It's been about a decade since Jimmy Stadler, one of Taos' most popular musicians, released his last CD. He has received many requests from his fans for a new one over the years, and it has been on his mind. Then, in November 2019, he wrote a song called "Super Ability" for the sister of one of his music students who had cerebral palsy. He credits writing that song with giving him the creative spark needed to work on a new album. His slowed-down schedule due to the pandemic also helped, Stadler said in a phone interview.
The resulting CD, "A Different Light," is a diverse sampling of Stadler's signature songwriting style. Stadler's lyrics are written straight from the heart and show off his ability to tell a story with a few choice words, whether it's funny, poignant or full of love. The rich musical language that Stadler is so fluent in, adds dimensionality and brings out the personality of each story. The songs swing, jump and croon in turn.
Stadler's new album includes a number of songs that he wrote by request. Among them, two birthday songs ("Cruizin' " and "Birthdays Ain't So Bad") and "2nd Time Around" written for a couple who got married on the coast of Maine. Another song, "Tattoos and Toe Shoes" came from his brother-in-law who called up with the catchy phrase and challenged Stadler to write a song about it. Happy to oblige, Stadler made up a story about a woman with tattoos who wore a pair of those funny-looking toe shoes that separate each toe into a separate compartment.
"The Answer is Love" is a robust love song and a tribute to the long-lasting love of musicians Bill and Bonnie Hearne. Stadler wrote it with Shake Russell and Michael Hearne, and both artists have released recordings of the song featuring Stadler on piano. On Stadler's version, which he dedicated to his wife Bunny, he sings the lead and fellow songwriter Michael Hearne joins in on a verse. The CD's title "A Different Light" comes from a lyric of "The Answer is Love."
"Mother" is a tender song that Stadler wrote for his own mother, but it spills over with an all-encompassing love that is a beautiful tribute to all mothers. It's also the oldest song on the album.
"I wrote it for my mother 20 years ago," explained Stadler. "There are nine children in our family. What in the world do you give to your mother that no one else in the family is going to give? I wrote her this song. She actually did get a chance to hear it before she passed … It's very sentimental."
Stadler said that while he has always had other people produce his previous albums, this time he took charge of the production, while working with Omar Rane at the Tone Palace Studio in Arroyo Seco. The collaboration allowed Stadler to stay close to home.
"I've known Omar for 30 years. He's a great technician. He's smart. And, we get along, said Stadler when asked what it was like to work with Rane. "We communicated well. We never had an argument. It was a real pleasure."
Stadler's musical generosity comes through in each track. He is joined by his bandmates David Toland on bass guitar and Mark Clark on drums with special guests Carmen Acciaioli, Michael Hearne and Sage Ferrell. All other musical accompaniment is from Stadler himself.
Stadler told me some of the most fun he had working on the album was finessing the harmonies.
"I tried to do my very best," Stadler said. "This is my best on my own with nobody but me calling the shots. These songs are from the heart, and I didn't hold back, I didn't second guess."
To order your copy of "A Different Light," which is being released this December 2020, go to jimmystadler.com. The album is available as a CD and by digital download. Two of Stadler's releases from the 1990s will also be made available: "Jimmy Stadler and the Colliders" and Jimmy Stadler's "New Man." These two older albums can be purchased together with "A Different Light" on a USB drive.
In addition to being a working musician and teaching music for Taos Academy Charter School, Jimmy Stadler offers private music lessons. For more information contact Stadler through his website, jimmystadler.com.