“I’m a child of the ’80s,” says Norma MacDonald. “I did love Wham!, I did love Duran Duran. I was nine, not even! But my dad was always a huge old-school country fan—Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton. I was too young to appreciate it too appreciate it at the time.”
The Halifax-via-New Waterford songwriter now finds herself, ironically, leaning toward the country side of alt-country, as evidenced on her brand-new second record, A Forest for the Trees, which she will officially release on Thursday, October 16 at the Seahorse. “I started writing songs late, compared to most people, and I was surprised that this is what would come out of me,” she says, fresh off the plane from a wedding/Thansksgiving combo in Southern Ontario. “I’ve learned to embrace that. I love all the alt-country bands too—Wilco, Ryan Adams, The Jayhawks.”
MacDonald began working on the record two summers back with Charles Austin at his studio, Echo Chamber Audio. “It did tend to sprawl on for various reasons. Mike Catano was my drummer and he moved to San Francisco. Then I went to Greece for almost the entire month of August. It just seemed to take a long time, in a good way, in a lot of ways. We really thought about what we wanted to do instead of doing it just to do something.”
She’s assembled a crack band that includes Adam Fine of Gypsophilia, Daniel Ledwell of In-Flight Safety (he also did the album’s artwork), Keith Mullins and a rotating cast of support. “The instrumentation is different—there’s not much electric guitar,” she says of the difference between the new LP and her 2005 debut, Nothing is Where it Was. “Putting piano on a song, I didn’t realize before that it makes all the difference in the world! The overall vibe is a little more laidback. It sounds to me a lot more like something I would sit down and listen to. I was happy with the last record too, but this feels a lot more like me.”
Norma MacDonald releases A Forest for the Trees with Acres and Acres on October 16 at The Seahorse at 8pm.