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         /ˌdiləˈtänt, diləˈtäntē/,   noun


a person who purposefully dabbles in many different pursuits.

Songs by Nell Balaban

Dilettante is a collection of songs I’ve written and recorded over the last 10 years or so.


I'm excited to share them and will be releasing them in this space one at a time over the next couple of months.


We could call it a record, an album, or a playlist.


All the tunes were produced and recorded in Canada in various locations; wherever Tim Thorney (the great!) has had his studio, Villa Sound, that’s where I’d go, from Toronto to the lovely Blue Mountains of Ontario.

Next up in the collection, After The Fall. This was the first song we did when I went into the studio with Tim so I have a special fondness for it. It was essentially my first time in any studio and I was excited (well...excited AND scared)! It was very cool to hear how he'd arranged the tune and in fact, I didn't recognize it at first. In a good way. Suddenly there was a shape to it. With builds and contours and drama, even! This was eye-opening (ear-opening?) and those first few listens were the first steps in expanding my musical understanding in a brand new way.

I did a scratch vocal and if memory serves, what happened next was that the very talented Brent Barkman, a keyboard player and frequent collaborator, added a piano part which is a perfect rhythmic match but also adds some very tasty little accents in and around certain lines in the verses. I like how these touches make the song move from section to section in a natural way. I think of them as little thought-bridges. And there are other instruments in the arrangement giving it a unique feel, like baritone guitar and probably some others I'm not familiar with but which, lucky for me, Tim Thorney is.

Then we took some (a lot of) time to get a decent vocal proper, and finally we got to the background vocals. This turns out to be my favorite part of the process. Sometimes I think I write songs just so I can figure out some harmonies. And I absolutely love what happened in the mixing process--the way the backgrounds became stacked, echoed and all that jazz! It was extremely enjoyable to hear the song grow into something more expansive than I had ever imagined. 

Here's After The Fall.






Tim Thorney

Backgrounds are delicious

i've searched my house high and low for a super cool photo i took of thorney during our AFTER THE FALL session back in the aughts but i cannot find it anywhere.



there were bike shorts and uggs.

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