What: Carrie Elkin CD release party When: 7 p.m. Saturday Where: Depot Art Center, 1001 13th St.
As a semi-retired music engineer with a long Los Angeles career behind him, Scott Singer gets CDs all the time from well-meaning people who want to promote their friends.
He usually doesn't expect much, and he wasn't expecting much when his realtor handed him Carrie Elkin's CD while he was shopping at Safeway.
"Ninety-nine times out of 100, it's easily not very good," Singer said. "I was on my way to do some work with a friend. I was backing out and stuck the CD in my car.
"It was raw, but it made me stop. I put the car back in park and listened to the whole CD. I heard a type of songwriting that has been missing to me."
Singer decided he wanted to record Elkin's next CD.
"I wanted to develop her from a singer-songwriter into a recording artist," he said. "Everyone who helped on this CD worked for next to nothing, if they got paid at all."
Elkin's CD titled "The Waltz" was produced in Steamboat Springs by Singer and Tom Schwall in their A Room With No View recording studio and officially will be released Saturday during a free concert at the Depot Art Center.
Elkin will play on stage with Paul Potyen, Randy Kelley, Willie Samuelson, Mary Jarchow, Andrea Erickson and Mark Walker.
"The Waltz" includes nine original songs with one cover of the Beach Boys' "Don't Worry Baby."
Among the tracks, you can hear a tinge of that girl who sang in front of her church for years in the choir and a peek at the young woman who sat on a stool for so many years singing into a mike at coffeeshops, but after production, Elkin's singer-songwriter style translates into a more full-fledged alt-country sound.
The album is a marked difference from Elkin's two previous projects, which feature bare-bone tracks of her voice and her guitar.
Elkin wakes up at 5 a.m. every morning and goes straight to the writing table. With a pen and a notebook, she scribbles down lines that came to her in the night.
"Sometimes they are just random thoughts," she said. "And then I go back and pull out lines and themes for songs." Inevitably, her songs are about heartache and heartbreak. "It's the easiest thing to write about. But I'm getting better at writing when I'm happy."
Sometimes it takes weeks of scribbling and playing guitar on the couch to find a song, and sometimes they just pour out of her.
One of the last tracks on her new album is a song titled "Berlin," which she wrote in 45 minutes. She was living in Taos, N.M., in an old converted adobe dancehall.
"I sat down, and the song just came out of me," she said. "I was going through a lot of changes. It's really about living in the dark for a long time and then finally breathing clean air."