"I think we were craving a change of scenery and lifestyle shift, and Pender gave that to us."
- Lauren Mann
We’ve waited a long time to hear more from Lauren Mann, and with the release of Dearestly, we can say that wait has been worth it.
So, here are the steps you need to take before hearing one note of this album:
First off, this is a longer work with 16 tracks (including the four-part Idyll, springing up every so often). This album seems to explore the ‘journey’ theme on a few different levels. First off, Dearestly offers more of Lauren’s pop side with tunes like Beautiful Place. Then, of course, there’s the physical sense of traveling.
Personally, I’ve always been a fan of Canadiana in particular, writing about Canada. In Dearestly, Lauren explores emotions while being a traveler…it’s like being privy to one of their amazing cross-country tour adventures. Dearestly is like being in their tour van - you can almost sense the raindrops on the windshield as Lauren writes the lyrics to her next song and Zoltan drives, all the time with a fuzzy AM radio station measuring their progress to the next show.
For those of you out there fortunate enough to catch Lauren touring with their friends Whitebird earlier this year, then you have heard some material from this new release (lucky you!). A perennial favourite has been Hibernate, which is neck and neck for my choice track, You are Fire. Hibernate has stuck in my head since the Brooks show, and I love the lyrics of You Are Fire. Basically, all the music on Dearestly is top notch. Some classic Lauren, some newer divergences, but it’s all gold, friends. If you buy one album this year, make it Dearestly.
We spoke with Lauren about Dearestly and how it all came about, first off, asking how difficult it was to slim down what must have been dozens of songs to the final 16.
RyKie Images & Events: It took three years to see Dearestly in its final form – how difficult was it to slim things down to 16 tracks?
Lauren Mann: We did a lot of pre-production for this album meaning that before we went into the studio to record I worked with both of my producers to go through all the songs, narrow them down, and then work on arrangements and lyrics. It's a lengthy process but we wanted all the songs to be the best they could be. Once we got immersed in the songs, we had a pretty good idea of which ones we wanted on the record, but there were a few tough decisions when we made the final track listing. I don't have any regrets about it though. Some of the songs that didn't make it might end up on a future recording, who knows!
RI&E: Pender [Island] seems to have reflected in this recording – would that be a fair statement? Aside from just having a physical space to actually spread out and build a recording nest, how did it influence the actual music?
LM: Many of the songs on Dearestly were written over the past three or four years, but a large part of this record was formed over the course of us buying a house and moving west, and that journey is definitely reflected in the album. I think we were craving a change of scenery and lifestyle shift, and Pender gave that to us. That breath of fresh air breathed a lot of life into the songs that I was writing at that time and really shaped the overall feel of the album.
RI&E: You chose to record in Chestermere, AB – why?
LM: We recorded at OCL Studios, which is a world class recording studio that's kind of hidden away in Chestermere. We had been to the studio a few times to check it out and knew that it would be a great place to hide away and work on music. One of my producers, Josh Rob Gwilliam, also works out of OCL so it made sense for us to do it out there.
RI&E: The theme of Dearestly seems to be exploring, traveling – both physical on the road adventures, but those of the heart. What’s your favorite track from this album and why?
LM: My favourite track keeps changing as I listen to the album in its finished format, but one that I'm quite proud of is Hibernate. Musically, it's a bit different than other songs I've written, with a distinct jazzy, bossanova feel. It's significant to me because it's one of those songs that reminds me of a certain place that I have visited often while travelling, and a certain time of my life.
RI&E: You’ve released this one a little different than traditional, how has response been so far?
LM: In this day and age of the music industry there's no true formulaic way of releasing an album. Anything goes, and we finally accepted that and started putting our guerrilla marketing plan into play. It's still fairly early to see how far the album has reached, but we have a number of people on board to help us get the word out.
RI&E: Will we see a supporting tour for this album anytime soon? You guys seem to like the road!
LM: We are heading out on the road this fall for a 50-date cross-Canada tour. It's been a while since we've been on the road for such a long time, but we're really excited to share Dearestly with our friends and fans across the country. We start September 18 on the west coast, and finish on November 19 in Halifax. All the dates are on my website.
So there you have it – wherever you are in this great country, Lauren Mann will be playing a venue. Her music is awesome heard through this release, but to experience one of their live shows is simply amazing. AND they are the most friendly people around. Show them some love and support Canadian music!
UPDATE: The song Brave Face will be going into rotation on CBC Radio 2 effective Monday, July 11. CBC has also added the title to their Top 20 list, and you can help it reach Number One by voting here. The band is no stranger to hitting it big on the CBC, they won the Searchlight contest back in 2014, which earned them $20,000 in musical equipment courtesy Yamaha Music and opening at the CBCMusic.ca Festival.