In the hills of East Alabama, Willem Maker spent more than a decade honing his songwriting skills in virtual secrecy, but in 2007, he finally released Stars Fell On, a rock record of a debut which was recorded and mixed entirely at his own Foxhole studio on Turkey Heaven Mountain. Originally released by Makerworks, the disc was reissued by Big Legal Mess (Fat Possum) in 2008, in anticipation of a new full-length for the label entitled New Moon Hand.
The sessions for his sophomore effort pushed Maker far from the idyllic comforts of a secluded home studio, with adventurous collaborations taking place in Nashville and Memphis. Along with four solo tracks from the infamous Foxhole, two were done with Mark Nevers at the Beech House, featuring members of Lambchop and Silver Jews, and six at Electraphonic Recording with co-producer Scott Bomar and a band that included Cedric Burnside, Jim Dickinson and Alvin Youngblood Hart. New Moon Hand was released in 2009, resulting in Maker’s first extensive US tour and a kind New York Times nod in their yearly best-of lists.
For his third long-player, Agapao, released in 2011 as a lovely Makerworks limited edition CD, Willem played and recorded everything himself at the Foxhole, but this is no minimal solo-folksinger effort. Besides being at times a heavily layered and orchestrated affair, the record rocks in its own weird way when in the mood, and with mixing by Mark Nevers, mastering by Sarah Register and artwork by Christoph Mueller, the result is a beautiful, collectible disc of over an hour’s worth of music, completing Maker’s debut trilogy with what could be considered his most accomplished, optimistic and uplifting work to date, hailed in the New York Times as one of the best one-man band records ever.
Four years later, Makerworks delivered The Earth Is All That Lasts. Thematically speaking, TEIATL was intended as a dark twin to the openhearted Agapao – so dark, in fact, that Maker contemplated more than once abandoning the project altogether. It wasn’t until this “best country rock singer-songwriter from East Alabama who you have never heard of” felt that he had enough distance from the material to approach it more as a producer and performer than as a confessional songwriter that this Makerworks digital release began to take shape at the Foxhole, finally completed with the same creative team as Agapao.
2019 brings the beginning of a Makerworks series of singles entitled The Driving Ones (click here for info on Volume 1) ...