Interview: Ambre McLean, “My Heart”

We’ve been waiting three years for Ambre McLean to release a new album – but “My Heart,” released just last month, was well worth the wait.  This collection of reflective, thoughtful songs, with Ambre’s astonishing voice over a primarily acoustic background, is a jewel.

Opening with “Morning Lullaby” (a layered a capella piece), the gently swinging “Me, My Heart, and The Moon” sets the mood for the album – terrifically personal lyrics, tunes that stick in your head and won’t leave (in the best possible way).  “Posters” is a gorgeous remembrance of a young woman who left the world too soon, while “Sad Day” (one of the highlights on the project, in my opinion) perfectly captures the feelings many of us have after a tragedy.

This is the perfect time of year to reflect on life in all its ups and downs, and Ambre McLean’s “My Heart” is the perfect soundtrack for that sort of pondering.  Beautifully sung, beautifully written, this album cannot fail to move you.

We’re so pleased that Ambre took a few minutes to speak with us about the project.

It’s been three years since your last album.  As you started working on this new project, did you have a specific theme or sound in mind for it, or did that evolve as the songs evolved?

Well, this album “My Heart” is a continuation of an idea I had – to release 3 albums “Me”, “My Heart” and “The Moon” in succession (‘The Moon’ will be released in 2018).

“My Heart” was actually supposed to be released 6 months after “Me” but I found out that I was pregnant during the final stages of recording, and it slowed things down considerably. I had several complications during my pregnancy so I decided to shelve the project until I could fully commit to it again. The songs were already written and much of the production was already complete. The whole reason for choosing to release 3 separate, but related albums, was to give 3 different voices to my musical personalities. I tend to cross- genre-inate (is that a word?? haha) and love to dabble in different writing styles so I wanted to compartmentalize, so to speak.

Ambre McLean

This album is much more acoustic – how does stripping down the sound challenge you as a songwriter and musician?

“My Heart” is a collection of extremely personal songs. Songs I’ve written for others, songs I’ve been asked to write, songs that reflect the people that are dear to my heart. It felt right to instrumentally scale things back and focus more on songs themselves, hoping to highlight the melody and the lyrics.

How has parenting changed your approach to music, if at all?

I think it’s only natural that my approach to music would change, my entire life changed. I always have my children in the forefront, when I do or say anything now. It affects the way I am in the world. I can’t give you an exact example, but I know it’s there.

Was there a specific event that inspired “Sad Day,” or a collection of events?

It was a collection of events for sure. The initial inspiration for the song happened after learning of the Norway attack in 2011. And then in 2012, Sandy Hook happened. I am so deeply saddened when children get caught in the crossfire of terrible acts. Sad Day was written on my birthday in 2013, after having a day with my husband and my young son and thinking about how grateful I was to be a parent. Yet at the same time, there is a deep sadness when I think about all of the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and family who are stripped and robbed of their families for no reason or fault of their own.

What touring plans do you have in the next few months?

I have plans to stay close to home and just tour Ontario until 2018. I am heading to Kansas in February to attend FAI – Folk Alliance International. I do have 2018 touring plans but they are still in the works.

Recently Canadian Women in Music released their analysis of how equally women are represented in festival bookings and appearances.  Some festivals did a great job but some were abysmal.  Do you have some thoughts on why so many festivals don’t yet book a proportionate number of female artists?

I honestly think it’s because there are a disproportionate amount of females in music. It’s simply a matter of numbers. I definitely think it is changing though, and I believe that the more women hone their craft,  join the industry,  and put themselves out there, the more we’ll see women gracing the stages in equal measure.

~ L

Visit Ambre McLean’s website.

Preview and buy “My Heart” online.

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