Intimate and otherworldly are two words that come to mind when listening to Jenn Grant’s new album Paradise.
It’s the follow up to her 2014 Juno-nominated album Compostela, which was written after the loss of her mother. Where that record was about her personal experience of loss, on Paradise Grant has taken the point of view of an outside observer on her songs, writing more about the people around her.
She feels like she is only truly finding her voice now after over a decade of writing and performing.
“I’ve been making albums for 10 years. Your voice changes, and you change,” she says over the phone from her home outside Halifax. “You grow up and your voice grows up with you. When I hear old recordings I don’t recognize myself in it, really. I think with Compostela I feel like that’s me but I feel more present in my own voice now. I’m more in the moment. It means more now.”
She says she was inspired to write many of the songs on Paradise after waking up from lifelike dreams.
“I take a lot of inspiration from my dreams,” she says. “So a lot of songs from this record came from when I was asleep. I have so many vivid dreams that I feel like they’re half of my life.”
The album tackles themes of exploring spiritual connections with nature, the innate power of women, and the human desire to search for the unknown. It is intimate in sound, vast in lyrical scope, and her most subtly beautiful work to date. You can listen to an advance stream of Paradise right here for a week before it officially comes out. While you’re listening, take a look at her track-by-track guide to the album below.
“I pictured someone gardening, which could be me or an older woman, and it’s about these struggles in relationships that everyone has. It’s about this woman planting seeds into the earth. She wants the seeds to be her wishes and dreams for her and her family. It’s about the beauty and struggle of that.”
“I pictured a group of people. They may be the last remaining humans on Earth, and they are looking to the stars for answers. They are trying to find a home, because maybe Earth is not their home anymore. They’re together with their arms outstretched to the sky and they’re being called home to somewhere.”
‘In my Dreams’
“This one is about how some people have really vivid dreams. I am like that. It’s about when you sometimes feel like you live in a different world than other people for some of the time, and it’s hard to share that with even the person that you’re closest to. ... There’s no one in the world who will ever see [the dreams] the way that I see them. I think it’s about that, about living in a secret world.”
‘Lion With Me’
“This is a love song that I wrote for my husband. In the song I talk about shovelling, because we live at the bottom of this hill, and we shovel so much. I think it’s a bit of a metaphor for anything that is a struggle in your life and trying to get through it. It’s a song about love but it’s got pieces of our life in it.”
‘I'm a River’
“For me, this song is a power song for women. It’s about the strength of being a woman and the responsibility of being a strong woman. ... It’s also [about] the connection between women and nature, which I feel is really strong. I feel connected to eagles in particular, so they come up in my songwriting.”
“This song is about when you’re drawn to a darkness in someone. I’ve always had tendencies like that, to be drawn to a bit of a darkness. Luckily in the end I married a beautiful man who is not a dark force [laughs]. I think as a creative person or as an artist you can get lost in that feeling of melancholy or that misery can be appealing because you get something out of it. Like, if I feel miserable I’ll probably write a song. I don’t live in that world, I only visit it from time to time, as needed [laughs].”
“Maybe when you were a kid you read the book Where the Red Ferns Grow? I did. It’s about these dogs and this little boy. It was kicking around the house and I was reading it for a couple days. I stayed up to finish the book, and Danny [Grant’s husband] woke up and I was bawling. I couldn’t breathe, I was crying so much at the end of the book. I really love animals and I especially love dogs so much. I feel like, when you look into their eyes, their emotions are the same as people's. It’s about that sense, that hurting feeling, of a dog or of a person. It could be either, but it came from the dogs in this book [laughs]. I don’t know if I should tell people that I wrote this song because of this children’s book that I could not handle, but that’s really what it is, so why not, who cares.”
“The night after David Bowie died, I had this dream about him. It was this amazing, special dream that I remember vividly. In the dream we were in outer space and everything was black but there were beautiful prisms in the sky, and a couple of planets. There was a golden road from one prism to another in the sky. David Bowie appeared and was wearing this golden tie and was getting all dressed up to say his final farewell to everyone. And then, he told me to not take life for granted and to live life to its fullest and to take chances and to be bold and take risks. He made me make this promise to him. And then we got into a rocketship and flew throughout space.”
‘Sorry Doesn't Know’
“That song I wrote when my friend was going through a tragedy. It’s not my story to tell, really. [But] I think this song is about making a decision, about when a tragedy happens, learning to choose love over fear.”
“I consider myself a productive working woman. I’m surrounded by working women, I’ve always been surrounded by great women. Because of that, I guess I kind of feel like I’m part of a tribe of women who push themselves and push each other. It doesn’t have to be just about women. It’s about working to the depths of yourself because hopefully you’re passionate about what you’re doing and creating something that has value. [It’s about] how it feels to be working to your core on something that you love, which sometimes can be hard.”
“It’s a sensual, romantic, passionate type of song, which I never would normally write, but it just kind of happened. I felt it was a different type of writing that I’ve never really embraced before. I don’t want to say it’s a love song but that’s kind of what it is. It’s just a song about passionate love.”
Paradise will be released March 3 on Outside Music. Pre-order it here.
Jenn Grant will soon be on tour in North America, the U.K. and Ireland starting March 9. See all dates here.
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