Tue, Aug 7, 2012.
Folk singer-songwriter Amanda Rheaume had a mission when she was putting together the songs for her debut disc, Light Of Another Day. The mainstay of the Ottawa scene is touring the Maritimes right now, and on a glowing Charlottetown morning on the waterfront, it was easy for her to speak about being positive. That's the key to the disc, she says. "I had always done EP's before," she explains, "but as far as a collection of songs, I really wanted to get a full thought out there. It's like putting out a folk book, you know? It's got all the chapters together." And for the theme of the book, she wanted to give something positive back to the listener.
"The songs, some of them are new, some of them I've been playing for awhile, but a lot of them were written for this disc," says Rheume. "I wanted them to be positive. I had written a lot of diary songs in the past, my heart's been broken, that kind of thing. I had gone on a tour in the States, doing a lot of house concerts and such, and I realized I was singing to actual people, you take that for granted a lot, and I wanted to give them a positive message. I thought hard about what I was saying. And it was important to me to have something for them in the lyrics."
That doesn't mean this is over-the-top happiness or Oprah self-help medicine. The songs on Light Of Another Day don't push a good feeling down your throat, it's more a message that no matter what, it will be okay. "I realized all this crazy stuff is going on in the world," she says, echoing what a lot of us have felt. "It's the weather, the war, the recession, and people were kind of afraid to say, I'm having a bad day. We lead isolated lives, and I think we forget we can lean on each other and help each other out. It's amazing as humans, I don't think we give each other enought credit, we're very resilient."
While song titles such as Let Yourself Breathe and Better Days Ahead spell it out, Rheume can even find ways to make a positive statement in the worst situations. Her tune Push On was written for military families after she took three trips to Afghanistan to play for Canadian troops there. "I went in 2009, Kandahar, that was my first time," she remembers. "When I was there, three soldiers were killed, it was intense. I'd never been in a war zone, or a desert, it was quite overwhelming. We went right to the ramp ceremony after we played." The culture shock lessoned over the next two visits, and she found what the people stationed there really needed was a good feeling in a song.
Rheume feeds off that contact, and that's what has led her to make the move outside her Ottawa base after 10 years of building. "I was playing full-time in Ottawa, five times a week, schlepping it, trying to make a living. But I knew I wanted to travel, and play for new people. I find regular gigs are great, but when you do that, you don't grow. So it's really important to meet new people and audiences."
You can meet Amanda Rheume in the coming days as she continues her Maritime tour. You'll find her at:
Wed, Aug. 8 Marc's Studio, Charlottetown
Thurs, Aug. 9 Trailside Inn, Mount Stewart, PEI
Fri, Aug. 10 Somerset Pub, Saint John, NB
Sat., Aug. 11 Creek View Restaurant, Gagetown, NB
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Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).