An Afternoon on Mont Royal

Some of you may have seen my Instagram post yesterday about songwriting. I was flipping through my notebook and realized that I didn’t get many songs written last year. It seemed to be the year of bits and pieces. While I sometimes allow that to make me feel guilty for not “doing my job” or being creative enough, the truth is that there is a place for bits and pieces of inspiration that had a great start, but didn’t go anywhere. Now those little voice memos and scribbled notes are starting points, launching me into a new season of songwriting. I feel very inspired and though it can be a slow go like any creative endeavour, I’m excited to diligently work through all the bits and pieces from last year’s writing and watch them turn into beautiful songs.

One of the reasons that there weren’t as many songs being written last year was our focus on releasing Dearestly, and the huge tour we went on in the fall. While in Monteral, I got to spend a few hours before our show to take some photos with my friend Stéphane Lord on the beautiful Mont Royal. If you haven’t been to Montreal, Mont Royal is a small mountain in the middle of the city, home to a sprawling park full of forests, pathways, and parkland that makes you forget you’re in one of the largest cities in Canada. Most of the leaves had fallen when we were there making for a barren landscape that gave a stark backdrop to the bold, velvet outfits I decided to wear.

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Lauren Mann

Velvet Maxi Dress: Free People // Embroidered Cape: vintage // Velvet Skirt: vintage Holt Renfrew // Turtleneck: vintage Ralph Lauren

Makeup: Pure Anada

Cheers,
Lauren.

Memorable Moments of 2016

This past year was a lot different than years past but it was filled with so many wonderful moments and was a significant year for us in many ways. I had a lot of fun looking back at photos from the year and thinking of what some of the highlights were. Even though we’re already a few days into 2017, I thought I’d share them with you (in no particular order).

This was our first full year living on Pender Island and we spent a lot of our home time exploring different spots on the island. There are so many nooks and crannies and beautiful viewpoints and all of them feel like a totally different place and leave me awe-inspired every time. Living on this beautiful island will never get old, and I love being able to share it with friends and family.

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One of the biggest blessings about this year was being able to host friends, family, and musicians in our house. At the beginning of the year I joined about 10 other friends for a collaborative benefit concert, and we spent many evenings rehearsing in our house. We hosted eight house concerts and lots of guests come through, and we even got to be part of helping our friends WhiteBird record their first album. It was a musically fulfilling year, for sure!

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In the spring we gathered up the Fairly Odd Folk and hit the road for a two week tour through Alberta. It was a joyous time, made even more fun by the presence of Phoenix, our three year old honourary tour manager.

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Also in the spring we filmed a few music videos with very talented friends of ours, and I had my first acting roles! We filmed the Hibernate video with Ross and Madison Bodenmann here on Pender Island, and then flew to Ontario to film the Brave Face music video (and another one which we’ll be releasing soon) with Cole and Lydia of Portage Creative. It was really fun and stretching to do a little bit of acting in the videos, something I haven’t done before but I really enjoyed it!

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In the summer I spent a LOT of time in my garden. It still doesn’t look like much, but I did a lot of weeding and built a couple garden beds. This year I hope to clean up more of the garden and do some planting as well.

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In the summer we got to be part of the Folk on the Rocks Festival in Yellowknife, NWT. It was the first time to Canada’s north for all of us and we were enamoured by the wonderful community and the long summer nights. Someday I’d love to visit in the winter and check out the northern lights.

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The highlight of the year for me was FINALLY releasing Dearestly, my second studio full length album. I recorded it in fall of 2015 with Howard Redekopp and Josh Gwilliam at the lovely OCL Studios, and being able to finally share it with the world after a long wait has been so wonderful. It’s very humbling to release music that is so close to my heart and have it be part of so many people’s lives. The album is still a pay-what-you-feel download on my website, and we have CDs and vinyl too, so feel free to check it out if you haven’t yet!

In the fall Zoltan and I got to take Dearestly on the road with a 50 date solo tour across Canada. He built a beautiful stage set up and I came up with a really fun solo set, and we headed out on a long adventure. We got to see many of you, and that was the highlight for me, reconnecting with friends and making so many beautiful new connections.

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We finished the year at our home on Pender with sweet Maxine (our kitty, if you haven’t yet been acquainted) and a quiet Christmas and New Years. It’s wonderful to be back in our house and spend time with our friends who I missed like crazy when we were on tour. I’ve been able to do a lot of reflecting on the past year, and look ahead to 2017 and set some goals and intentions. I am so grateful to the growth that happened last year, and I am so excited to see what adventures lay ahead for us in 2017! Happy New Year to all of you, and I hope to do more writing on here in the coming weeks and months.

