Bluffton singer-songwriter Trevor Harden began his online project, "One Love, One Year," to try to sort through his feelings about the end of his nine-year marriage.
But the original songs he's written, recorded and released weekly for free download since Nov. 1 are not all angst and anger. In his first blog entry at www.trevorharden.com, Harden made it clear that while he began the project to work through the break-up, he wouldn't make every song all about him. His goal for the project is to step out of his own shoes and into new ones -- those of his "friends, of archetypes, of myth, of people I see around me ... to see what can be uncovered as it relates to the topic of love."
The idea for the project began when, in the midst of the divorce, Harden, 31, found himself thinking, "What now?"
"I wanted to use this time the best way I could," he said. "I thought I'd dive into my music a little bit, but instead I decided to go all the way. I thought it might help me process a lot of the emotional stuff that was going on."
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"One Love, One Year" gave him a goal.
"It just came to me as something I wanted to try," he said. "I wanted to look at the idea of love, not only from a gushy angle, but also the dysfunction and the parts that are messy."
A drummer since middle school, Harden studied classical guitar in college, and has since been in various groups -- including a successful Pink Floyd tribute band.
Harden recognizes that for most people, the songwriter's process is "a bit mysterious." For the "One Love, One Year" project, his songs have all begun "with a lyric line or a certain theme" that he wants to write about.
"I'm trying to be pretty intentional about where I'm going lyrically," he said, citing as inspirations watching his daughter play or having conversations with a close friend who's also at the end of a relationship.
"I wait for something to hit me," he said. "It may be something I see out in the wild. Then I grab onto an idea or a mind-set or a feeling."
As an "unashamed fan of pop music," Harden cites Sting as a musician whose music and lyrics he loves, saying the singer "has always been my main man." Harden said he particularly enjoys "the artists who can go from a reggae song to a country song. I've always been drawn to those kinds of artists who you never know what you're going to hear next."
He, too, is not tied to a sound or a particular style, which he said he can see might be a problem in the future for marketability.
"But I don't care right now," he said. "Because I can basically do what I want."
He records the songs in his home studio, a set-up he called "ridiculously simple," but eventually he'd like to get into a studio and record the best work that comes out of the project.
"They say if you write 10 songs, you get one good one," he said, "so I want 10-12 songs to come out of this that I'm really proud of, to take into the studio."
One or more albums might result from the project, Harden said, and he's considering putting a group together to play some of the work in the right venues.
"The style of the songs is meant to be a listening experience," he said. "I'm not really playing beats for people to dance to while they go get another beer."
"If something comes of this" process, Harden said, "I'm going for it." But he doesn't spend much time thinking about the long-term. For now, the project is meant to be more of a look at an artist working at what he loves.
"I'm letting people in on the process now," he said. "I see this as 'old school' artist development. People can peek in the door and watch me work. It's not always pretty, but I'm letting people in."