Jackie McLean of the indie band Roan Yellowthorn grants us an inside look at the making of an album from start to finish in her ‘Breaking The Record’ column.
‘Rediscovered’ – Roan Yellowthorn
This column started out chronicling the creation of my forthcoming studio album. Our timeline became a little extended because of… well, the state of the world. So, while I am still working towards that release, I’m happy to have this platform to write, occasionally, about other things related to my music and the process of creating it and bringing it into the world.
Just jumping into the Breaking The Record series documenting the making of our album from start to finish? Read part 1
Much of writing music is drawing from influences. As a songwriter, there are many mediums that I draw from. When it comes to musicians who inspire me, I have a handful that I come back to again and again. There are some that are like idols to me; consistent sources of awe.
One of these figures, for me, is Alanis Morissette.
Her music resonates with me, deeply. When I was a child, listening to ‘Head Over Feet’ on the radio, I loved it because of its forthrightness. I don’t know if I could have identified that characteristic, specifically, at the time, but it grabbed my attention. It set the song apart.
When I was older, listening to the rest of Jagged Little Pill, I could feel my body loosen, listening to the truth in the lyrics and the power in the voice. It was an experience that felt empowering, although, again, I don’t know if I could have identified it that way at the time.
When I started writing songs a few years ago, I began to appreciate Alanis Morissette in a new way. In addition to appreciating her as a performer, I became awed by her lyricism. The way that she phrases her lyrics. The emotional power she puts behind them. Her raw vulnerability. The unvarnished essence of who she is, apparent in every track. Her stamp, unmistakable, on every song. The power of her voice. Of her lyrics. Of her emotion. The honesty driving it all. To me, it’s truly awe-inspiring.
When I started writing my new album, which will be out sometime next year, I set out to write a truly honest album. One of the artists who inspired me in that regard was Alanis Morissette. Knowing that someone has bared their soul before you makes doing it yourself feel a little less scary. Instead of feeling like uncharted territory, it feels like following in a sacred tradition.
I bare my soul in my music. It’s a safe space for me to say things I would maybe never say in conversation to someone else. To be so honest is exhilarating. And also a little unsettling. But, mostly, it’s thrilling. It connects me to the truth. It’s therapeutic. It’s necessary.
I was surprised when, recently, someone very special to me told me that Alanis Morissette had a new album out: Such Pretty Forks in the Road, released on July 31.
Honestly, I was a little apprehensive to listen to it. It’s been eight years since her last album, and I wondered what this one would be like. I was a little scared. I didn’t want it to change my image of her as an artist. Would it be terrible? Would it be some kind of dance album? Would the lyrics be soft and tame, without any of the acerbity I’ve always loved?
Only one way to find out.
I listened to the album as I mowed the lawn (I do that every week or so) and, by the end of the first track, I felt awe suffusing my body.
The words were biting, honest, vulnerable. The music was real. And her voice. It was so strong. So… Alanis. It sounded like her. The years had only made her conviction more powerful. This was a woman speaking her truth, the way that I strive to do. After listening to the album (and then ordering the vinyl), my feelings of awe for Alanis had only grown. It had matured into something even deeper.
This, I thought, is how I want to age. With power.
This is to say that, if you haven’t heard her new album yet, give it a listen. It’s what the world needs now and always – truth.
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? © Jackie McLean
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