Cheers,
Lauren.

 

MUSIC VIDEO – Hibernate

Happy new year everyone!

I don’t know about you, but it’s hard to believe that another year has passed and it’s already 2017. It seems like time moves faster every year, a good reminder to slow down and enjoy all the moments along the way.

Anyway, I’m excited to share a new music video with you for the song Hibernate! We’ve been doing a lot of hibernating ourselves the past few weeks since getting home from tour, so it seems fitting to release the video right now. It was written & directed by our friend Ross Bodenmann, with additional shooting by Zoltan, and production help from Madison Bodenmann.

Here are a few behind-the-scenes shots from the shoot, which we did on a very rainy day at some of our favourite locations around Pender. It was so much fun getting to collaborate with good friends, and also get to show them around the island!

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Cheers,
Lauren.

Dearestly Review Contest!

Thank you to everyone who sent in their review of Dearestly for our contest! It was really cool to hear what you think of the album, what songs you like, and how it’s impacted you. The contest closed yesterday, and we are excited to announce who will be receiving the CD package, including Dearestly, limited edition t-shirt, screen printed poster, and 100g of Dearestea. The winner is…

BEN CHENOWETH!

This is what Ben had to say about Dearestly:

“Lauren Mann’s new album Dearestly is my current pick for album of the year (however, I don’t see it being supplanted any time soon). There are a number of stand-out tracks, two of which are in line for my top five songs of the year (“New Beginning” and “You Are Fire”). However, that is not to sell the other songs short! “Brave Face” and “Beautiful Place” are also very strong songs; the Beatlesque outro on “St. Lawrence” is such fun; the driving rhythm of “Show Me The Way” brings a real sense of urgency to the latter part of the album; and the 7/4 bridge on “Wooden Heart” is a great touch. Highly recommended!”

Thanks for the kind words, Ben, and everyone who submitted something on Facebook, Instagram, and by email. If you’d like to hear what other people have to say about Dearestly, you can read the reviews below, along with a few official reviews.

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“Some classic Lauren, some newer divergences, but it’s all gold.”
– Ryan Kiedrowski – http://www.rykiephoto.com/official-rykie-blog/lauren-manns-new-album-brooks-alberta-photographer

“The themes and purpose spark truths in my humanity that draw me towards these songs in an inescapable fondness of rediscovery.”
– Why You Should Love Music – http://whyyoushouldlovemusic.com/?s=lauren+mann

“I have not heard a more pleasant pure pop album for years and may well be a five star album.”
– Wout Natris – http://wonomagazine.blogspot.ca/2016/09/dearestly-lauren-mann.html

“We love your new album. It is a beautiful album full of authenticity. We can hear Lauren’s heart in every song. We enjoyed the variety of instruments and melodies.”
– Val Gurney

“Dearestly is a wonderful sonic journey that builds on Lauren’s already amazing body of work to craft something that is really special. You can really tell that it has been made by someone who loves making music and sharing it with the world. I would say that it is my favourite of the album of the year and that is saying something as I have heard a lot of amazing music this year. Favourite song: New Beginning.”
– Ben Perkins

“Dearestly told such a beautiful story. Each of the songs was handcrafted from the heart & I found myself tearing up from time to time when some lyrics would hit home. It’s the perfect album to have playing on a lazy Sunday afternoon.”
– Kelsey Benson

“Leaving. Arriving. Finding. Changing. Staying. “Dearestly” explores all these topics. That’s what makes it such an universal album, since there are few things as rich to the human experience of learning, growing and discovering as going through all of these. On top of that, Lauren Mann has laid out all these intense feelings in the form of a colourful landscape on a canvas of bravery, curiosity, strength and love.

From a personal perspective, I could not recommend this album more, especially if you’re longing for a change, experiencing one, or settling on a new place –whether geographical or spiritual–. Lauren’s craft comes forward organically as an encouragement to overcome fear, a new perspective to pursue your dreams, and a supportive hug, no matter the outcome. Her music will be there for you.”
– Regina Sienra

“But I’m still a bit nervous, to start all over again”. It is certainly a new beginning for Lauren Mann who dropped the “and the Fairly Odd Folk” moniker this time around. As you listen to her new album Dearestly, you get the feeling that something happened since the last record came out, that she’s stepped up her game and wrote a major record.

Inspired. This record feels inspired.

