The Next Chapter

What inspired Amanda Rheaume to tell stories through song

Métis singer-songwriter Amanda Rheaume is currently reading a book that profoundly changed the way she writes songs.
Pattison's "Writing Better Lyrics" is a famous handbook for songwriters that was originally published in 1995. (Writer's Digest Books/Jen Squires)

Amanda Rheaume is a Métis singer-songwriter from Ottawa. She creates powerful, stirring music that reflects upon her personal experiences and the shared history of her ancestors. Her friend and fellow songwriter Robyn Dell'Unto recently recommended that she read Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Pattison.

She said, "You've got to get this book, whatever you do. Every songwriter should read this book." So I picked it up and it is phenomenal. Gillian Welch has the foreword and is mentioned many times in the book. It just gives a sort of magnifying glass view on writing song lyrics and why certain things work and why they don't and things to think about. For the longest time, I thought that songwriting was just sit down with my journal and write my feelings. I've really been coming out of that into learning it and practicing it as a craft, telling stories through song, really painting pictures for the listener, connecting the listener to the content. This book just really provides a different way of looking at things. If a songwriter is stuck, there are different exercises you can work on to get yourself out of your rut.

Amanda Rheaume's comments have been edited and condensed.