Alanna Boudreau is a name you want to remember. Her poetic lyrics and soothing melodies, which were once the exclusive privilege of her family and friends, have begun to reach a global fanbase. Two summers ago, after many requests, she finally made her debut as an artist by recording a 7 track EP entitled Hands in the Land. With this EP, Alanna was noticed in Nashville, Tennessee, where her original songs caught the attention of LoveGoodMusic. Through this company, she spent the last year touring the US with several talented musicians, playing show after show and sharing her original music with new fans. After the unbridled success of her first studio session, she returned to the studio and reemerged with what is now her first full-length album, Hints & Guesses. Until Hints & Guesses is available to own through iTunes on September 4th, I am excited to be able to offer you a glimpse into this beautiful album before it is released.
Throughout the album, you’ll find that Alanna incorporated a variety of instruments into her creative vision as a singer-songwriter. Aside from the guitar, you’ll hear drums, bass, piano, and even a horn section! Each song has it’s own style and influence, down to the very rhythm it’s built upon. ‘Heart Of The World’ demonstrates Celtic influences, while ‘My Fella’ is reminiscent of a retro doo-wop number. From the slow and contemplative to the upbeat and toe-tapping compositions, this album shows Alanna’s flexibility as an artist. When asked which song is her favorite, Alanna says,
“I don’t think I could say I have a favorite song on the album! The favorite question has always been a bit of a tough one for me. I could never say if I prefer mountains to the ocean, for instance: they inspire and capture different parts of me, parts that I can’t compare. I guess the same goes for these songs. Each of them shows some distinct room in my soul, some room that leads into another one, and so on, and so forth.”
Although she couldn’t bring herself to pick a favorite song on the album, Alanna did set one song apart.
“The song “Solitudes” is one that is especially close to my heart,” she says, “because it expresses a theme that I often ponder on. It is the experience of recognizing, sometimes very painfully, that no other human can ever fully fill you, nor are they meant to. The bittersweet recognition of one’s own solitude – a solitude which sets us as humans apart from the rest of creation, a solitude which makes us resplendent with dignity, but which simultaneously leaves us aching in our bones. I find it interesting and mysterious how, the more intimate we become with another person, the more distinct we and they become. Union is not fusion: it is, rather, to become one without ceasing to be distinct. Sometimes, though, being distinct scares us! We think it would be easier to just melt away into someone else. But that’s not love: love never annihilates our personality. It heightens and transfigures and amplifies it, whilst stripping away those fears that obscure it.”
My favorite track on the album would have to be ‘Dappled Things’, which is a song she wrote for the famous poem ‘Pied Beauty’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins. I was overjoyed to find how Alanna was able to perfectly compose music to what I’ve long considered a most treasured poem. Even her use of this poem in the album truly encapsulates the entire impression of her captivating musical style.
In this new album, Hints & Guesses, Alanna offers her characteristic soul-quenching lyrics, which peer deep through human experience into the essence of life as she lives it.
“Many things inspired this album,” Alanna says. “The word that comes most readily to mind, though, is ‘encounter.’ These songs were written after various encounters throughout my life – encounters with other people and their stories; encounters with beauty; encounters with suffering and healing; encounters with love – love that is difficult, love that is unflinching, love that is right smack-dab in the middle of pain and that gives way to new life.”
Alanna describes her musical influences as: Paul Simon, Norah Jones, Eric Clapton, Ella Fitzgerald, Eva Cassidy, Eric Hutchinson, The Beatles, Jason Mraz, John Denver, Billy Joel, Sufjan Stevens, and The Weepies. While considering these influences, I still find Alanna’s music unmistakeably her own, with a vocal style unparalleled in it’s unique and timeless cadence. Another strength she has as an artist lies within her beautiful use of the English language through her songwriting. Both musically and lyrically, you’ll find that Alanna reciprocates all the beauty she discovers in the world around her, and steps forth to share it with anyone ready to listen.
Listening to this album is like opening a handwritten letter from the lovely Alanna herself. On September 4th, do yourself a favor and find this beautiful album on iTunes. You won’t regret it.