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Dan Hubbard's New EP A Family Affair

Dan Hubbard during a live online performance from "The Toy Room" in his basement
Dan Hubbard
Dan Hubbard during a live online performance from "The Toy Room" in his basement.

Family took center stage on Dan Hubbard's new five-song EP “Fall in Love Again (Quarantine Lullabies)”.

The Bloomington-based singer/songwriter said his wife and kids were not just the inspiration for the intimate acoustic recording. They became part of it.

“While I was doing overdubs, I guess I was doing this guitar solo for one of the songs. And you could hear my boys fighting in the background like brothers do. And as I listened back, I was just like, ‘That sounds cool,’ it sounds like it's a happy accident,” said Hubbard.

So, he embraced the family theme.

“There's even a moment when I'm recording this song ‘Fasha’ about my dad, I recorded it in the same room with my kids. I just told them to be a little quiet. When the song is over, you can hear my son Ben say ‘Hey, Dad,’ and I go, ‘Yeah bud.’ It was another one of those happy accidents, like it's a song about fathers and sons. And then you can hear my son calling for me at the end,” said Hubbard.

From there he recruited his three children to sing and clap on the album's last song, “We’re Alright.”

“I thought it would be a great way to end the album in a joyous manner,” said Hubbard.

The album opens with “Power Wheels,” which Hubbard said was the impetus to flesh out the EP. It was written specifically for then 6-year-old son Emery, as Hubbard said his daughter and other son already had songs written for or about them.

No reason to hurry And I don’t want you to worry And I promise you are gonna live a long, long, time “Power Wheels” by Dan Hubbard

“And so, we're in a pandemic, and we're so uncertain about everything. One night, Emery just said, ‘I don't want to die. I've got too many things I want to do like drive a Power Wheels.’ That's the true lullaby song of the album, just trying to comfort my kids through all this and everything else kind of sprang from there,” said Hubbard.

“Fall in Love Again” also kept the touring musician busy during extended time at home and offered extra content for fans that likely would not have happened without the pandemic. But he said it also evolved into a joyous family project.

“There was a moment when I had this idea for the artwork … and I'm running it by my daughter, because she's an artist. Before you know it, my wife was joining in and my two boys are looking at this sketch we did and we're all talking about the artwork. And it's a moment I'll never forget, it was a way for me to capture this year together. Because I know it was super hard for a lot of people. It's been hard for my wife running a business, but it's been a blessing for us and something I wanted to capture … I think … this year together,” said Hubbard.

He said “The Promise” is about his faith. It revolves around a couple of different stories, including one he imagined after he saw the story of the life of a 100-year-old man while touring the south right before the pandemic hit. 

He’s got a hundred years under his belt More than a few lifetimes of stories to tell But there’s no one left to tell them to “The Promise” by Dan Hubbard

“How everyone around him has passed,” said Hubbard. “And he's had to make these new friendships and new connections, and it just caught my attention. About what keeps us going, and what gives us hope. In this life, I consider myself a man of faith. So, it was about a couple of different stories, but it's about me too. What keeps me going. I have what I consider to be a really blessed, lucky life. But I also know that there's something else that keeps me going, I guess.”

The last year has been difficult for many, at times disorienting, frustrating, and scary. Being off the road for an extended period and unexpectedly spending that time with family could have been fraught with potholes and landmines. As reflected in the album, Hubbard approached it as a time to reflect on several things, including his life and music career.

“For instance, the winters are always hard because I'm trying to tour around the Midwest in bad weather and make a little bit of money. There's not a lot of money to be made honestly, during those times. And this winter, the live stream thing has been awesome, because it's given me the opportunity to take a few weeks to plan a show and play the songs I want to play, what stories I want to tell. And I haven't had to leave and put myself at risk or my family."

As for the title track? He said it’s about rekindling the fire in his marriage.

“And that's about paying attention to one another,” said Hubbard. “But it's also, the more I think about that title, it's about music in general, taking time to reset and cutting out the things I wasn't enjoying and focusing on the things I am enjoying. And I have really just fallen in love with music all over again.”

The five-song EP ends with the optimistic sing-along “We're All Right.” 

“It's a couple of things,” said Hubbard. “It's kind of like a lullaby, saying everything's gonna be OK. That's optimistic, for sure. But the other part of it is … as I've gotten older and become a parent, it's hard for me to stay in the moment and enjoy certain moments. I find myself always like, ‘OK, this is good, but what's next and what do we got coming up?’ And I end up … all the madness that's going on in the world and it's horrible, but there is some good stuff. And I think it's okay to realize how lucky you are and to be able to sit in a moment and enjoy it. I don't think there's anything wrong with that.”

You can hear and download Dan Hubbard’s new EP “Fall in Love Again (Quarantine Lullabies)” now at DanHubbard.Net. Hubbard will broadcast a live intimate album release performance from "The Toyroom" on Facebook this Friday at 8 p.m.

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Jon Norton is the program director at WGLT and WCBU. He also is host of All Things Considered every weekday.