Rick Lang | The Undertow

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The Undertow

by Rick Lang

I am a songwriter, my recorded works featuring all original material.
Genre: Country: Bluegrass
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Lighthouse
3:11 $0.99
2. Massachusetts Turnpike
4:59 $0.99
3. Keep the Light Burning Abby
4:41 $0.99
4. Shipwreck of Love
3:10 $0.99
5. Marginal Way
3:28 $0.99
6. Young Sailor's Dream
4:17 $0.99
7. Rye Harbour
4:06 $0.99
8. Widow's Walk
3:57 $0.99
9. The Rising Tide
3:49 $0.99
10. Blood Red Sky
2:42 $0.99
11. Treasures in the Sand
3:25 $0.99
12. The Undertow
5:18 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"The Undertow"_ Liner Notes

Songwriting has been my life's greatest passion over the course of the last thirty years or so. I tend to write about what I know and am familiar with. It's not surprising that several of my songs have something to do with the sea.
I grew up in Exeter NH, just twenty miles or so from the ocean. As children, my sister, brothers and I spent many a summer day on the Hampton and Rye Beaches swimming, building sand castles, flying kites, looking for seashells and starfish. Our great aunt & uncle, Gertrude and Paul Hudon, owned and operated a popular seafood restaurant at Hampton Beach (with an incredible panoramic view of the ocean) where we all worked at one time or another.
My ancestry can be traced back to Christopher Cristian Lang born in 1548, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. His son Robert sailed to America, landing at the Isles Of Shoals where he lived before he settled at Sagamore Creek on the NH coast. Dad was a Navy man and spent long periods of time at sea, as did my younger brother George. Our mom, especially in her later years, frequented the ocean as a place of solace and refuge. After she passed away mom's ashes were spread at sea per request.

A few years ago I came to the realization that I had amassed a collection of over two dozen songs where the settings and story lines had some connection to the ocean. All were based on, or inspired by, real life stories and experiences. I thought they would make for a very interesting concept album, so in 2011 started to make plans to record a dozen of them. A lot of my own life's experience, our family and ancestry is interwoven in the lines and verses, choruses of these tunes. I turned to my longtime friend Bob Dick to produce the recording, which features many of the musicians and vocalists I have performed, recorded, written with over time. The end result exceeded any expectation I had when we first started. I sincerely hope you enjoy listening to this new recorded work, and if you’re ever in the area feel free to stop to visit some of the places mentioned in these songs. The destination will be worth the journey.

"The Undertow"_About The Songs

Blood Red Sky
For the last three decades I've been trying to gain a greater understanding of why my younger brother took his own life back in 1984. It was a devastating tragedy our family never really recovered from, that still continues to haunt us to this very day. I'd been holding it all inside for a very long time, and finally was able to find some kind of closure through the writing of this song.

Shipwreck Of Love
Always had this idea of using the analogy of a shipwreck at sea to a failed relationship. For some reason I seem to be more comfortable writing love disaster songs as opposed to ones with happy endings. Not really sure why. Really liked the visual imagery here, and seemed like a good fit for this album.

Treasures In The Sand
As a young boy, our mom would take my sister, brothers and me down to the ocean on many a summer day. The New Hampshire coast was only about 20 miles from where we grew up in the town of Exeter. There we would swim, fly kites, build sand castles, and look for seashells, starfish, driftwood washed up on the shore. This song was based on my recollection of those happy times.

Keep The Light Burning Abby
This is the very first tune my songwriting buddy Ted DeMille and I wrote together. The story line of the song is based on a children's book about a lighthouse keeper and his daughter (Abby) who lived up on the Maine coast. It's actually a true story and Ted was able to track down Abby's grave site near the lighthouse. This is one of my favorite cuts on the album, and over time inspired me to write several other songs with ocean themes.

