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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. Welcome to week 3!


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.

Song no. 3 is called "Textbook" and like last week's "After the Fall", it's from the first of the Tim Thorney sessions.

So, here's a song that is clearly about a relationship. Well, aren't they all, really? Whatever you may be writing about, the act itself is an illustration of you relating to the subject at hand be it a person, a feeling, a philosophy or a tree. But I think we can agree that there are capital "R-elationship songs", n'est-ce pas?

And I can't talk about the writing of such without thinking about my de facto songwriting guru, Alanis Morissette. I once heard her say something to this effect-- that these kinds of songs essentially end up being about oneself. And when I look at my own songs in the capital R category I can see how right she is. A song may have been inspired by one specific person or incident but often, as time goes on, I can see how parts of it seem to apply to other relationships in my life ("but it was so specific when I wrote it",  she cries!). Oh, sooo....the common denominator there is...? Oh. Right.

It's funny to discover/uncover one's own dynamic in relationships as revealed by the writing about another person. And then if you're Alanis, you go even further and write exquisitely aching, vulnerable songs about owning or owning up to these dynamics. Songs like "Madness" and "20/20" from the brilliant Flavors Of Entanglement album of 2008 spring immediately to mind. And "Havoc" from the 2012 havoc and bright lights. Talk about revealing.  Oh, how I love and admire these songs. I guess you could say that Alanis is also a kind of psycho-emotional guru; I have learned so much about human nature from her very personal musical expressions. It has to do with her musical genius, her willingness and her keen heart-mind of course, but it's also something to do with finding the universal in the specific.

Extrapolate a bit and you might see this paradigm in almost all artistic expression. It may seem textbook, but it never ceases to resonate for me.


Tim Thorney

Phenomenal show: AM in glorious voice w/ 2 acoustic guitars,
1 pair of Louboutins!


Sometimes you get the set list!

Here's Textbook.

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