One listen to Jenn Grant’s new album and you’re either sporting a smile or dancing on the spot, or both. That’s because the past two years of the Halifax songstress’ life have been good. And that’s probably an understatement.
Grant, one of Nova Scotia’s most revered young songwriters, released her third, most upbeat and optimistic effort “Honeymoon Punch” in January.
The album was written and recorded as she was settling down with her beau, In-Flight Safety keyboardist-guitarist (and “Honeymoon” producer) Daniel Ledwell.
A far cry from Grant’s previous album “Echoes,” a sombre and atmospheric collection of songs that reflected an unsettling period of her life, “Honeymoon Punch” is a complete turn-about both lyrically and stylistically.
Gone is the organic, subdued interplay of guitar and violin that dominated the 2009 effort and ushered in are keyboards, synthesizers, horns and an obvious boost in her confidence.
“We were making our new house our own and just spending a lot of time sort of nesting and falling in love and doing grown-up things,” Grant recounts of the year she and Ledwell spent renovating their new abode. “I was just feeling really comfortable and secure and wanting to take some risks musically and feeling really strong.”
The album, she insists, was not a conscientious effort to do something completely different but more the natural outcome of her creative march. That the songs are in a more experimental pop-rock vein and require a five- or six-piece band to take on the road is only a bonus.
“I’m a really subconscious writer. I don’t really think about it at all — I just let it happen and whatever happens happens,” she says.
“Records for me are kind of little time capsules of a certain period of time because … that’s when those words and songs were coming out of me. But it’s not super direct all the time, ’cause I don’t want to feel limited, like that I can’t write something really weird and disturbing for the next record and then everyone’s gonna think there’s something wrong with me,” she says, pausing. “I don’t really care anyway what people think anymore,” she says, and laughs.
“I’m a really subconscious writer. I don’t really think about it at all — I just let it happen and whatever happens happens.” Jenn Grant
In addition to producing the record, Ledwell co-wrote and sings on “Baby’s Been Away.”
“It started as a song that we wrote when we were camping in Ontario,” Grant explains. “We took crayons, a guitar and a box of wine and just … sat at a picnic table and wrote a song.”
“Getcha Good,” Grant’s choice for first single, is the catchiest of the bunch.
The video, directed by Halifax filmmaker Andrew Stretch, features a handful of Grant’s friends dancing in the street to a choreographed routine.
“I was just going to make a video by myself with my little camera,” she says, “but I asked Andrew and (he was) totally on board.”
Just last week, however, Grant did post a self-produced video on her website for “Paradise Mountain,” a song partially inspired by the Disney-Pixar animated film “Up.”
Closing track “Stars to Waves,” a “daydream” song and one of “Honeymoon’s” more solemn moments, will be welcomed by fans of Grant’s previous material.
Just when the song seems to end a steady and forceful drumbeat begins and an improvised three-minute jam ensues, accompanied by the (mostly undecipherable) voice and words of Isabel MacLellan, five-year-old daughter of songwriters Catherine MacLellan and Al Tuck.
“Isabel, when she talks you can only hear some of the stuff that she says, but she kind of captures the magic of the record for me in her little voice at the end.”
Jenn Grant and her band perform at The Rock House in St. John’s on May 20. Tickets are $15 and available at Fred’s Music, The Ship Pub, and O’Brien’s Music. If you want to give the recording a preview listen, promoter Mightypop is streaming it leading up to the show on their website, www.mightypop.ca.