Published Jan 22, 2009"When I started making Echoes, I knew it was going to be a heart-wrenching thing, but I didn't really realize how much until I got there and was doing it," Jenn Grant says over the phone from Halifax, her frank tone a change from her usual starry-eyed demeanour. When the Halifax folk musician first started penning songs for her sophomore release, she knew the emerging product was nothing like 2007's dancing, dream-happy Orchestra For The Moon. She knew her tunes were taking a darker, more personal turn. She also knew they were sounding way too melancholic for her liking. But what she didn't know was that was writing a break-up record.
"I was still in this relationship that these songs were based on, and didn't really know what was going on. In the middle of recording the record, I realized it was a break-up album and I had to do the breaking up."
To this day, Echoes still reveals many of Grant's subconscious feelings. "These past couple of years, I'd been battling with trying to make [a relationship] work, and that was really hard on me," Grant says. "I always write about what I feel, and I was feeling a lot of pain about this situation, and then I listened to [my music] when I was recording and was like, 'Oh my God, what is wrong?' So it was a really full circle thing, to go through something for such a long time and then listen to yourself and go 'Wow, I need to make some changes' and then do them."
Grant recorded Echoes in the summer of 2008 on a farm in rural Ontario, the serene surroundings prompting a sense of much-needed simplicity in her music. There, she ended up cutting the album down from 18 tracks to 13, and chose to tape them live in order to capture the moment. Following the same vein of simplicity, Grant even said no to guests on the record (with the exception of singer-songwriter Rose Cousins) in order to avoid the jumble of too many opinions.
In the end, Echoes was all about making herself happy instead of catering to others. "It's about finding your own voice and sharing that with people," she says. "You only live once." Album opener "Heartbreak" highlights this search for identity in an ever-changing world, a steady wall of background instrumentals acting as a foundation for her crystalline voice and delicate thoughts. "You'll Be Gone" and "Where Are You Now" capture Grant's emotional wanderings, characterized by the recurring image of boats.
Grant feels Echoes is a fitting title for these drifting, introspective songs. For her, echoes represent the process of self-exploration she underwent and the life lessons she'll take with her until she's 90. Although Echoes stands as Grant's first heartbreak album, she hopes it'll be the last.
"If you see the album art, the painting, it's mountains and northern lights... I think they're symbolic of strength, and I picture echoes coming from the mountains and the beautiful sounds of nature," Grant explains. "It's also a reflection of yourself, and this album is obviously a reflection of me.
"[The title is also based upon] an old Greek mythology story based on a girl named Echo. She's in love with this guy named Narcissus. She loses herself because she falls in love with this guy who's in love with himself. In the end, she remains an echo and can only yell [to him] things that people yell at her. I think that's an interesting story. I don't want to become an echo."