From the poppy “Brave Face” to the melancholy of “Oregon” and the electric guitar of “Show me the way”, each song resonates and is a success. Lauren even manages to bring Canada’s two solitudes together with the beautiful and timeless “St. Lawrence”. The record came out last July and I’m still listening to this album almost daily without skipping a song. “Et tout ce temps, je n’me suis jamais sentie aussi vivante”… and it’s the same for us!”
– Phillippe W. Naud

“My favorite album so far of Lauren’s. After listening to Dearestly, I found myself humming and singing some of the words of so many songs. New Beginnings, I Wanna Know, Oregon, and Show me the Way are particularly meaningful to me. An absolute hit! Then to see Lauren sing in person on our beautiful Gabriola Island, made it even more poignant and yet so hopeful. Thank you, Lauren.”
– Wendy Pitcher

“Dearestly is one of the best albums I have ever heard! Produced and recorded very well! I recommend it to all my friends!”
– Jaimen Bendixon

“I’m an old Minnesotan transplanted to northern FL. No more snow for me. But I do miss the unique music that is found in the northern climes and your music, including “Dearestly”, lets me immerse myself in memories of home. Thanks for the memories!”
– Reid Woolery

“I have the extreme luck of being Lauren’s tenant, meaning I heard some of the rehearsals and all I can say is that I’ve never heard such sweet lyrical vocals, backed with excellent rhythm. I was delighted to download Dearestly when it became available and it’s become one of my go to albums to feel elevated, inspired, joyous and delighted with life. That’s an impressive list of reasons to go to an album.”
– Kath Chapman

“Talented musical voices that will change the world, one note at a time.”
– Shawn Robert Harvey

“Dearestly is a beautiful record. There is not a weak point on this album; all the songs are either good or great. I honestly did not think Lauren Mann’s last album “Over Land and Sea” could be topped, but I was wrong!”
– Michael Roman

“Dearestly was one of the major highlights of my summer, and so very continues to be a source of comfort and encouragement to me. “Hibernate” and “Oregon” remind me of a rainy day 7-8 hour bus ride I took this summer from New York back home to Virginia because I had them on repeat and refused to turn them off, “You Are Fire” is one of my top favourite relaxation songs, and “Brave Face” has gotten me through many anxious moments (and is definitely the song I hum to myself on hard days at work). In short…so many of the songs already hold precious memories of mine, and this is an album that will always be near and dear to my heart. Thank you.”
– Lexi Shaw

“This is a goregous album, full of layered melodies, and held by Lauren’s voice. The listener has a full experience from bubbly and sunny songs, to more evocative compositions, all of which sound organic and lovely. Dearestly went on my favorites playlist immediately after download, and I don’t see it leaving anytime soon.”
– @nittfox1977

“Dearestly manages to tell a story personal to the artist, yet relatable to every listener. Layered styles and sound make this a dynamic album, full of songs you can dance, sing, relax, and let’s face it, cry to. Lauren Mann has done it again…”
– @chloejletters

“Dearestly is a masterpiece! Not the kind that gets hung in a museum, or in a locked vault somewhere secret because it is worth that much and more… No, it is the kind of masterpiece that can only be appreciated when it is shared. That’s exactly what Lauren did… She shared something neat and dear to her… So that it could be near and dear to the world…Dearestly…a masterpiece! Voice and soul cascading over delicate keys, strings, thumps, and crescendo… Yes, a masterpiece, if ever such a thing definitively and truly existed.”
– @rbaileyallen

“A tremendous album from a substantial artist with a beautiful voice, and a very engaging sense of musicality. Not to mention being just such a lovely person. If you enjoy incredibly well-crafted songs, you owe it to yourself to get this album.”
– Gerry Lipnowski

Set Course to Love

Earlier this week I released the music video for my song Brave Face, the first single from Dearestly. The song has been in rotation on CBC Radio 2 across Canada and it’s been pretty cool to tune in randomly a few times and hear it over the airwaves! And I’m excited to have a visual to accompany the song, filmed and produced by our good friends at Portage Creative.

When Cole from Portage Creative told us his vision for the song, I was pretty excited that it involved going sailing in a friend’s boat around Georgian Bay. I had been in a sailboat before, but never under full sail, and definitely not being the one to navigate! Scott was a wonderful guide, teaching me the ways of sailing, and helping us do some tricky manuevers to get all the shots. It was a day of many new experiences, and I think that’s why I love this video so much, because it marries my two passions: music and adventure.

We also got to work with some of Cole & Lydia’s friends who did a wonderful job as the other characters in the story, and we even grabbed a few random people to be extras, which turned out great! It was a beautiful collaborative effort that involved late nights, crying babes, Subway runs, and lots of stepping out of my comfort zone. I thought I’d share some behind-the-scenes shots of the shoot that will give you a closer look at what went in to create such a beautiful video.

Cheers,
Lauren.