by Ryan Ayukawa
With a 7th album near completion, Lynn Jackson shows no signs of slowing down. As she continues to tour Canada with her soulful roots-Americana music, it’s her “strong, memorable melodies” (and draw-the-listener-in storytelling) are part of what has helped her connect with audiences across Canada.
The 7th album is “The Acoustic Sessions” a retrospective of sorts of albums 1-6, and almost near pressing. She is currently on the Canadian indie label Busted Flat Records.
On Saturday June 21, Jackson will be playing her third NXNE showcase at the Cameron House (back room). She managed to schedule in a pre-NXNE interview with Examiner.com.
I thought we’d talk about the albums first. 7 is certainly a solid number to produce. How have they all compared from the starting ideas to completion?
My first album has 16 songs on it.
Like elvis costello says,
‘you have 20 years to make your first album, then 6 months to make your next one’
The first album, Night Songs from 2004, is mainly folk-pop. The 2nd album, Sweet Relief is more Americana-folk, with lots of dobro, upright bass, violin etc - the production was more roots-Americana Sweet Relief was released 2005.
The next album, 2007’s Restless Days followed a similar roots-folk-Americana path. Then in 2008, I wanted to change up the sound - so i tried as much as possible to have my piano player friend Arun Pal play my acoustic guitar parts on piano instead of a traditional bass, I relied more on cello . . . though there is a bit of upright bass on 2008’s Soft Stars album.
Then in 2010, the album Coming Down - I again wanted to change the sound - so I took myself completely out of any ‘production’ type role and gave it to my guitarist and frequent collaborator, Chris Boyne (he fronts his own band Sexdwarf) the results were more pop-rock.
With the last album, 2012’s Down in the Dust - I decided to go full-on back to my roots-folk sound - lots of pedal steel, banjo, upright bass etc . . though there are a few surprises with a rock number and a more jazzy song
The newest album, The Acoustic Sessions, is a stripped down ‘retrospective’ album - that is complete but I haven’t had it pressed yet - that will happen in the next month - it’s a sort of selection of songs from the past 6 albums - a sort of ‘best of’
With all the material, how do you pick your sets for shows? And for NXNE?
I tailor my sets for each show I do - this weekend i’m playing 4 shows in 3 days. I take into consideration whether it’s a solo, duo or full band show and I consider the event and the audience etc. The NXNE showcase set will have selected songs from my previous albums, as well as a brand new song - for a new full-band album I’m working on.
I imagine we will be playing for people who’ve never heard us before, so that’s why i like to showcase some of my back catalogue. The set will actually be fairly up tempo and rocking to draw folks in and try to get their attention over a 40 min set.
As far as other showcases go, how have they prepared you for NXNE?
Hmm . . . i’m not sure that really applies - this will be my third time playing NXNE - I play a lot of shows, solo or with my band - and I tour Canada regularly - I would say travelling across country helps strengthen your ‘stage legs’ - playing different rooms, for different audiences - O think it’s a really good experience for musicians to have in terms of growth as a performer - and as a songwriter - to see how different audiences respond to different material.
I mostly play full band shows in Ontario - usually fairly local - everyone has other responsibilities - where they need to be closer to home and besides, taking a band on tour is very expensive as well - that’s why I opt for touring solo
Any tips for other artists playing NXNE for the first time?
Put together a set of what you think are your best songs - songs that will get attention - strong melodies, good lyrics that tell a story . . . . just get up there and give it everything you got
I had talked to Veda Hille about her lengthy list of credits. When you reach album 8, how will you sustain the creativity?
Actually - it comes fairly naturally. I let the songs come when the want to. I don’t force them out - I will go months with nothing. And then I usually find I end up writing about 6 songs over a 2 or 3 month period. I don’t worry about when or how they come. I also listen to a wide variety of stuff - that influences me, subconsciously I guess
my faves are: Lucinda Williams, Elvis Costello, Ani Difranco, Tom Waits, Eliza Gilkyson, Feist, Pretenders, PJ Harvey, Jenny Lewis, Cat Power, Jesus and Mary Chain and anything from ‘90s grunge - rock era the new band record, which we hopefully will start recording in august - actually will move away from the roots-folk I’ve been doing so far. I’ll be playing ‘electric’ for the first time on an album - and the songs are more noir, darker rock sound - less focus on pretty ballad type pieces and more focus on growly rock we’ll be playing one new song, Waves, at NXNE
And finally: what quality would you say your music has that would draw new audiences?
I’d like to think strong, memorable melodies. And I like to write about common, every day situations, so hopefully people can relate to the lyrics or the story’s that are part of my songs . . . I think most people want understanding and want to be understood - want to feel a connection - especially with the artists they listen to - so I try to take my own experiences and reach them with that.