Widows Walk
Dating back to the early 19th Century, Widow's Walks were platforms built on seaside housetops where wives of sailing men could look out to the ocean for their husbands ship as it sailed from, and back to port. They are very common up and down the New England Coastline. Oftentimes it became a place of sadness and mourning when their sailors never returned, as many a ship went down at sea in those days. Hence the name Widow's Walk. This is one of my favorite co-writes with good friend Rich Schleckser.

A lighthouse was a comforting sight to the sea-faring man. In the dark of night, in the fog, ocean storms, the beacon of a lighthouse would guide them safely to shore. To this day lighthouses still play an important role, preventing disasters at sea. This was another successful collaborative effort with my buddy Rich Schleckser. Glad we had an opportunity to record the tune.

Young Sailors Dream
This song was inspired by some old pictures of my parents taken back in the day when they first met, and eventually married. Dad was a handsome young navy man and look striking in his white sailors uniform. Mom was a beautiful young lass, and looking stunning in her wedding gown. I'd always wondered about the beginnings of their relationship and how it all got started. I decided to write their story through this song. Some is true, some is fiction. The setting takes place in Scotland, where the Lang ancestry can be traced to.

The Marginal Way
Located on the Southern Maine Coast, the Marginal Way is a footpath that winds along the rocky coastline with some spectacular panoramic views of the ocean. I remember the first time I walked the trial, noticing couple after couple, young and old, holding hands as they walked along, feeling a sense of love in the air. Over time I came to realize this is truly a very spiritual place. My wife and I have a long standing tradition that each spring, around our anniversary, we would walk the Marginal Way together. This is a song I was meant to write.

The Undertow
The undertow is a most powerful force, hidden far beneath the oceans surface. If you have ever been swimming in the sea in the and felt the undertow grab and drag you down to the ocean floor, it is a sensation you will never forget. It is in control and you are totally helpless.
This song is an analogy between the turmoil in a relationship, and the turmoil of the undertow. Many a couple have got caught up in it, but not every one would survive it's wrath.

Massachusetts Turnpike
The setting is in the historic fishing village of Gloucester Mass. A fisherman and his son are the main characters. The young man had no interest in following in his fathers footsteps. The life of a fisherman was not easy....back breaking work, risks out at sea, and low pay. He decides to leave home is search of a better way of life...heading west on the Massachusetts Turnpike. In some ways the song is really about my own younger days, and how it all eventually played out.

The Rising Tide
I started writing this tune well over a decade ago. It is based on an old saying that captured my imagination: " The Rising Tide Lifts All Boats". There have been many incarnations and attempts to write this song over time, each one falling short of my expectation. Then one day, out of nowhere, this version poured out of me. It was a gift, expressing everything I wanted to say, including a fresh musical setting that seemed just right for the story line. This song is dedicated to everyone in my life who inspired me to set my sights higher, reach for the stars, and chase my dreams.

Rye Harbour
This is a special place on the NH Coastline I visited frequently going back to the days of my youth. Only about a forty minute drive from where we live, it is a joy just sitting and watching all the wooden boats float out to sea with the wind in their sails. Often we would walk out on the jetty to get a better view. On a clear day we could look out and see the Isles Of Shoals, where my Scottish ancestors landed centuries ago. Seagulls would hover overhead, their song ringing in your ears, and your senses would come alive from the smell of the cool salty air. In this song I attempted to paint a picture of how I remember this most beautiful ocean setting.

"The Undertow" Album Soundbites

The Undertow - A Concept Album
I know I'm surely not the first New England Songwriter to record a concept album. Actually the thought never crossed my mind. That being said I unknowingly started building this collection of ocean theme songs nearly 25 years ago. It started by writing the song "The Undertow" which I had planned to pitch, hoping to get recorded. Next came "Massachusetts Turnpike", written about the son of a fisherman, the setting taking place in the fishing village of Gloucester MA. After that I would just add one here and there over a period of time. I drew ideas for the songs from all the places I frequented in my years along the Maine, NH, and Mass coastline. Also drew from life's experience… either my own, family or friends. Then one day, looking over my growing song catalog, I realized I had created an interesting collection of tunes that had some connection to the sea. That was back in 2006. I then started adding to the collection, writing about themes and story lines I hadn't covered yet, all of which had ocean themes. I ended up with about thirty tunes in all. I became clear to me that I needed to record a dozen or so of these songs as a concept album. My hope was that the story lines would resonate with others as well, especially folks who were familiar with the New England seacoast.

