Amelia Curran challenged herself by eschewing minimalism
To her delight, Amelia Curran realized she didn’t have to worry about staying within traditional folk boundaries when she began working on her upcoming sixth release, Spectators. Breaking new ground made sense when you looked at how 2009’s Hunter Hunter became an underground hit.
“I’m very busy, to where I wouldn’t want to add anything to my schedule,” the singer-songwriter relates with a laugh, on the line from her home in Halifax. “Hunter Hunter got to the point where I felt like I had to follow it around for two years. That album really grew legs, and then sort of ran off once it started getting accolades and its lovely reviews. That meant that I had to spend a lot of time chasing it, playing shows to support it. I had to catch up to its audience.”
Curran grew artistically with Hunter Hunter, the songs moving beyond folk to dabble in sedated Americana and sepia-toned pop. That her career started to blossom with the record was no accident; she’d done plenty of groundwork, starting off a decade ago as a busker and then going the DIY, girl-with-a-guitar route with early self-released efforts. She began to build a buzz with her fourth outing, 2006’s War Brides.
“I always used to call War Brides the little album that could,” Curran says. “It was a real bedroom project, you know? Then that one grew wings, as they say. So with this next one, it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen.”
What fans will hear when Spectators is released in October is an artist who’s determined to keep moving forward. Where War Brides offered up plaintive, barefoot folk, Hunter Hunter found Curran evolving musically, adding low-key strings, accordion, and banjo to the mix.
Spectators, Curran promises, continues her growth as an artist.
“There’s a lot more going on,” she suggests. “My past records have always embraced minimalism. I really let go of that this time. Which was, um, scary. I’ve got a four-piece string section, and a four-piece horn section, and multiple drum tracks. Once you get into adding lots of stuff, it’s hard to stop.”
Her reasons for challenging herself were simple.
“I think everyone has the fear of making the same album over and over again,” Curran says. “I didn’t want to do that.”
Just as important, she argues, is making a conscious attempt to go her own way as a songwriter, which explains why Curran is more at ease discussing her favourite authors (hello, John Steinbeck) than who gets the most play on her iPod.
“I find it hard to name influences,” she says. “There are a lot of musicians that I like, but I don’t have any experience of trying to emulate any of them. I never know what to say when someone asks me about influences, so I don’t. I’d rather talk about how I love novels. I’m reading constantly.”
Such is her love for the written word that Curran has, on occasion, thought about branching out beyond music. It wouldn’t be the first time she’s done so—in the past, she’s dabbled in theatre as a performer and a playwright.
“I’ve definitely thought about writing a book, but I’m certain I don’t have the endurance for that,” she says with a laugh. “Maybe what I could do is write a novelette, and then write that novelette several times over.”