Since I released Dearestly last year, I’ve been wanting to share some of the stories behind the songs and how they came to be. Some I began writing as early as 2013, and some were written while we were in the studio recording just last year. Some were written on the road, some at home, some taking an afternoon to finish while others took years. Over the next little while, I’ll be showcasing the stories behind a few of the songs from Dearestly: what inspired them, where I wrote them, and some interesting stories surrounding them. If you’re part of the Exclusive Content Project, you’ll also get exclusive access to an EP with never-before-heard demos and early versions of the song from its inception all the way through the writing process. To sign up for the Exclusive Content Project, go to www.laurenmannmusic.com/exclusives. If there’s a particular song you’d like to hear about, please comment below or send me an email (oddfolk(at)laurenmannmusic(dot)com). I always love hearing what songs you connect with!
This month I wanted to tell you about the song Brave Face, which was the first single from Dearestly, and I think the song that took the longest to finish writing. Brave Face began with the working title of Who Are You* in early 2013 when we were living in the rural town of Brooks, AB. Our house was a 250 square foot cabin (you may remember me sharing some photos of life at The Cabin) and we had one room set up as a living space with keyboards and a small table, and the other room as a bedroom. I remember writing the first verse and the melody of the pre chorus of the song and being really excited about where it was going, but it didn’t go anywhere for a long while. I worked on the song on and off for months, and made some headway when we were in Quebec later that year, but for the life of me I couldn’t write a chorus.
It wasn’t until I began pre-production for the album in early 2015 that the song began to take its finished form. I went to Vancouver to work on a song with Howard Redekopp before I knew he’d be producing the album, and we decided to work on Brave Face as a sort of trial run. I played what I had for him, he came up with a melody idea for a chorus, I scribbled down some lyrics and we recorded a demo that was very similar to how we recorded the final product. Later that year in Calgary, I was going over the lyrics of all the songs for the album with Josh Rob Gwilliam, and he had some brilliant inspiration that turned into the prechorus:
“Set course to love, make stops on the way, frame all the finest memories.”
With that, the song was finished only two-and-a-half years later. It was a really fun song to record, especially with the slow down into the bridge. We tried mapping out the tempo, but Kurt Dahle who played drums just went for it and on the first take it sounded like it should, so we formed everything else around that.
To me the song has a sunny day, windows down, road trip sort of feel. It makes me think of spontaneous adventures, taking risks, and having lots of laughs. There wasn’t one specific experience that inspired Brave Face, rather it was more of a collection of thoughts and musings. I’ve often felt inhibited by fear and insecurity, letting the timid side of my personality dominate instead of acting on my goals and ambitions. The prospect of failing and other unnecessary worries can be extremely debilitating if you let them be. I’m thankful to be married to a visionary and doer who, as soon as he has an idea, immediately figures out how to make it happen. He has been a huge inspiration to me, and has encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and do things that on my own, I probably would have been too afraid to do (like touring, recording, and all the crazy wonderful things I’ve been able to do as we’ve been pursuing music). Even so, with all the touring we’ve done and the countless circumstances where I’ve had to go out on a limb and face my fears, I still face the crippling self-doubt but I’m learning to not let it rule my life and dictate what I do. So I suppose this song was an anthem to myself, to rise above the fear and insecurity and pursue what I’m passionate about. As Sir Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Do you have a story about putting on a brave face? I’d love to hear how you deal with fear, insecurity, or other obstacles in your life. Comment below or send me an email!
Thanks for reading, and if you haven’t listened to Dearestly, you can check it out on my website: www.laurenmannmusic.com. To get exclusive access to the Brave Face EP with demos and unreleased tracks, sign up for the Exclusive Content Project HERE.
*If you own the CD or Vinyl copy of Dearestly, you may have noticed that the second track on the album is called Who Are You, not Brave Face. Who Are You was the original working title of the song, and it wasn’t until we came up with the final track listing that I decided to call it Brave Face. Somehow though, during all the editing of the copy for the album art work I completely missed the fact that it was still titled as Who Are You, and it got printed like that. 🙂