By Mike Dunn
CALGARY – As legends have passed on with a more stunning regularity in the past few years, more and more younger artists are taking the time to delve into their catalogues and find new ways to present the music of the departed. On her new record, Homage, Toronto singer-songwriter Andrea Ramolo chose to dig deep into the catalogue of Leonard Cohen, and in the process, found a new style and sound that fits her more closely than the more straightforward folk-pop that characterized her early releases.
“The idea to do this record of Leonard Cohen’s songs came together pretty organically. When we were full-time touring with Scarlett Jane, Adam Cohen asked us to reprise the part of The Webb Sisters for a number of shows. We ended up staying at Leonard’s house in Montreal for a couple weeks learning the music, and would spend time there when we’d pass through Montreal. Then, a couple years later, shortly after he passed away, I was in Montreal for a show commemorating the 40th anniversary of The Last Waltz. I passed by the house, and saw the memorials people had erected, and suggested we go off script and do one last song in tribute to Leonard. We did “Hey That’s No Way To Say Goodbye” and you could hear a pin drop. I kept doing the song on tour for the last record (the Polaris-prize long-listed Nuda, 2017), and people really loved it. I was asked after one show to come back and do a full night of Leonard Cohen songs, and afterward I thought, maybe I could do a record of his music.”
Working once again with Michael Timmins (Cowboy Junkies), who produced Nuda, Ramolo chose a number of songs to flesh out the record. Timmins’s production is atmospheric-yet-earthy, and Ramolo’s approach showed a new confidence in herself as a player. “I really dug into these songs, and you have to, and I feel like I’ve grown as a musician. I switched to a baritone guitar for Nuda, and got away from my old idea that things had to be fully natural, so I’ve added effects to my own playing and I’m thinking more outside the box. I feel like that’s allowed me to hone in on what my personal sound is. And Michael is just such an amazing producer, he really builds these songs and arrangements into what they become.
Andrea Ramolo passes through Alberta on her Homage release tour, at The Ironwood in Calgary on November 20th, and at The Aviary (with Picture The Ocean) in Edmonton on November 21stAndrea Ramolo, Homage, Picture the Ocean, The Aviary, The Ironwood