Icehouse (2528 Nicollet)
February 22, 2015 at 7:00 pm (sharp!)
$8/$10 at door
For Natalie Lovejoy, trusting the process means starting with music, and then letting the words come. And after being silent for almost a decade, Lovejoy returns to the stage with a dynamic third album and new trust in the process.
15 years ago to the day, February 22, 2000, Lovejoy released her first album at the Dakota and for the next few years was swept up in a life of love and music, only one of which would last. After a wedding, a second album, one child, and then another - on top of being an independent business owner - the years passed and music all but disappeared. New realities took hold, ones that weren't necessarily ideal, and Lovejoy felt something missing. "You know that classic story," she asked me, "of how once people get married, they change?" Well, that change meant that her music wasn't supported, it wasn't a priority. And running into famed Minneapolis writer Jim Walsh years after her last performance, she was received with: "Where have you been? You fell off the face of the earth!”
As Lovejoy told me matter-of-factly, "If you don’t honor your art, it'll tell you in other ways," and she realized she had to be making music to be true to herself, to what was in her soul. It started by hosting a women’s songwriting group for women with children: creating a place and time to make making music their priority. The rule was, you had to show up with a new song, no matter how ridiculous. This cultivation of creativity included names such as Katy Vernon and Hannah Lynch, who "were all watching each other blossom again," and Lovejoy was no exception. She got back to playing shows here and there, a minimal commitment at best, but one that threatened her (romantic) legal one. As quickly as her Kickstarter fundraiser and support for a third album came together, her marriage fell apart. There's "that person [who] will always make you feel like you can’t do [it]," Lovejoy told me, and there was just no place for him anymore.
Partnering with Grammy-nominated Andy Thompson (Jeremy Messersmtih, Dan Wilson) this time around, Lovejoy has been able to write her richest release yet: Hiding in the Light.
The title track, which concludes the album, came about after Lovejoy titled the album. In her marriage she felt trapped, and worked to maintain what there was, but she saw hope - a light - in the future. This name was so fitting, she wished she could write a song for it, and just that happened one day upon coming into the studio. This lovely waltz plays on the positives, in the midst of other heavier topics, daring to say, "you bring me peace of mind I've never known." The elegant instrumentals round out the feeling of what could be, inspiring a feeling of hope, and that love may come again.
Considering Lovejoy's life events have been no easy feat in the last few years, optimistic tunes like "Hiding" shine bright, although she found it was easy to err on the depressing side of things. But Lovejoy isn't one to write a full album of melancholy tunes, no matter what she's been through. How to stop writing depressing music, one might ask? Well, she took Jeremy Messersmith's advice, which is: "Buy a ukulele!" Lovejoy used this merry instrument to write a song for her daughter; to cheer her up before going to school, where she was getting bullied. With a few tweaks for the album, it has become a song that we can all listen to and get a a skip back in our step before heading out the door.
Every song on this record has a story. From "House of Coates," about the book by Alex Soth and Brad Zeller, to the more personal ones, that tell the story with the lyrics themselves. Lovejoy lays out her past and her future not only with words, but with her mature, soulful vocals that light up every song like fresh morning light coming into a room. She can be intimate or build up a bright glory of sound, like on "One of a Kind," as she repeats the title phrase with full band behind. She asks "Would You Be Happy?" like the quiet thoughts running through her head, but later it's clear the end is near as "Goodbye" evokes a dramatic soundtrack feel, with heavy percussion, distorted guitar, and Lovejoy not holding back.
Take it from her directly: the "artistic part of our lives is important for everybody." Don't deny yourself the great pleasure of seeing Lovejoy step into the light on stage at Icehouse tomorrow night, and perform Hiding in the Light. After all these years, it turns out that no matter which loves end, love of music never will. Trust in the process, and it seems anything is possible. Even, perhaps, a happy ending.
Special thanks to Natalie Lovejoy and Krista Vilinskis.