"It was like a fever dream. Every day counting blessings for safe passage." Out there on the road with his battered guitar, playing 260 shows in just the last year and half, across 46 states and 14 countries, acclaimed troubadour Christopher Paul Stelling says he could see it all out there unfolding on the horizon. Amidst the euphoria of playing in bars, cafes, theaters, festivals, under bridges and in living rooms, were late night conversations with friends, new and old, about the undercurrents of tension and change in their countries and concerns about what was happening back in his own. He witnessed immigrant riots, saw the fires burning.
"Back in places like New York or Los Angeles it was harder to see," he says. "But go the a Walmart in Oklahoma and tell me this wasn't coming." And so Stelling wrote songs about it all. Darkly beautiful and powerful songs which became the album Itinerant Arias. "I wrote this album about something that hadn't happened yet, and now it's happened," he says. "I played the songs for people and they said, ‘That's not what's going to happen.' And I would tell them, it really is. I'm not patting myself on the back about it. But I had been out their traveling the world, seeing it building. When driving by refuge camps and seeing people behind barbed wire fences it breaks you."
Unlike previous records, Itinerant Arias finds Stelling backed by a band, electrified if you will. It is a record inspired by movement and travel. The album cover a photograph taken by Stelling himself depicting an arrangement of found objects on his table. With a little more than a week before returning to the road, he retreated to a friend's Connecticut cabin out in the woods with some musician friends. They slept there, ate there and didn't leave for the next eight days, recording the haunting and powerful record.