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George Ducas overcomes sophomore slump

By Jeffrey B. Remz, January 1997

Avoiding the dreaded sophomore slump isn't so easy.

Music history is lined with artists known for either one hit song or album, who end up in questions starting with "whatever happened to..."

George Ducas adopted an unusual tact in releasing his second album, "Where I Stand," which possesses a more optimistic outlook than his debut from 1994.

Although slated to come out last August, Ducas and his management told his record label, Capitol, to delay the release.

Usually the record company will do so when the first single from an album isn't shooting up the charts. And that is what happened with "Every Time She Passes By," the first single and song on the album.

"About three weeks into that single, we stopped it and pulled it and chose to re-release it in November," Ducas says. "We obviously had to re-release the album."

Ducas says the decision to pull the single resulted because there was "a lot more music out there. We felt we put the song out at a time when there was so much out there when a lot of it wasn't ever going to get the chance to break through."

"Maybe the radio stations have more than (they can handle)," Ducas says. "They're surrounded by so much music that it's impossible to play it all."

The second go round of "Every Time" found it charting, but it was "not burning up the charts. The one good thing about the re-release is it got a lot of press. It focused a whole lot of people on it. The video got a lot of airplay and so much in fact that the song sold top 20 in cassette single sales. I felt really good about that."

"I feel good that it did its job in that telling people there's a new George Ducas album out there," Ducas says of the Jan. 14 release.

He is confident he made the right decision in delaying the release to a slower time in the music industry. "I think it's going to prove to pay off," he says. "It was hard for me at the time. Touring plans often hinge around the release of an album. That delayed everything about playing music live. That's the most difficult thing. It makes (me) that much more eager to get out and play."

But the question remains whether Ducas can get his second album out there as he did his first, largely due to the success of the single "Lipstick Promises."

Ducas says he isn't worried about the new album. "I feel good about it. We're in a much better place. It's a much stronger album than the first one."

The self-titled debut focused on the perils of love, not exactly an upbeat look at matters of the heart.

"There's hope," Ducas says of the new songs. "I just was more comfortable covering a wider array of subjects. I was confident that I could cover that ground successfully. It's just where I was at the time. During the making of the first album, on a personal level and on artistic level, I was (thinking) about those subjects at the time - the heartbreak and the loss."

"A lot of times, those types of songs do make for the longstanding and outstanding music," he says. "But it's not universally so. I tried to open myself up to those other options."

"Heartaches and Dreams," co-written with Kostas, says that's "all I've got left here without you," while the title of "You're Only My Everything" says it all. Ducas says the latter was based, in part, on personal experience.

"Every Time..." was "a prime example of covering new ground," Ducas says. "It's certainly the most optimistic and upbeat song I've recorded and have ever had out at radio. I feel comfortable with being able to be more diverse."

Ducas mixes it up musically with touches of Roy Orbison ("You're Only My Everything"), a slow Texas shuffle ("The Invisible Man") and a Tex-Mex feel ("Tricky Moon").

The songs tend to have a more in your face musical quality to them, more vigorous sounding.

Ducas assembled much of the same team this time around. Richard Bennett, known for his work with Steve Earle, still is producing.

Tia Sellers, who co-wrote "Lipstick Promises," is back teaming up with Ducas on two songs, "Stay The Night" and "Tricky Moon," which, in part, due to the piano of Ton Harrell, sounds like something that would appear on a disc by The Mavericks. The former echoes "Lipstick Promises" in some respects.

Ducas says he felt the vocals were "definitely" stronger on the new album. "I was more comfortable. It was a lot more enjoyable to make an album the second time around. That's reflected in how things sound and also the way we wound up mixing the record. The vocals were much more upfront. There's just pretty much an honest sound. It's really me right there. The more you can do that, the more honest and true the record will be and the music will be."

"We talked about the vocals being more honest and more upfront. We tried to record the whole album that way. We tried to give a live band feel. If we didn't lay an entire song down with the whole band on the same take, we tried to give it that effect."

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