Album Planning and The Recording Process
Engineer and producer Bob Dick and I started planning to record this collection of songs back in 2011. All of the tracks were recorded at Bob's Appleland Studio in Northbridge MA.

It's taken six years in all from start to finish. Many reasons for that include the fact that we all have day jobs, careers outside of music. Bob had other recording projects in the works back then, that needed to be completed, and also was in the process of updating the recording equipment in his studio. We wisely decided not to rush, but rather wait until everything was in place. The extra time came in handy as it allowed us the luxury of coming up with fresh arrangement ideas, re-defining the instrumentation and vocal parts. There are actually 18 of us performing on The Undertow, and as we all live in different parts of New England, it took time to get everyone's parts recorded based on logistics and the performer’s schedules.
I also took advantage of the opportunity to re-work and fine tune some of the songs. In one case "The Rising Tide", the version we recorded was a total re-write, bearing no semblance to the original version. This one is much better!

CD Cover Image
The amazing CD cover image for The Undertow recording was taken by photographer Andy Cook, Rocky Mountain Reflections Colorado Springs CO. Andy travels all over the country, capturing some of our lands breathtaking natural beauty. This image is of The Nubble Lighthouse in York Maine, taken at sunrise. Ironically this is a scene mentioned in one of my songs on the album.

Places In The Songs

Nubble Lighthouse
The Nubble Lighthouse is located on the York, Maine coast. It has become a popular tourist attraction over time, as the setting and surroundings are breathtaking. The lighthouse was actually built in 1879. It was called Nubble because it was built in a tiny nub of land surrounded by water. The keepers house is two stories, and there is a covered walkway connecting the keepers house to the tower. In its early years the lighthouse once had a fog bell housed in the bell tower.
I included this particular lighthouse in one of the songs as Nubble was one of the most prominent lighthouses in our area. For well over a century it's light would guide ships at sea safely to port, through storms at sea, fog, and the dark of night.

Marginal Way
Just had to include this song on the album. Located in Ogunquit Maine, the Marginal Way is a footpath beginning in a corner of Oarweed Cove meandering along the coastline for about a mile to Perkins Cove.
The land the path is on was donated to the town in 1925 by Josiah Chase. For nearly a century people would come from all over New England, and beyond, to take in the panoramic views of the ocean along the steep rock cliffs, stopping along the way to rest and relax in one of the many benches along the route. My wife and I have a long standing tradition of waking the Marginal Way every year around the time of our anniversary.

Rye Harbour
I have been visiting this beautiful part of the NH coastline since childhood. Though not very big in size, Rye Harbour captures the essence of that classic New England ocean setting so very pleasing to the eye. The Harbour sweeps in from the sea, winding its way almost to the coastal roadway. At high tide the Harbour is filled with boats of all shapes and sizes, ready to set sail. There is a jetty adjacent to the Harbour that extends almost three hundred feet out into the ocean. When you make your way out there on the large boulders, you feel the wind in your hair, hear the waves crashing on the Rocky shore, and can smell the cool salty air. There is nothing like it!

Isles Of Shoals
The Isles Of Shoals consist of nine tiny Islands about six miles off the Maine & NH Coastline, Star Island bring the largest. On a clear day you can see several of them from the mainland. Early explorers noted that it's natural harbor and the deep waters that surround it made the Isles an ideal location for fishing. The Isles Of Shoals were permanently colonized in the early 1600s, primarily by fishermen.
Over time, the demise of the fishing industry came, followed by the advent of tourism in the region. Businessman Thomas B. Leighton acquired several of the Islands, and built a large tourist hotel he called Appledore House. The Isles Of a Shoals became a favorite summer resort for many of the most revered authors, artists and musicians of the time.

