Singer/songwriter releases distinctly Canadian album
The musical garden is fertile, yielding a rhythmic floral variety but still inevitably touched by the occasional unwanted burr.
“If you weed through all the crap, I’m in there with the rest of them,” says 32-year-old Holly McNarland.
The Vancouver-based rock veteran’s first album in five years, Chin Up Buttercup is a fresh blossom in a career that began 12 years ago with Sour Pie.
McNarland’s new offering bears a variety of distinctly Canadian sounds, measuring somewhere between the vocally powerful serenity of Shaye’s Damhanit Doyle and rawly candid musings of Alanis.
She attributes her maturing sound to doing things her own way. “When I first started there was a whole lot of pressure on me that I didn’t actually realize was there. I’ve relaxed in a lot of areas in my life. My career’s one of them — I love it, I’ll do it and I’ll continue to do it,” she says.
McNarland’s independence was as clear early in her career as it is today (the difference is, back then, it was called rebellion). When recording Chin Up Buttercup, she once pulled the plug on recording due to business issues causing her to feel like she had lost control.
“When I’m 65 or 70, if I’m not dead,” she laughs, “I’ll have this record, I can listen to it and say that’s exactly what I wanted it to do. Whether it sells a lot of copies or not it’s still mine and still the way I wanted to do it.”
It’s that same “my way or the highway” attitude McNarland uses while raising her two children, Nege, 8 and newborn Coco Belle. She doesn’t have cable, homeschools and allows Nege only two hours per week on his Gameboy.
“I don’t think there’s a lot of communication as a kid,” she says; a failing she believes was the case in her own upbringing. “If you’re doing your job, hopefully you learn something from your parents’ mistakes.”
And in life’s mistakes, McNarland finds ample material on which to base her music.
“I’m pretty frickin’ normal. I have kids, I went through a separation, I have issues with my family, I have issues with committing to a city, I’ve got that whole ‘grass is greener on the other side’ thing. That’s where people can relate to my songs. I write about the same kind of stuff they’re going through.”