Terra Lightfoot’s stellar third album, New Mistakes, feels like a collection of songs caught spilling out the bottom of a busted, worn-out box labelled “ex-lovers.”
It’s the kind of album that comes with enough time, that takes its perspective from the distance between leaving and letting go, and that trades not only in the rough-hewn moments of acute loss, but the small gratitudes, wry fondness or warm glow of affections past, passing, or still with some promise left unexplored.
You can listen to New Mistakes a week before its release in the CBC Music player to the left. Pre-order it here.
As a storyteller, Lightfoot is generous and wise, funny and vulnerable, like on the album’s second track, “Pinball King,” which perfectly evokes the fleeting energy of a stolen night or two between long-distance lovers. When Lightfoot sings, “You, my pinball king, you stole my heart and made it sing each time you got another replay,” it’s the plainspoken poetry of a Canadian songwriting legend in the making.
In “Stars Over Dakota,” there’s a playful ruefulness to lines like, “My love it don’t come cheap and some time it don’t come at all/ I’m lost again inside the stars that’s all.” There’s the dusty beauty of “Norma Gale,” Lightfoot’s tribute to the forgotten '70s country legend and fellow “road dog,” who toured relentlessly while also being a single mom. And there’s something deeply touching about the warm resignation Lightfoot evokes in “Drifter” as the protagonist shrugs, “I guess that I understand that you couldn’t love only one woman.”
New Mistakes' biggest highlight is “Two Hearts,” a vintage-sounding gem in which Lightfoot embraces her torch singer side crooning, “I’ve got two hearts, one for each man I’ve been loving.” It’s sexy, fun and full of swagger.
Those thrills echo in Lightfoot’s musicianship, too, particularly the honeycomb of her vocals and the power she possesses in her guitar. A wildness lurks and prowls the 12 tracks, and even at its most polished, New Mistakes wants to be raw. It demands a live reckoning, a stage and a spotlight wherein Lightfoot can thrash in all her glory and let loose all these hearts whose stories finally have a fitting place to call home.
Hang out with me on Twitter: @_AndreaWarner