Singer-songwriter Laura Rae touches on isolation, stagnation in new single, “Lightspeed” | The Coast Halifax

Singer-songwriter Laura Rae touches on isolation, stagnation in new single, “Lightspeed”

Dartmouth talent draws inspiration from pandemic experience, Taylor Swift for her new folk-pop tune

Bilingual singer-songwriter Laura Rae released her new single "Lightspeed" on May 23, 2024.
Bilingual singer-songwriter Laura Rae released her new single "Lightspeed" on May 23, 2024.

Laura Rae had a lot to balance during the pandemic lockdowns. Her father’s emphysema left her without a bubble outside of her household. Most of her family remained miles away in Ontario.

Since then, the bilingual singer-songwriter has etched her feelings on a newly released track that’s both emotionally complex and subtly technical.

Titled “Lightspeed”, Rae’s new track echoes the isolation we faced during the pandemic, bringing listeners back to those feelings of futile stagnation.

Like many of us, Rae turned to doom scrolling social media, binging Netflix, and hoping the mundane-yet-fear-riddled time would soon come to pass.

“The way you spend minutes is the way that you’re spending your life,” she said in an interview with The Coast.

The song sees an acoustic guitar plucked alongside the subtle percussion of a brush hitting an old school bell—a piece of memorabilia belonging to Rae’s husband, whose grandmother used it as a school teacher in Cape Breton. 

Rae’s synths and a stand-up bass riff courtesy of Alex Keoughan add further colour to the track.

Above this melancholic backdrop are Rae’s soft yet powerful vocals, punctuating the track with lyrics most could find relatable to their own pandemic experience.

“Rotting” was one word she used to describe her time trapped at home.

“The first lyric that came to me was, ‘Disappearing in a daydream, waking up only to go to sleep again,’” said Rae, adding the line came to her while journaling.

“We were all just kind of waiting for something to happen, like, okay, what’s next? Or like, when is this going to be over?”

She partners her pandemic-fuelled exhaustion with two odd time signatures, starting in a complex 10/8 before moving to 6/8—perhaps a rhythmic reference to the atypical normality of the lockdowns.

For her, the decision to use an uncommon time signature came as a way to challenge herself.

“I think it was on Evermore, one of Taylor Swift's albums,” said Rae. “She had this, like, weird time signature. And I was like, well, if she can do it, so can I.”

In early 2020, Rae had been working with producer and The Stanfield’s frontman Jon Landry on her first and second singles, “Didn’t Know” and “Glimpses of Ghosts”. During this process, Rae studied Landry’s work in Pro Tools and learned how to produce her own music.

“Lightspeed” was one of the first demos she recorded while learning to produce for herself. After showing it to Landry, he commented that he wished she’d brought this song to the studio while they were recording, encouraging her to do something with it.

Like many artists tend to do, the track sat on a hard drive for several years, with it only seeing the light of day during the occasional live show.

When Rae started conceptualizing her upcoming Sad Songs album, she turned to the track once more.

“When I was getting this album all together, I was like, I feel like this could be a really cool one to throw into the mix because I didn't want the album to be one specific genre,” she explains.

“I love every type of music. I want to be singing in French and in English, and I want to appeal to a large audience. I have people who are 15, 16 listening to my music, and also, like, people who are in their 70s. So, if I can appeal to that whole spectrum of listeners, all the better, right?”

With a child on the way keeping her from performing live for the time being, Rae plans to slowly drip-feed singles from her new album throughout the year until its release in late 2024.

Although she isn’t performing, she still encourages folks to reach out via her website, laurarae.ca, for use of her studio—The Guest Room—and for production work.

“Lightspeed” is available on streaming services and on Bandcamp.