Do you believe in magic? On Friday at Gus' Pub, Gianna Lauren releases On Personhood, her enchanting new six-track album. Recorded at The House of Miracles, a converted 1860s horse stable in Cambridge, Ontario, Lauren says the experience was charmed. The CKDU staffer can't wait to show off her new studio band, Justin Nace, JJ Ipsen and Marshall Bureau.
"The studio is literally a house of miracles," says Lauren from her parents' home in Ottawa, just before "cigar time" and a Kingston show. Released by Forward Music Group, the perfect rhythms came together for On Personhood. From the folk ballads on Some Move Closer, Some Move On, produced by Daniel Ledwell in 2010, On Personhood marks a change in practice.
"I really wanted to do something different this time around," she says. "And I've always wanted to do a live-band recording." So Lauren approached her musical nearest and dearests from home: "I was really specific about the folks I recruited because I had a particular sound in mind," powerful and rich rock melodies that embrace her maturing lyricism. "I'm really proud that this album is a departure from more personal material I've written in the past. It's more objective."
It's also the product of intimate, intense collaboration. Lauren recorded the album retreat-style, gathering her studio band together for five days last June with engineer Andy Magoffin (The Constantines, Feist) at his House of Miracles. The rest was magic.
"It was the right group of people and the right amount of time," Lauren says. "It was talented folks with the knowledge of when to jump in and when to sit back, good communication, good at reading one another, using instincts. If you put the right combination of people with those skills and that approach in the same room, you're just gonna get lucky."
Last week, before leaving on tour, Mitch Fillion from Southern Souls filmed the band performing "Anchor Down," the album's single, live at the studio (see review page 12). "It's magic when you walk in there. You feel like you're in a stone bunker and yet it's set up so cozy. There's just something so unique about the way the room sounds," Lauren describes. "I've really admired Andy for a long time. He has an ear that is so distinct. As a result, we couldn't believe what we accomplished in such a short period of time without really rehearsing."
But when recording wrapped up and a release date was set, Lauren wasn't sure if the band---made up of busy sound techs and professionals in Toronto---could tour with her to promote the album. "I was really grateful for their time and efforts but I had no expectations they would be my regular band. But then they said they wanted to be! The response has been mind-blowing."
Playing with The Highest Order in Halifax and at The Old Confidence Lodge in Riverport on Saturday before a final show in Sackville, NB, Lauren isn't exactly sure what's to come. "I'm hoping these guys will want to stay with me in Halifax and we'll start a new life together," she says, laughing. "I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to offer this again so I cannot wait to play a loud tavern show at Gus'. So far, people have been very generous. It makes me feel like we're really onto something and it would stink to lose momentum, but I'm just going to enjoy this."
w/The Highest Order, Willie Stratton
Friday, April 12, 10pm, $7
Gus’ Pub, 2605 Agricola Street