Magnolia's Rich Engle has just finished the longest race of his life, a trek that's taken 11 years to complete.
Drenched in a pool of sweat, and with legs that've turned to jelly, the 37-year-old Engle appears on the other side of the finish line and he's holding the coveted trophy: a copy of his new debut album, "Redemption."
The project was released earlier this month and is available as a digital download and hard copy (to purchase a hard copy, you'll have to email a request to Engle via his website).
"Redemption" is a reflection on Engle's life over the last decade as told through 10 tracks. The music is acoustic rock that stirs in a little country in a pot belonging to the Allman Brothers. The album ─ recorded downtown at Chris Kirby and Kevin Nemith's Digital Street Studio ─ features local musicians, including Joey Fulkerson, frontman of Nothin' But Trouble, Nemith and multi-instrumentalist Toney Robinson.
Engle spoke with the Dover Post about why it took years to finish "Redemption," what his experience was like recording his first solo record, and more.
Q How would you describe "Redemption?"
A It's almost like this reflection of yourself. When you're in your 20s, there are a lot of things you worry about – about yourself and about the superficial things that affect your relationship with others. But as you get a little older, you take stock of what's more important to you, and you kind of let go of some of those things.
Q Does that theme sum up your song "Disappear?"
A If you listen to that song, it sounds like a failed relationship. But at the root of it, it's about looking back at a time period in my life and saying goodbye to it. During my mid-20s I lived in South Carolina and had to move to Delaware. In life, you create different friendships. Some are healthy and some are unhealthy, and this is about leaving behind some unhealthy relationships. It's a very vulnerable song.
Q You began writing this album 11 years ago. Why did it take so long?
A I've been playing covers for years, but I've never been into to pushing my original music on people. [For years] I would just write these songs in my room. But when I played them at shows, people wouldn't know if it was a cover or not because I mixed it in. But that gave me confidence.
Page 2 of 2 - Q What was the process and experience like recording this solo project at Digital Street?
A I'd sing a song and play it for [Nemith and Kirby] and they would help me fine-tune and finish it. I'd also record a scratch track and then [the guest musicians] would add their bits and pieces to it. This has been a community album. I laugh at the idea that this is a solo project because all I did was record the songs and do my musical parts. I had amazing contributions from friends and local musicians in this area that helped me finish it.
Q You've been playing in the Dover area for years. How would you describe the local scene these days?
A There's an enormous amount of talent in Dover. But people, for whatever reason, don't seem to think there is. I think it's a challenge for bar owners to cater to original music because the customer doesn't seek that out around here. People seek out cover songs and dance music. They just wanted to be entertained. [They] don't want to think about your deep original song. But if you go to the south, like South Carolina, people want to hear original music.
Q As a musician, how do you overcome this obstacle?
A You hope that people listen to the CD and decide they like it and respect it musically. It all kind of stems from the music.
Q Now that you've recorded your first solo record, what's your next goal?
A I want to keep recording original music. I want to be seen as a songwriter and not just a cover artist. The ultimate goal for me as a musician is to write songs and perform them and have them hold their own with the covers I play.