It’s with great thanks to the Arts Fund of Waterloo Region, as well as the many friends and fellow musicians that worked on this album with me, that I released a new music baby this week!
I received the grant to record this project in the weeks following the Trump election, when like so many people, I was walking around in an anxious haze of moral distress and hopelessness. Recording an album seemed futile to even think about. But I got to work, determined to write something that would have some relevance to the world around us, while also being rooted in my own experience – as an overall privileged Canadian-American who’s never really quite identified as an activist.
“I’d Rather Be Your Friend” is about trying to find common ground within difficult relationships in an increasingly polarized world. The album is bookended by reflections on the Trump presidency and the new era it has heralded, and tackles such gentle topics as climate change, sexual assault, and peaceful protest in between. The opening track, “Breeze Blows,” is about the moment when I learned that Leonard Cohen had died, the very same week as the US election. “Rainfall in December” is about one Christmas, two years ago, when the uncannily warm weather and unseasonal rain somehow made climate change terrifyingly real for me. “Dear Mister Ghomeshi” is a complicated, confused conversation between an abuse survivor and a man she once trusted. “January 20th 2017,” the day Trump was inaugurated, is an inward plea to stay rooted in love during a time of deep divide.
None of this was easy to write, but I had help. Evan Pointner and I jammed out the songs months before I started recording, discussed production approaches at length, and he was there in the mixing room to offer his expert ears and assist with production (he also plays on “Ariel”). Rob Shiels workshopped tunes and lyrics with me via Skype, and lay down acoustic guitar tracks from his studio in Dublin. Ryan Coulter played fiddle and sang some sweet backup harmonies. Ryan Dugal lay down bass. Chris Colvin was the masterful engineer and generously played drums on a few tracks, and his recording space, Studio A, is a gem for local musicians. It was a treat to reconnect with Scott Rouse and have his infamously brilliant drumming on Track #3, engineered by Jeff Johnston all the way out in San Francisco. Gerima Harvey killed it on the djembe. Stephanie Rozek offered an extra set of ears during mixing sessions. Russell Jennison mastered the whole thing. Aldo Riello was thoughtfully musing on artwork the whole time, and his results are beautiful.
I’ll be performing these songs and other tunes, on January 19th in Waterloo, at an intimate house show venue with a small acoustic band. JoJo Worthington will also be performing a set and it should be an amazing night! You can message me for details.
Please support the arts by listening and sharing!! You can download for PWYC, stream online, and purchase physical copies. Looking to shop locally for Christmas? I’m happy to sell you some albums!
It’s been the loveliest feeling to be able to record this project – to hire my friends, to learn new skills, to hone a message and cultivate my sound. I’m truly grateful for the Waterloo Arts Fund and for the community of musicians I keep learning from.