It might have taken Nova Scotia’s Erin Costelo until release number four to have finally made an album she feels truly represents her, but it was well worth the wait.
It’s not that she is ashamed of or doesn’t like to talk about any of her previous releases. She simply feels her newest album, Down Below, The Status Quo, is the record where everything finally “clicked” for her.
“[Making this record] was the first time I didn’t let a timeline dictate the project,” Costelo says in advance of her free show in Riverview on Wednesday evening as a part of the town’s summer concert series.
“Timelines can be great. They force you to make decisions quickly and in my case, experiment less. I did a lot of experimentation with the songs on this record, trying different arrangements, as well as different mic techniques and recording techniques. I left no stone unturned, I guess you could say. All of the releases leading up to the making of this album helped shape who I am as an artist today. I love them all and still perform many songs from those previous recordings, but I like to think of myself as ever-growing and ever-changing. I don’t anticipate ever making the same record twice. There will always be new lessons learned and new ideas to implement along the way.”
To her credit, Costelo has become one of the region’s most definitive voices in R&B and soul over the course of the last decade, equally at home on stage alongside the likes of Mavis Staples and Dr. John as she is with fellow East Coasters Rose Cousins and Joel Plaskett.
Released in March 2016, Down Below, The Status Quo, has become her highest-profile release to date. The album was named Best R&B/Soul Recording of the Year at this past spring’s East Coast Music Awards in Saint John. The award was a sort of repeat win for the songwriter – her previous effort We Can Get Over earned Costelo the very same honour in 2014.
Having been enrolled in piano lessons at the young age of four, music has been a constant throughout Costelo’s life. And while she is arguably best-known as a singer-songwriter, Costelo shares that she had dipped her toes into the waters of string arrangements leading up to the release of her 2008 debut The Trouble and the Truth and has since pursued production opportunities, as well.
“I spent a lot of time writing horn and string arrangements for others prior to releasing my own music, and also wrote a lot of electronic music if you can believe that,” she says.
“After I started releasing albums, I began having fellow artists ask me to write arrangements for them. For instance, I arranged the horn and string parts on Amelia Curran’s most recent album [Watershed] and also did some orchestral arrangements for her Symphony N.S. show. It is those experiences that I’ve been fortunate enough to carry over to production. Right now, I am working on an album with Samm Reid and another project with Leanne Hoffman, both of whom are great N.S. artists. I have another three or four projects on my plate for the fall also. Being in a creative space is my favourite place to be, with being on stage coming in a close second.”
What: Erin Costelo
When: Wednesday Aug. 2, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Caseley Park, 30 Honour House Court, Riverview
This show is free and open to all ages. In the event of inclement weather, the show will take place at Riverview Community Hall, 145A Lakeside Dr.