Not that we are actively keeping score of how many artists we have caught live in concert following the two-year pause button that was the Covid-19 pandemic, but you only have to skim through our concert recap archives from the last 18 months to see JUNO-Award nominee Terra Lightfoot’s name pop up with some frequency. A long-time favorite here at Team GDW, there are no excuses as to why we only managed one date with Terra prior to the pandemic, but since resuming travel and music adventures back in February 2022, we’ve crossed paths with this Hamilton, ON-born, and now Haliburton, ON-resident on five occasions to date.
Our most recent encounters with Terra (guitar/vocals) have been monumental full-band affairs, each time featuring her trusted sidekicks Eli Abrams (bass/vocals) and Blue Rodeo’s Glenn Milchem (drums/vocals). When this trio happen to grace a stage, something very special always follows – their chemistry, charisma, and talents shining brightly each and every time. Oh, how we wish they could bottle this magic for future posterity, perhaps uncorking it in a studio sometime and laying down some tracks for our listening pleasures. I recall back in the summer of 2022, Terra informally announced not only working on new album material with producer Gus Van Go, but had extended the invitation to both Eli and Glenn to join them in the studio to bring this vision to life. Consider that magic bottled…
Afforded little opportunity to tour her previous album, “Consider The Speed” – released during the height of the pandemic in October 2020 – Terra has thrilled audiences with several cuts from this album since live music returned. Yet, as witnessed during our encounters with Terra, she has been equally forthwith about sharing tunes from “Healing Power,” her latest studio album released today, via Sonic Unyon. “There was a sense of freedom, both personally and creatively, that struck me while I was writing this record,” Terra shares. “Once I got back into the studio with Gus, having already made two records with him, there was an undeniable comfort and workflow that we just fell into. We are super-productive together in the studio. I also seem to get my best vocal takes with Gus behind the board. We built this record pretty quickly together with the band on call whenever we needed them.”
Indeed, one such early teaser track – titled “The Only One Of Your Kind” – was itself born out of the pandemic. “[This is] about something that I only completely neglected – and I only found out during the first years of Covid – because I had so much time to write, and I thought what have I never written about?” Terra shared during a performance in London, ON this past July. “I’ve written about love, loss, breakups, getting together, all the beautiful parts of a love story, but I’ve never written about my best friends.” Although not released until today, this tune very quickly became an anthem for us during Terra’s performances. Articulating memories of time with her friends – set to a fun, marching rhythm – we’re left wanting to learn why they were “told to dress up fancy,” only to be taken “out to dinner at the Irving gas station.” Tell us more, please.
Roots from the album’s lead track (and first official single), “Cross Border Lovers,” also stem from the effects of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. “I played a show in Calgary where two separate couples came up to the merch table, one after another, and shared stories of being separated in different countries for months while pandemic restrictions were strict,” Terra recalls. “Both couples used to listen to a specific song of mine to feel connected to each other. Of course, I was touched. I wrote the words cross border lovers on the back of my merch settlement sheet that night … a month later, I sat down to write, looked at those words, and the song and melody fell out so quickly I could barely write it.”
Honing her songwriting skills over the last decade, Terra remains forever in tune with her surroundings, and savvy enough to find inspiration when she least expects it. Take, for example, “Someone Else’s Feelings,” another recent single whose origins came from one of the unlikeliest places. “I remember standing in a room full of songwriters and someone was talking about doing an upcoming Bob Dylan tribute night, and they said ‘isn’t is just so easy to sing someone else’s feelings’,” Terra offers. “I excused myself and went to an old cemetery across the road from the venue, and the song … was written about how we sometimes let other people’s opinions and feeling dictate how we feel about a situation. Sometimes we make excuses for other people, or we don’t speak up when we know someone is saying something we don’t agree with.”
Similarly, “Penchant For Love” finds Lightfoot digging deeper than before, sourcing inspiration from previously unconsidered recesses. “It’s the first song that I’ve ever written from a place that may be a little big of anger, of natural fear,” she shared during that same summer concert. “It’s about setting boundaries, that’s a nice way to say it.” And dare I say it, there are definite pop-punk vibes when “Come Back Around” bursts from the speakers – is there anything that Lightfoot is not prepared to experiment with? Her latest single, “Kept You In My Pocket,” however, is vintage Lightfoot – potent vocals, toe-tapping rhythms, and her mesmerizing guitar work. “I love the guitar solo – it’s right in your face – and the whole song makes me feel like dancing,” Terra adds. “The lovely thing about my relationship with Gus is that I feel safe to try things vocally that I wouldn’t normally do. So I was able to try this wild and outlandish vocal in the chorus because of that. I quite like the sort of dark groove on this one, too. It’s not the usual sound for me in some ways.”
I must confess than an uncontrollable grin formed across my face when learning that Terra titled this new collection of tunes “Healing Power.” I have often referenced the phrase healing power in the context of the positive effects that great music can have upon both one’s emotional state of mind and their entire soul. Going forward, I shall simply switch out the words healing power with Terra Lightfoot – they are one and the same, after all. Another solid dozen tunes from one of the finest musicians out there on the circuit today, and another essential addition to any enthusiast’s vinyl collection.
Photo Credits: Lyle Bell / Artist Website