I've visited the Isles on occasion during the summers since I was in my 20s. It's very peaceful and relaxing out there, a great place to do some creative writing.

Photo Collage
With the exception of The Undertow CD cover image, my daughter Heather took all the ocean photos. We set up two photo shoots in the fall of 2017, attempting to capture all the scenes and images that weave in and out of the songs on The Undertow album. A few were used on the CD jacket behind the text, and several in the photo collage that appears under the CD Disc.

There you will see photos of :

The Nubble Lighthouse
Ship painting that belonged to my grandparents George and Mary Lang
A book "Gifts From The Sea" that my mom handed down to me
Marginal Way sign where the footpath starts
Waves crashing on the Rocky NH coast
Photo of a book "Keep The Light Burning Abbie".....the children's book Ted DeMille and I based our song on for the album.
Partial lyrics to the song "Keep The Light Burning Abby.
Rye Harbour sign at the entrance to the Seaside State Park
Boats anchored in Rye Harbour at high tide
Photo of a fisherman that appeared on placemats at Hudons Restaraunt at Hampton Beach NH (owned and operated by our Aunt Girtrude and Uncle Paul Hudon)
Isles Of Shoals Information Sign.
A photo of our footprints in the sand.

"The Undertow" Performers
The cast of performers in The Undertow includes 17 area musicians and vocalists that I have performed with, recorded with, or written with over the course of the last 30 years. It was important to me personally to record at least one project with all my long time area music buddies. All are from the New England region and have a familiarity with the ocean. That was essential, as everyone had a good understanding of where we wanted to take the songs. The album needed to have an overall ocean feel and sound authentic.

The Cast:

Bob Dick
Dave Dick
Roger Williams
Karen Lincoln Wilber
Rick Lang
Amy Gallatin
Ted DeMille
Rich Schleckser
Stephen Mougin
Lincoln Meyers
JD Williams
Mark Manuel
Ken Taylor
Dan Nowlan
Krissy Dick
Mark Davis
Fran McConville
David DiBiasio

" The Undertow"_ Album Quotes

“As a lover of roots music and the mighty ocean, I am enchanted with this new collection of songs written by my friend Rick Lang. The pictures he paints of coastal living and its characters - and their adventures on the mighty seas - will take you on an enjoyable trip to the Northern Atlantic shore. Do yourself a favor and get lost in The Undertow.”
- Jerry Salley

“I can almost smell the salt sea tang of a sunny costal New England fall day as I listen to this lovely collection of songs from a great writer and friend. Kudos to you, Rick Lang and company, for gifting us listeners with another fine album!” - Becky Buller

“Rick Lang…in my opinion, could be known as one of the best story tellers of our time, especially here on his new project The Undertow. I think
you will agree after you listen to it. Knowing Rick personally and professionally as a song writer, Christian brother, and friend… he once again proves
his God given talents through his experiences and life stories, as well as his vivid imagination. I ‘m almost certain that you will agree and find yourself
lost in these stories as you listen to this collection of songs. You place us there with your songs Rick. Way to go buddy!
This is a great project and I would not have expected anything less.”

Lord Bless Ya!
- Mike Scott

Rick Lang writes on the opening page of his website “Songwriting is my passion, my lifeblood, something I can’t live without. I write when I am inspired, emotionally charged. Mostly about people, places, events in my own life or others.”
And he has certainly done that with his project “The Undertow”. This is not the first CD that Rick has produced of his own songwriting, but this one really hits home for me, as I live on the coast of Maine. And he has captured so many of my personal feelings and experiences of living on the coast of Maine.
I feel that anyone who has spent any time on the coast of Maine will be drawn into the songs that Rick has crafted from his own life-long various experiences on the coast. From the sandy beaches of southern Maine, to the rocky coast of Downeast Maine.
All in all, this album is a wonderful mix of folk and bluegrass songs about various aspects of being out on the ocean and also spending time on the shore.
You can be sure this album will be in my CD player very often.

