With her latest album, Andrea Nixon is opening her diary to us in song… a diary full of reflections about love, life, and making all the disparate parts of both balance. “Diary of a Housewife” is chock full of songs that are firmly grounded in reality, and all the more delightful for it.
The album opens with “Million Miles,” a reflection on love’s transition from that freshness of newfound desire to separateness in proximity – “standing so close, you’re a million miles away.” “Fire in Lace” is a terrific tune about looking beyond the surface to see what’s beneath, while “Home Front” muses beautifully on how a marriage can so easily turn into an ongoing battle. “Waiting for Sirens” anchors the concept of waiting for the inevitable shoe to drop in some harrowing stories, while “You Didn’t Make Me” provides a fantastic anthem for anyone who refuses to allow others to walk all over them.
“Innerglow” provides a powerhouse turning point for the album, with Andrea’s fiery vocals soaring above this rock anthem (with plenty of country sounds, lest you worry). I think, though, that if I had to pick a favorite (and that’s a challenge, on an excellent album like this), “Song Without a Name” would have to top the list. As I said to Andrea below, the idea that “enough is never enough” is really resonant for me, and probably will be for any of us who are constantly measuring ourselves against impossible standards and believing we’re failing.
I’ve found this album terrifically enjoyable; Andrea Nixon is a superb storyteller with a fantastic voice and a gift for a clever turn of phrase. Pick up this album (you can order it from her store) and crank it up – and if you’re near a town where she’s performing, go hear her live.
We’re delighted that Andrea made time to talk with us about her album.
In listening through the album, it really struck me that the cover – and specifically the contrast between the cocktail dress and the old truck – is particularly descriptive of the project. How would you describe the varying sides of life that you depict in these songs?
I often describe my life as a “beautiful mess.” I sought to capture that essence of that with both the cover and with the songs on this record, telling heartbreak stories laced with hope.
Does “Fire in Lace” tell a bit of your own story or is it a collage of different women that you know?
“Fire in Lace” is about the woman I aspire to be and all the women who have inspired me, specifically my mom and my daughters.
You recently participated in Canada’s Music Incubator’s Artist Entrepreneurship Program – what did you bring away from that experience that has impacted how you approach your career as a musician?
CMI AE West Program was such an important part of my journey thus far. I needed to get out of the infatuation, doing whatever it takes mindset and get married to my career. This is the first time I feel capable of planning ahead and extremely confident in the team I have access to in order to strategize effectively. The other artists and mentors are now lifelong friends.
As a follow-up to that, I’m curious about your perspective on the challenges that face a number of musicians today… the need to handle so many different aspects of your career (promotion, accounting, social marketing, booking, just to name a few) and keeping enough time and space to be creative, for example, as well as the challenges that the ‘digital revolution’ present for musicians in particular?
It’s more than a full time job for sure. My saving grace is that I’m learning to ask for help and consultation and I’m getting better at planning ahead. I’m also maturing emotionally which has enabled me to separate my work from my value as a person. That’s hard to do but you can’t take rejection personally. It’s part of the journey. I also have three kids, so my life is a balancing act between motherhood, marriage and music and I strive to do all of them well but to be honest, I mess up all the time.
If you had to name two or three musical influences who have really impacted you as a creator and musician, who might those be?
Loretta Lynn and Jann Arden. Loretta for her guts and Jann for her words.
This project has elements of what I think of as more traditional/old-school country, and there are also out-and-out rockers like “Innerglow.” I know all of these are facets of your music, but do you have any preference for one style over another? (E.g., is any one a bit more fun to sing/play than others?)
I view singing as emotional expression and it may seem strange but I prefer to sing songs that are true to my emotional state at the time. So, if I’m feeling blue I love the ballads and if I’m angry, the rockers do the trick. I feel like you have to be able to access your emotions to perform well and whichever song I’m singing, when I’m able to go into that experience emotionally, it’s cathartic.
Would you be willing to share a bit about your campaign for families affected by violence? How can people learn more about it?
A: We piloted #SirenStories this year by donating some of the $5000 Project Wild award I received for career development. In Summer/Fall 2017 we visited numerous shelters performing for staff and survivors. In 2018, we aim to grow the project and will be conducting our performance tour November, which is Family Violence Awareness month. We have partnered with the Alberta Society of Women’s Shelters (ACWS) to run it as an annual program. Ahead of the tour, we will solicit stories from frontline workers and survivors and share them in our online campaign to generate awareness and donations; in November, we will perform songs in concert to engage the community and honour the work being done.
After an especially trying week at work, I’m really identifying with “Song Without a Name” and the call to ban the word “enough” – it really does seem as though “enough” is never… well, enough. As a musician, parent, etc., etc., how do you find that sweet spot where enough really exists?
I’ve learned to give myself and those around me a break and just surrender to reality. Most of the time, plan A doesn’t work out but often plan B was the better move all along. I also feel like a good person doing their best is always enough so whatever happened this week at work, I bet you did just enough and hey, you made it through!
I see you have some tour dates coming up in Ontario (and one in Montreal)!)… do you have other live dates coming up in other parts of Canada?
I’m confirming the date for a theatre show in April at Camrose’s “The Bailey Theatre” and I couldn’t be more excited cause that’ll be a full band show in a dream venue. Then we’re actually back out to Ontario for Canadian Music Week in May before we settle in Alberta some provincial touring. All dates will be posted at www.andreanixon.com with details.