This album was birthed from nearly four years of work, while I was also birthing and raising a child, learning how to co-parent, building the business that has allowed me to fund my music and child, and founding a non-profit. Recording this album has been the most important learning experience thus far in my adulthood. Through this process, I have found my voice in a way that is unmistakable to me and scarcely confusing. I've learned to trust myself more than I could have imagined, and I honed my ability to set boundaries and speak clearly and unapologetically about my vision.
In 2015, when things were at peak unclarity, confusion, fog, I had already recorded a few of the songs on my album with two different constellations of musicians that had banded and disbanded, and a voice inside me said "starting with these tracks, record the solo album that you know you want to record, and everything will shake out. Don't wait for anybody. You lead."
Since I launched my solo album vision into motion, everything has been more clear. This creative work has anchored me through some very difficult times, and it's my greatest honor to offer this collection of music to the world. It has taken all my strength, all my money, and an unimaginable outpouring of support from my loved ones,
Notes about songwriting:
Many of my songs on this album are autobiographical snapshots of distinct emotional and personal growth points during my mid-twenties. Over time, as I record and continue to perform these songs, the emotional content becomes less charged and I take on the role of a storyteller, rather than that of an emotional actor. People often ask about what it’s like to perform my earlier songs, from a time where my healing from pain and trauma felt like a full-time job, and my answer is that it is truly a joy because I no longer try to put myself in my 23-year-old shoes and evoke the emotion and pain I was feeling then. There was a time when I thought that in order to be an authentic performer, I had to re-inhabit those highly charged memories. That turned out to be re-traumatizing and unnecessary. The beautiful thing about documenting emotional and interpersonal experiences in song is that the songs themselves do the work. The melody, lyrics, arrangements carry the listener to whatever part of my original experience speaks to them. I get to perform these songs as an offering for anyone going through what I was going through when I wrote the song, and anyone who loves someone who is going through something similar.
That being said, a few songs on this album have held true for me ever since I wrote them. Songs that still bring tears to my own eyes when I hear or sing them. Songs like This Thunder, Modern Mythology, and The Whole Buffalo capture a continuous state of growth and being, that I will probably be planted in for decades - a chronicle of lessons that I get to learn over and over and over again.
This track is a timeless one for me. I wrote it when I was twenty three, and it gets me, unfailingly, every time. It’s about what keeps me going, even when, despite my best efforts, I am unwell and unwilling, unable to believe in a power and strength greater than adversity. Even when my expectations of self crumble and I am unable to perfect my way out from under strong feelings, there is a force within me and beyond me that calls me to write and sing and live.
Wearing My Heart
On the surface this is a song about independence and liberation from the expectations of others, and I do want to celebrate that moment for myself: the differentiation between myself and my first husband, who abused me; the cocoon of protection I tried to build around myself while I was healing, development of my radar for men who only wanted to pity and save me. But this song also carries the pain of mistrust of myself and others, and echoes of doubt that it is possible for people to love each other without causing more harm than good. So, I will let this song stand as a liberation anthem, liberation being the very tiny first step toward healing.
What if I Don’t
Sassy and brutal, this song is about long distance love-gone-wrong. But it’s not about just any kind of long distance - this was military long distance, meaning six phone calls in seven months over tormenting broken internet connections. I fell in love with and quickly married a navy man right before he was deployed, shortly after my first marriage ended. I was twenty-four. I did not have the skills or solid ground from which to weather the trials of this relationship. This song is about the numbness and emptiness that took the place of loving connection.
We recorded the rhythm section for this one live in the studio with Graham Patzner on guitar, Dan Wright on Bass, and Nino Moschella on drums. We had been playing a more straight-ahead country style, when Graham suggested that we try the verses in half-time. We captured the magic and novelty of this style in one take, and then added in the organ, piano, and horns on top of this gritty, gnarly groove.
This song breaks my heart. It's about the cycle of abuse, becoming hardened with contempt for weakness, for the weakness I thought got me into a dangerous