me is spot on, and might be why I love using that sound on my records so much. This is also where the record begins to feel more autumn than summer.   

9. A Kind Of Revelation

There are a lot of things going on in this song for me. It’s a love letter to simpler times when music may have had more “impact” because there was simply less of it and it was harder to find or come by, compared to modern times, and at the same time it’s talking about young and fresh versus old and weathered ears. 

I reference one of my all time favorites, Beethoven, because I feel like he was tapped into something much deeper spiritually with his music, than many of his contemporaries (and much of what has come after him). This is also the only song on the record that I wrote completely on piano, and when I wrote the last line and came up with the outro instrumental, I knew it had to be the end of the record. In some ways it’s my humble ode and nod to Beethoven. For me, it’s a deeply moving song with many layers.   

Covenhoven A Kind Of Revelation is out now.