Love, loneliness and hope: Lynn Jackson reflects on her musical journey

The Record

Kitchener singer-songwriter Lynn Jackson is releasing her eighth full-length record, “Songs of Rain, Snow, & Remembering.” The album, recorded by Scottish ex-pat pop-genius Norman Blake, finds Jackson in familiar territory with her clear, muscular voice giving depth and conviction to tales of love, loneliness, and hope. As always, her sensitive guitar playing and crack band give her songs a sturdy ship to sail on.

On the eve of the release, the Busted Flat Records recording artist reminisced on her career thus far, the inspirations she’s following, and being something of an anomaly in a sea of boys and their guitars.

“The journey, for me, of writing songs is just finding new ways to tell the stories that reflect where you are in your life — or what the experience is of others around you or stories that you hear about. The older I get, the more and more I hear stories about people struggling. People that I don’t know and people I’ve known for years. I don’t think things get easier as you get older; things just change and pose new challenges and obstacles. It’s really about how people deal with those changes. And also how people view themselves within the mire of it all.”

Jackson’s journey is not only focused on new ways to articulate the ups and downs of the human condition. As an artist fiercely dedicated to her craft, she needs to find new ways to make her songs sing and satisfy her own muse. Though typically described as a roots or folk musician, a more discerning ear is able to pick out many other influences in her music — jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, chamber-pop ... It’s a trait Jackson is justly proud of.

“I love roots and folk music, and I’ve done a few albums in that vein, but I love all kinds of music and I like to experiment and stretch things sonically,” she explained. “Like having harmonium on this album and having a lot of piano and cello rather than your typical ‘roots’ instruments with banjo, pedal steel, dobro ... I get bored easily and I’m always very conscious that I don’t want to make the same sounding album twice.

“I think this album is a crossroads ... the slide guitar and the upright bass, with the more orchestral songs that have string arrangements. I really like the idea of blurring the edges of different genres. It really feels like a transitional album to me.”

Jackson’s female perspective in a male dominated scene is a unique one. The sheer length of her 17-year career is enough that she simply doesn’t have many peers. For her, it’s not something that has held her back, or something that she thinks should be daunting for other young female artists.

“There is no ‘girl card’ to play here,” she said. “The pressure is always on to put on a good show and win them over. That means that it doesn’t matter how tired you are or how far you’ve driven; you’ve gotta stand on the ‘X’ every night and deliver the best you are able.

“To the newer faces, I try to be encouraging, but realistic. It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of time spent honing your skill on your instrument, finding your voice, and figuring out what you want to say. Everyone has potential and everyone will have certain strengths that will shine through, and things they will have to constantly work at.”

Jackson has every reason to be pleased. She has continued to thrive by following her instincts and improving her God-given skills with pure gumption, practice, and tenacity. She has made her records the way she wants to hear them and earned a healthy audience anxious to hear what she does next. She has mapped her own journey and is consistently discovering what she seeks. She is proud of where she’s gotten, but she’s always looking forward.

“The thing that makes me feel good is when I can see people in the crowd singing the words to my songs ... people who say that my songs helped them get through difficult times. (But) just the rehearsing, doing the work and showing up, that is the accomplishment in itself.

“I don’t look back too much because I’m in the middle of it. It’s ongoing.”

Written by: Patrick Finch