We can’t conceal our excitement about Portraits: 32 Singers, 32 Songs , uniting many spectacular Bay Area artists going solo for a 2-disc compilation intended to create community. Greg Edwards, booker of the Modesto show series Off the Air, conceived the project over a year ago as an artistic crosscutting of photography, music and illustration:

“The original idea for the music portion of “Portraits” was that the songs would be a stripped down snapshot of the songwriters, that the they would keep things as minimal as possible when writing their tracks so their voice wouldn’t get lost in production and/or a full on band-driven track…We also took this keep-it-simple outline for the songs and applied it to the photos as well, photographing only the songwriters and not their full bands.”

Indeed, Portraits gives its many musicians the chance to define themselves as songwriters, perhaps in a way distinct from their ordinary musical arrangements. At large, the compilation is raw, sentimental, and so intimate that throughout the full listen I kept asking myself: “did I just steal this out of someone’s personal home recordings?”.

Web music player

Included in the 32-artist roster are some phenomenal local artists: Sean Duncan (Kid Mud), Mike Sempert (Birds & Batteries), and Garrett Pierce, as well as Jim Fairchild (All Smiles, Grandaddy) among many others. The website offers more information about the project, as well as the absolutely breathtaking black-and-white portraits of each contributor taken by Douglas Holcomb. Portraits will see a formal release show and art reception at CityArt Gallery on July 10, but for now, the entire album and its artwork is available to preview and, beginning May 1, to purchase online.