Words, Music & Wardrobes: The Story Behind Kellyann’s Debut Album

Fresh Manna - A Testimony Through Song: Vicky Reid, Kellyann Lea, Daniel J. Logan, Joe Topping, Lara Simpson & Lesley-Ann Geary
Clockwise from top left: Vicky Reid, Kellyann Lea, Daniel J. Logan, Joe Topping, Lara Simpson & Lesley-Ann Geary

Having performed in the same session band a few years previously, Daniel J. Logan teamed up with Kellyann Lea in the summer of 2020 to record and produce her debut album, Fresh Manna.

Besides being a collection of Kellyann’s music and lyrics, Fresh Manna presented an opportunity to also support and raise money for a local food bank in Liverpool during the COVID-19 pandemic. A successful crowdfunding campaign via GoFundMe set the groundwork for the project to launch.

During pre-production, it was decided to keep all instrumentation authentic, avoiding the use of MIDI and samples, and so Dan and Kellyann soon made their way over to Edge Studio in Cheshire to begin recording (with the help of engineer Gaz Dupes), drawn by a beautiful upright piano and the lively acoustic of the space.

Joe Topping, who joined the Oak Tree Music roster towards the end of last year, played expressive, deep guitar parts (as well as mandolin and baritone guitar), adding weight to the music and giving it a strong foundation to build on. Sessions with Joe were staggered to work around his busy schedule, as he was in the process of competing in the televised finals of The Voice UK. After the guitar parts had been recorded, Oak Tree Music’s virtuoso violinist Lara Simpson and cellist Vicky Reid were brought in to help support the strong melodies and vocal sound. They added a rich string layer to many of the songs and, between them, created a sound that was large and full, belying the fact that there were only two instruments producing it.

Lara tells us, “I really enjoyed playing on Kellyann’s album. The songs were really beautiful, and we found it very easy and natural to add strings to the tunes. We came up with the arrangements mainly on the day with the help of Kellyann and producer Dan, who were both very helpful and easy to work with”.

“A nice thing about working at Edge is their collection of outboard gear,” says Dan. “For example, one of the fun parts for me was when we recorded the Hammond organ played by Lesley-Ann Geary. I got the sound by running the signal through Edge’s Distressor compressor to get it nicely overdriven — I may have gotten a bit carried away, but it sounded great in the mix!”

Although the album was produced almost entirely in the studio, there was one exception. When it came to vocals, Kellyann preferred the familiarity of home surroundings, and so Dan travelled up to Liverpool, and the pair set about building what became dubbed as ‘Narnia Studios’, as half of it was in her wardrobe!

“Working within my artist’s budget and requirements always needs thought and careful planning, but the results, if done properly, can be fantastic,” Dan notes. “And ‘Narnia Studios’ did afford me a beautiful view across the Liverpool skyline whilst we were recording!”

The album was mixed under Dan’s hybrid approach of using digital and select analogue equipment before being sent off to Mike Cave for mastering.

But the process of getting Fresh Manna out into the world was not yet complete! Oak Tree Music helped guide Kellyann through the administrative minefield of the release, involving registering her work with the PRS and PPL as well as their US counterparts. This tailored service is available to anyone who feels they would benefit from release support and advice, and further information can be found here.

Fresh Manna is out now, sounding fantastic, and we’re thrilled to see Kellyann’s songs being heard and enjoyed by so many! Make sure you grab a copy of the album here — and treat yourself to some merch while you’re at it!