I’ve recently began recording guitar work for a talented Virginia-based singer/songwriter/musician, Erin Reilly. Erin is a music educator and has a degree in music from Shenandoah Conservatory/Shenandoah University. Ironically, Shenandoah was where I was planning to pursue my education in music after I graduated High School in NY, but that’s a whole other story.

Her song writing is a unique fusion of different styles. Her arrangements are musically progressive and her lyrics are well-written and gospel-centered. Her Christian convictions come through strong and clear in her songs. The purposeful delivery of the Gospel message in her music is a priority to her, which is the main reason I became interested in contributing my guitar work. We have those shared convictions regarding faith and music which makes it easy for me to work with her as opposed to my contributing guitar work for an artist who holds a different worldview.

Musical Challenges

Because there is a fairly high level of sophistication and complexity in Erin’s music, it has made it particularly fun and challenging for me to work on. The fact that she is able to provide me with charts of her compositions in actual musical notation, rather than guitar tab, is another reason I like working with Erin on her songs. I prefer to read music than read guitar tab. Some of the artist I’ve contributed guitar work only send me the demo and I have to spend a period of time charting out the music by ear, which creates more work for me.

I’ve originally heard some of Erin’s jazz-styled music in a social media group for Christian musicians and songwriters. But it turned out that she also writes music that is an edgy rock style and also mixes lush jazz harmonies in her instrumental arrangements along with rich background vocals. The need for having a “real live” edgy rock guitar sound in her songs, rather than a synthetically-created sound done with her keyboards, was the reason that she asked for my help. Unbeknownst to her, the guitar stylings she was looking for in her music were styles that I haven’t played for many years and I’ve had to get reacquainted with playing like that. I’ve generally straddle the fence between (mostly) jazz and some mild rock playing with a strong emphasis in blues. Erin’s songs required heavy rock guitar and grungy stylings. Fortunately, I have the guitars and equipment to produce those sounds and also I didn’t have to dig very far to be able to pull it out of myself – but it did take a little bit of practice.

The most challenging part of working on her songs was the metronome speed of her songs; They were FAST! She also incorporates shifting speeds in a few of her songs so the metronome or click tracking would change. That was something I wasn’t used to and it all required some practice before any actual recording would take place. Also the parts are written from a keyboard player’s perspective and needed to be revised to be “guitar friendly”. Sometimes I’ve added parts as well as re-wrote parts while keeping the spirit of her musical intent intact.

Below are the songs written by Erin that I’ve contributed guitar work. They are represented by 2 versions or mixes. The first ones are my personal working versions of my guitar work. The other is Erin’s final finished versions which she has released in both audio as well as video versions. You’ll really appreciate her talent as a composer, instrumentalist and singer in her versions. Check both versions out as they’ll give you a glimpse of her music from 2 different musical angles. One thing you’ll see about her song videos is that she’s also talented in video production as well. They are really well done. I’ve also included links at the bottom for you to hear more of Erin’s other songs.


Guitar Work Song Versions/Mixes

Below are a few of the recording mixes of my guitar work on her songs. They feature Erin’s vocals and instrumental playing but the guitars are predominant in the recordings and come across more edgier and aggressive because of that. These are the mixes I use to listen to for inconsistencies/mistakes in my playing and gauge my work and ideas. These files are closer to my finished or fixed work after I’ve sent the rough tracks to Erin for her critiquing and suggestions. To listen to them, click on each song title below to listen. A new page will open then click on the “Play” icon at the top.

WON’T LOOK BACK!

This was a fast tune and features Erin’s strong vocals sung with conviction, fast guitar parts, hairy bass lines and insane drum parts laced with Jazzy chords and background vocals.

“COME ALIVE”

A fun blues-rock tune in very much a “Classic Rock” style written in a classic rock shuffle. This was a fun tune to play and right in my wheelhouse! Features Erin belting out really great rocking vocals and full background vocal parts, rocking guitar parts and punchy bass and drum parts. This whole song is guitar-driven and has no other instruments other than a power trio arrangement.

“In or Not”

Another fun tune with some fun lyrics, vocals and looney-rocking guitar parts and background horn parts. Another really cool highlight of this tune is Erin’s blistering fiddle solo. She originally told me she was going to do it over because she felt it was too sloppy. I responded and told her not to change it because it was raw and perfect the way it was and fit the feel of the song. She hasn’t released this one yet and I may need to redo some guitar parts on it.

“One Day”

When Erin sent the arrangement of this song, she warned me she wasn’t very “friendly” to the instrument parts. She wasn’t kidding. This one was involved and challenging to play. One of the parts in the middle required a very fast melodic line that pushed me to the brink of what my technique was able to do. And if that wasn’t enough, I had to do it twice because the part was doubled in unison and broke off into a harmony. I had to practice it a bit before I was able to nail it. The entire piece was a beast to play but of course everything Erin sends my way has been fun and worth it, especially because of the message of the song and her intent for writing it. The final version in the video was especially good. when she let me hear the final mix for my thoughts I let her know the bridge part was terrifying. Check out the video and you’ll see why.

Set Your Mind

This song is written with a bit of a Prog Rock vibe and and features Erin’s rock soloing skills on the keyboards as well as her vocal work on a catchy theme. Check out her final mix and production on the video after you listen to my guitar mix linked here. Set Your Mind is written after the bible verse: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3)


Erin’s Lyric Videos with the Finished Audio Production

Below, I’ve included Erin’s lyric videos with the final mixes of her songs that I played on. Those mixes are less focused on the guitar work and showcase her excellent vocal and instrumental work. Her capabilities really shines through on these mixes. She’s also quite talented in producing the video work on these songs. Her song messages are timeless.


Song by Erin Reilly (Vocals, Keys, Arrangement), Guitars played by Jimmy Cruz

Song by Erin Reilly (Vocals, Keys, Arrangement), Guitars played by Jimmy Cruz

Song by Erin Reilly (Vocals, Keys, Arrangement), Guitars played by Jimmy Cruz

Song by Erin Reilly (Vocals, Keys, Violin, Arrangement), Guitars played by Jimmy Cruz

Song by Erin Reilly (Vocals, Keys, Arrangement), Guitars played by Jimmy Cruz

Song by Erin Reilly (Vocals, Keys, Arrangement), Guitars played by Jimmy Cruz

More on Erin

Check out the following links to her other songs, which are excellent. Also consider making a financial contribution to support her art on Patreon below.