Joanne Stacey sees herself in the September of her life. She’s getting older, a little past her prime, she has a grandson and her parents are aging.
“Now I’m into September where I have wisdom and I can see there’s such a beauty in so many things around me that you don’t see until you’re this age where I’m at now,” the Revelstoke-based singer-songwriter told me. “It’s a time of reflection and acceptance of who you are. I think a lot of women in their 50s relate to it.”
Stacey’s new album, My September, reflects where she is in life. Released last Friday, it’s a collection of 10 songs that were mostly written on a trip to Nashville in the spring and recorded in Kelowna in the early summer.
The songs are a slice of traditional country and Americana, with Stacey on lead vocals and joined by a team of seasoned musicians from around B.C. Her former Sister Girl bandmates, Janine Carey-Bourke and Sharlene Foisy join in on backup vocals on a few songs.
“They wanted to be part of it and I’m really happy about that,” she said.
The album was produced by Barry Mathers, formerly of the alt-country band The Cruzeros, at Redhouse Studio in Kelowna.
“I felt like he would be the right producer for this album because of his experience in the Americana genre,” Stacey said.
Stacey received a $10,000 grant from the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance to help fund the recording.
The album is her fourth solo effort, to go along with two albums she recorded with Sister Girl. She took a different approach while writing this album — instead of compiling a group of songs she already had and recording them, she made a trip Nashville with the intent of writing songs specifically for the album. The result is songs like Let Love Do Ya, a collaboration with the hit songwriter Dan Demay, and Scent of a Good Man, which she wrote along with her friend Lucy Leblanc and the songwriting couple of Heidi and Roddy Love.
Another song, I Can’t Breathe, came to her while she was on the way home from a friend’s place in Nashville. She had just been reflecting on a number of deaths that were affecting her and her friends, when the song came to her.
“I wrote that song in about 20 minutes,” Stacey said. “It just poured out of me. It was all these people’s grief that I’d been around the past few days. It came right through me.”
Leblanc, who she was living with in Nashville, told her she looked possessed while writing it.
Not all the songs were written in Music City. That’s What Patsy Would Do, an upbeat tune that starts the album, came out of a collaboration with her friend Jane Eamon in Kelowna. They wrote the song together one day, then dusted it off months later to get it ready for recording.
The Man is the oldest song on the album. Stacey wrote in 10 years ago about her grandfather, and held onto it until now.
“I always wanted to put it on an album where it would fit,” she said. “I’m so pleased with the outcome because it’s a tribute to my grandfather.”
The album closes with the title track My September, which features Stacey alone on vocals, with no musical accompaniment. It is a chance for her to really showcase her singing and she shines.
Stacey sees the album as a snapshot of her life at this point in time and a mark of how she’s evolved as a songwriter over the years.
“I’ve written lots of songs that are really great, well crafted, poppy, marketable songs for country radio. I’ve written those songs, but I don’t connect with them as much. They might be a hit song, but for someone else, not for me,” she said. “For a song to be something I want to share with people or be proud of, there has to be some truth in it for me as an artist to want to record it.”
My September is available online through Joanne Stacey’s website, or in stores at Pharmasave, Sangha Bean and Beyond Gifts. It costs $10 online, or $20 for the CD. A record release show will be held at the Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre on Friday, Dec. 5. Tickets are available in advance at Beyond Gifts for $10.