Piano-woman Sarah Slean introduces her ambitious double-LP Land and Sea
As Sarah Slean makes her way across Canada in support of her latest album, her itinerary includes many expected stops like Montreal. But in between these shows, she’s also scheduled to perform at a re-imagined 19th-century schoolhouse in Burnstown, a quiet hamlet nestled in the Ottawa Valley. "I’ve been hearing for a while that there was this amazing new place that’s really small," she says, "but the concert experience there was just so incredible for fans and for performers alike."
It’s this pursuit of variety that prompted Slean to discover a renewed sense of excitement towards recording and performing music. Her ambitious new project, a double album called Land and Sea, provided her with an opportunity to explore distinct musical and emotional contrasts. While Land is driven by a clear pop/rock flavour, Sea is more of an exercise in the ethereal. But Slean insists that there is unity in the juxtaposition between the two. "I see them as two separate albums, but I feel like it’s an indivisible whole. I could not have released one of them separately… The contrast of the mood makes each of them come into relief."
For practical reasons, we can expect that the majority of songs on this tour will come from Land. While Slean has adapted a few songs from Sea to work without the accompaniment of a string section, she’s reluctant to strip away such a central part of their character. But she hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a dedicated Sea tour. "My agent has gone to work," says Slean, "and he’s coming up with all kinds of fascinating, thrilling offers with anything from large national orchestras to smaller chamber orchestras – it’s exciting."
Part of her excitement is also due to her collaboration with producers Joel Plaskett and Jonathan Goldsmith. Each of them pushed Slean to embrace uncertainty and to take risks in the recording process. She recounts Goldsmith’s advice, saying, "You can’t write songs about the profundity of the mystery and not invite it into the recording."
Sarah Slean is eager to continue pursuing this sense of mystery, and so far the experience of touring has left her with an appetite for more. "It’s incredible," she says, "I’m not going to leave it three years again."
At La Sala Rossa