(Jessica Rhaye. Photo contributed.)
Six years passed between Jessica Rhaye’s debut self-titled album and her 2006 follow-up, Short Stories.
She wasn’t about to let that happen again, and the singer-songwriter from Saint John has proved that by releasing her third album, Good Things, only three years after her sophomore effort.
“There was a huge gap between the first record and Short Stories, but I think that was because I was in school, and I think I really needed to take the time and mature and really own my craft of songwriting,” she tells EastCoastNoise. “And I wrote a lot of tunes that didn’t make Short Stories, so I had a lot of tunes left over, so the whole songwriting process didn’t take quite as long.
“But yeah, I’d definitely like to keep moving at this pace.”
Rhaye’s third album is a more acoustic-based, stripped-down affair than Short Stories was. The new album, released independently only a few weeks ago, came out of a tour of England Rhaye did with New Brunswick’s Matt Andersen and Nova Scotia’s Dave Gunning a few years ago.
Usually when Rhaye performs, she does so with just her vocals and an acoustic guitar, so she decided to take that approach on Good Things.
“I was (in England) by myself, and we were each doing our own solo acoustic shows,” Rhaye says. “It was going along really well, and I think people were looking to buy the music as they had heard it. And at the time, I was playing a lot of the new tunes which are on the new record. That’s kind of where it started. I thought maybe it was time that I record something that sounds like what I do acoustic.”
Rhaye’s earlier efforts weren’t over-produced, but they had a bit of a pop sheen that is less present on the new record.
The new album, produced by Ed Woodsworth in Cape Breton, features a few of Rhaye’s earlier tunes which she wanted to revamp a bit, as well as a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses,” which has been a staple of Rhaye’s live show for some time.
“I brought back Time Out, which was on my very first record. I just thought it would work well with the new tunes, and I kind of thought it was time to bring it back and, I don’t know, kind of make it a little bit more mature sounding, which I think it does … (I) got rid of the children’s laughing. And I brought back Holding Out (from Short Stories) too, which is kind of funny. It’s probably the version which we should have started out with first because it’s kind of the root of the song. On Short Stories, we did the more produced, almost dance version of the song.”
Rhaye wrote some of the new album herself, but she relied on help from songwriter friends – or “song doctors” as she calls them – Dave Gunning, Ken Tobias and Asif Illyas (Mir) for others she co-wrote.
And for the title track, Rhaye met up with legendary Canadian songwriter Ron Sexsmith.
“I was definitely nervous,” she says of working with Sexsmith when he was in New Brunswick for some gigs. “But once I got talking to him and kind of settled into the songwriting mode it was no big deal really. It was a big deal, but it wasn’t as nerve-wracking as I thought it would be. He really brought that song around. I had a verse and sort of a chorus and he really helped me fix up the chorus and he helped me write the second verse and he wrote the bridge, so he really brought that song around.”
With Good Things now out, Rhaye has some summer concert dates lined up, a proper fall tour and even some possible gigs planned for outside the east coast.
She also has a DVD called Good Things From The Stage in the works. Produced by Hemmings House Pictures, it will feature live performances, interview footage and behind-the-scenes clips from the making of Good Things.
“We were in Riverview last June when we did the live recording part of it. It was originally just supposed to be an EPK, a press release we would send around to different people to try and book shows so they could see what I do live.”
The project quickly turned into something more expansive that Rhaye hopes will be released as soon as next month.
A sample of the new DVD along with tons of other information on Rhaye can be found at her new online home here.
Rhaye’s upcoming dates include:
June 26 – The Mason Jar Speak Easy & Cabaret – Sussex, NB
July 4 – Harmony House – Hunter River, PEI
July 11 – Salty Jam Festival – Saint John, NB
Aug. 16 – Outdoor Ampitheatre – Cambridge Narrows, NB
Sept 2. – The Carleton – Halifax, NS
Nov. 13 – Brush of Hope Event at the Delta Brunswick – Saint John, NB
Nov. 20 – Capitol Theatre – Moncton, NB