It's been five years since Laura Merrimen started recording her first album Love Letters for Lonely Hunters and since then, a lot has changed.
"I grew a lot since the first album and so it's kind of exciting to see where it's all going and the process," says Merrimen.
Her new album Midnight Roll, hitting Halifax on June 12, has quite a different vibe than her debut album.
While Love Letters for Lonely Hunters snagged Merrimen the 2010 Music Nova Scotia award for Country Album of the Year, Midnight Roll steps away from that country twang. A little less Americana and a lot more rock---"bluesy rock," she says. "There's still blues elements but not in a country vein at all."
Even though the country-feel of that first album was a success, Merrimen says she likes to change things up.
"I'm always changing. You know, just with different moods I'll write different songs."
Merrimen says she had a set of better songs that were bluesy numbers rather than country tunes, so she ran with them. "I don't think that will hurt anything," Merrimen says.
With a completely different band working with her on this album, including Brian Murray on drums, Tom MacGillivray on bass and Ryan Stanley on guitar, you can't expect the same sound. It's a little more sophisticated this time around.
"It works really well with this lineup," says Merrimen. "They're great. They're really phenomenal players."
She's also got a number of guest players on the album, including bassist Mike Farrington.
"I think it's just that everybody's in the same headspace and we all just want to make really good music and make art." She says even their approaches to playing music and their musical tastes have expanded since her first album.
Merrimen co-produced the new 12-track album with Murray, which includes a cover of Al Tuck's song "As Soon As We Kiss," as well as a track ("Bang Bang") that she engineered herself and played every instrument save drums and bass. She also did all the artwork and design for the album. Whew.
As a youngster, this south shore gal jumped on the music train. "I did sing and write poetry, and taught myself to play guitar and piano when I was younger," Merrimen says. And with classic rock influences like Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Van Morrison and Rickie Lee Jones to name a few, her musical prowess comes as no surprise.
At 19, she started playing open mics and later started a band, thanks to a little peer pressure. "It was a lot of really good people that I got involved with that were just really supportive," says Merrimen. "That was 10 years ago."
Now she's looking to the future. "I hope the album does really well. And I love to be on the road so hopefully a lot more touring. I'd like to get over to Europe and break into that scene. Get over to the States. I'm up for anything," Merrimen says.
"Everything takes its process and there are sometimes that I think, 'Oh my goodness, it's been a long time. Am I really progressing at all?' But definitely now I see how much [progress I've made]." --
Laura Merrimen w/Dave Marsh and The True Love Rules, Tuesday, June 12 at The Carleton, 1685 Argyle Street, 9pm, $12.50
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