With every dark cloud comes a bit of a silver lining. At least, we can hope that is the case for Halifax pop musician Jenn Grant.
Her latest record, last September’s The Beautiful Wild, has arguably been her most successful record to date. It was her first U.S.-released album and, after previously receiving 14 East Coast Music Award nominations, she walked away with the ECMA for Pop Recording of the Year earlier this year.
Compared to her 2011 release, the Juno-nominated and Polaris Prize long-listed Honeymoon Punch, The Beautiful Wild served as a bit of a musical departure for Grant.
The solemnity heard on The Beautiful Wild is no accident, however. Not long after the record was completed, Grant suffered the immeasurable loss of her mother, one of Jenn’s biggest fans and supporters. Although the record was written and recorded prior to her mother’s passing, the sadness that permeates the record is more than understandable.
Her mother’s spirit lives on, not only in her family’s memory but also thanks to Jenn’s video for her song “The Fighter.” The video, featuring footage of Jenn’s mother being crowned the Queen of Azaleas in Norfolk, Va., in 1973 was discovered after her mother’s passing last year.
“My brother and I ended up finding just a couple of rolls of this footage of my mother that somehow hadn’t been opened. Once I saw the footage, I realized that it fit the song perfectly,” Jenn says. “The record is so connected to her that the footage of her intertwines with the song really nicely.”
Jenn is getting set to undertake a run of approximately 32 shows that will take her right across Canada and keep her busy for the next month and a half. She is looking forward to the opportunity to road-test some of the new material that she has been working on, saying it’s a luxury of sorts to be able to do so.
“I have never spent this much time writing before and don’t often have the opportunity to play material before I record it. It is going to be great to put these songs out to the world and see what the audience responds to.”
Jenn says that her new material is very rhythm driven and boasts a kind of Spanish folk influence. Despite seeing a shift in the direction that her music is taking, she says that she feels as though her new songs represent the continued evolution of her career.
“I spent some time in Spain and have been listening to a lot of Spanish music and so it was only natural that those influences would find their way into my songs. I don’t know if calling the new songs upbeat is definitely the right word but the rhythm and groove are definitely present in these songs. Some of the songs lie on the folkier side of music made in the ’70s. There is really no pop-rock elements contained in any of these songs,” she says.
‘It actually feels like a continuation of where The Beautiful Wild left off. I feel as though I have been pushing myself a little harder in the process of writing these songs.”
Now four releases into her career, Jenn says that pushing herself has ultimately manifested itself in areas outside of the recording studio as well. Having recently decided to re-evaluate many of her business relationships, Jenn says that she is looking to inject new energy into her career and as such, has decided to begin working independently.
“I ended up parting ways with everyone except my band, basically. I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with some amazing people over the past number of years but I decided I needed to take the time to look at where I am at with my career and shake things up. It can be a little scary to settle into a routine and when I stepped back and realized that, I wanted to forge ahead in new directions. I wanted to inject some new energy into my career however it has to be my energy. I feel it is going to be a positive move for me at the end of the day. You can’t always stay in your comfort zone.”
What: Jenn Grant, with special guest Jim Bryson
When: Sunday, Sept. 8, 9 p.m.
Where: Tide & Boar Gastropub, 700 Main Street, Moncton