Patience is a virtue, especially when it takes almost half a decade to finish what you've started. Andrea Somers kicks off the New Year with a bold statement: Brave, her debut solo album, is being released at The Seahorse Tavern on January 2.
While the album artwork (photographed by Karen Baer) portrays the artist draped in a fire-engine red dress holding the neck of a yellow guitar on top of a grassy hill, I find Somers with her elbows on the knees of her faded jeans, perched on a white leather couch at FRED. There are no angel wings, just a woman in a striped sweater who says she's exhausted.
"It's been four years in the making. I've been my own boss with this record," says Somers, sipping a holiday-flavoured latte, trying to wake up on a winter's morn. "It is back in my hands. I'm only doing it for me this time."
Somers has been kicking around Halifax for nearly a decade; some may recognize her from Stumble, her folk band with Amy Campbell. They released two EPs, Take Me Apart (1997) and The Fall Sessions (1998), and recorded a full-length, Down Again (2001). Campbell went on to chart her own solo career in Toronto, while Somers stayed put and chipped away at her own path.
"It's a dream that has changed form. When you start young you want to be a rock star, but life changes and you change with it," she says, putting down the stainless steel mug. "I'm certainly happier and more settled in myself. I'm more concerned with who I am as a person rather than my image."
Brave is a 12-track journey through sentiment and heart. Somers explores the various aspects of love, both the fractured and blooming heart. If The L Word ever made it to the big screen, "Heart Key" or "Gravity" would be included on the soundtrack. "Beginning" celebrates rebirth, while the heartbreaking piano ballad "Everything" closes with a lovely choir comprised of Ria Mae, Margot Durling and Tim Miller's sweet voices.
"Omens" questions the prognostic aspects of retribution with angst and a wandering bassline, while the revamped version of "Stumble" is reminiscent of an early Veruca Salt song. But by far the album's crown jewel is closing track, "The Waltz of Alcatraz," a dreamy epiphany.
Since her days in Stumble, Somers has made some serious changes. She went back to school to become an electrician, healed her heart and found new love. In the midst of crafting Brave Somers has been working on renovating her first house just off the rotary.
"I don't want to keep myself down just to make art," she says. "I'm more realistic about the music industry. I want to make music and keep creating, but I don't want to keep myself down."
It's not that she doesn't take music any less serious, it's just that she's found a balance that suits her best.
"Taking on a new profession does not take anything away from my art. The relationship I have with music these days has evolved on its own," Somers says. "I was just getting tired of being poor really, so I decided to get an education and give myself the gift of being more self sufficient in life. I will always be an artist but I don't want to rely on music to put food on my table and pay a mortgage. The need to turn it into a job seems to ruin my relationship with it. I prefer loving it."