Darwin Davidson, Host of Bronzewound, WERU Community Radio


“Rick is one of the finest songwriters in our musical community. He always renders songs he feels and doesn’t compromise his values just to fit into some predetermined model that others might have found successful. In “The Undertow,” Rick delivers a dozen songs, many of which take the listener to thoughts of the sea. As you listen you may be transported to memories of your childhood or your current station in life as you ponder what lies ahead. Either way, you’ll appreciate Rick’s observations on life’s journeys and give you pause to thing about things from a different perspective.”

Bob Webster
Host, Bluegrass for Lunch
Rockingham County Radio; www.RCR24.com
Facebook.com/Bluegrass for Lunch


As the album title suggests, "The Undertow" posesses a natural force that can sweep you away, but there’s nothing to fear from this collection of ballads that swell with the tide of life on the New England coast. Each song is a poignant story. Each story has its own memorable score. With keen songwriting, endearing vocals and flawless musicianship, the album ticks off all the boxes of what constitutes a classic.

Rick Broussard, Editor of New Hampshire Magazine

“A heartfelt collection of Rick Lang originals about the Northeast sea coast, presented by authentic New England musicians, as only they could!”

Stephen Mougin
Dark Shadow Recording

“We have been fortunate enough to follow Rick's artistic journey through his last several projects. Rick is a master songwriter and storyteller who simply has a remarkable gift of his craft. His songs stir the soul and unlock simple truths. The way all great songwriters do. His projects are always beautifully recorded and arranged, typically, bringing in the musician's musicians to take his songs soaring to another level. On his new project, 'The Undertow', Rick has released a folk roots masterwork. It's a concept album of songs connected to the ocean & sea that are woven together like a fine tapestry. The inspiration comes from Rick's own life's experience, family ancestry, and real life stories but it's message is universal. Like when the young boy holds up the shell to his ear in the heart tugging acoustic track "Treasures in the Sand". Like the ocean, the songs can be vast and mysterious like "Keep the Lights Burning Abby" or "Shipwreck of Love" or the more intimate and familiar like the bluegrass flavored "Massachusetts Turnpike". The fun is discovering all the little threads that are interwoven throughout the entire project that can only be discovered by each repeated listen.”

Bryan Klausing
Acoustic Rainbow - Poetman Records

“Rick has created another fine music product – perhaps his best. The songs have lyrics related to the ocean or sea and those settings that allow one to ponder life and how we make choices that determine our paths. This is one enjoyable album that will entice you relax and think about life.”

Bob Webster
Host, Bluegrass for Lunch
Rockingham County Radio; www.RCR24.com
Facebook.com/Bluegrass for Lunch



to write a review

Joe Ross, Roots Music Report

Poignant story lines and evocative messages
Rick Lang is an excellent songwriter. His material has been covered by such groups as Lonesome River Band, IIIrd Tyme Out, Front Range, Paul Adkins & The Borderline Band, and Southern Rail. As a songcrafter, Lang puts a lot of thought into each song's melody, lyrics and feeling. Some of his previous projects (like "The Season of my Heart") have been thematic, and "The Undertow" offers many poignant messages connected to the ocean. To masterfully create a scenic environment for the topic of each song, Rick uses a multi-genre Americana approach that draws upon elements of roots, folk and bluegrass. Rick's music sparkles, and it always brightens the day.

I was very pleased by the way that Rick produced a concept album with such an eclectic variety of elements from various genres. A sailor's life is one of long days, adventure, toils, danger and strife. Some of Rick Lang's songs like "Widow's Walk" are ballads with poignant story lines and evocative messages. Every song on “The Undertow” builds strong analogies between shipwrecks, lights, dreams, waves and treasures to similar challenges we all face ourselves. Rick Lang’s songs are much like tidal waters that represent currents of life. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)