Jenn Grant's back with the positive pop album you need to hear | Music | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST
Jenn Grant's newest album is out today on all streaming platforms.

Jenn Grant's back with the positive pop album you need to hear

"I'm all about empowering women and artists," the singer-songwriter says.

When The Coast calls Jenn Grant on a sunny Friday morning in May, about a month out from her new album Champagne Problems’s June 21 release, the kinetic energy is palpable. “How long do you want to speak for?” the singer-songwriter asks, ambient car noise almost drowning her out. We agree on a tight half-hour, which soon unspools to 45 minutes as the scope of Grant’s latest project unfolds in conversation; meanwhile, the background noise shifts from highway sounds to those of the studio on her Lake Echo property, as she leaves groceries on the porch for her husband and creative partner Daniel Ledwell to put away before band practice begins (and our call wraps).

Even considering the tight schedule, Grant speaks faster than a character Amy Sherman-Palladino would write: Rapid-fire thoughts on balancing motherhood and art (she has two small children and enjoyed a change-of-pace in child-rearing during COVID) and women in producing (she produced a chunk of tracks on Champagne Problems, her first time in that role). When told that, currently, only five percent of producers are women (according to numbers that caused the National Arts Centre to launch an equity program in 2021) she’s immediate: “Maybe I should start producing more.”

It turns out Grant’s producer’s credits on Champagne Problems serve as almost the perfect metaphor for the album itself: Faced with the isolation that COVID brought, Grant orchestrated a cross-country collaboration of a record, one that sees her skipping across genres with guests like Basia Bulat, Tim Baker, Bahamas, Dan Mangan and more.

“I think that there was a shift that happened with me during the pandemic—and also after having kids—where I really re-fell in love with where I'm from, and I wanted to make an album that encapsulated that feeling for me. In my head, it kind of felt like a quilt or something: Like if I was going to create a quilt made up of songs of the country, for me, what would that represent?” Grant says, adding that many artists being at home and available was “kind of making the best of something.” (Here, a trend of the pandemic becomes clear: Aquakultre’s Lance Sampson features on a track of Champagne Problems, and also spawned one of 2022’s best records with his own highly-collaborative, guest-packed offering, Don’t Trip.) “The thing that I wanted to do was to create new connections, I guess. Stronger connections. And yeah, it grounded me in just sort of being like, ‘this is a place that I love and I want to just make something that represents that’,” Grant adds.

Nine albums deep, Grant’s sense of a strong melody is as water-tight as her sense of connection: It’s easy to argue her career (which includes multiple Juno nominations and East Coast Music Association wins) has been built on a bedrock of both. The new album, she insists, is more than just having someone along to sing a supporting verse: Almost all the songs are co-written.

“I think at one point, I really shied away from co-writing. I thought it was just like this kind of embarrassing thing, where you had to reveal yourself and sit in a room with your guitar and come up with something. It seemed kind of embarrassing to me, because it was like: How do you reveal yourself like that with someone? Because when I write songs, I try to come from a really imaginative place—and I didn't know how to do that with someone else,” Grant says. “But then I started dabbling in it, and then this project is all about that. And I found that the revealing and the embarrassing moments are what really gets right where the creative juices are— and it's just such fun and just a really such a bonding experience and a really great way to get to know someone. And you get such a great end result of your hang because you get this song that maybe will mean something to people.”

When told that the project has shades of Grant’s 2014 album Compostela to it, she agrees, calling the albums “cousins” before adding: “It feels like it’s grown up…I’m into being empowered and making great stuff. I'm going to continue getting older and I'm going to continue making better records.”

“It's like do you drop off the planet when you're in your 40s when you're a woman? There needs to be a shift in the industry for sure,” she says. When asked what it feels like to be on the edge of what in film is known as the desert years (too old to play a girlfriend, too young to play a grandma), Grant says the music equivalent is being billed a “legacy artist”. She adds: “I don’t have time to think about what guys [in the industry] are thinking. And in general, I just don’t buy into all that stuff. I'm into empowerment of women right now. And of artists just, like, making it work.”

About The Author

Morgan Mullin

Morgan was the Arts & Entertainment Editor at The Coast, where she wrote about everything from what to see and do around Halifax to profiles of the city’s creative class to larger cultural pieces. She started with The Coast in 2016.
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