Jann Arden finally discovers freedom
Posted By JANE STEVENSON, Sun Media
Posted 2 hours ago
At age 47, Jann Arden feels free at last.
Thus the title of her new album, Free, her first original studio record in five years, and 10th overall. It went on sale last week.
“(My manager Bruce Allen) wanted me to really think about an album title that spoke a lot about change,” says the Calgary singer-songwriter, who plays a string of Canadian dates starting next month that won’t conclude until February.
“(The title Free) is not the most original thing in the world, but it’s a great word. And it’s certainly a word fitting for the times that we’re living in right now. I mean, everyone’s looking for their own version of freedom, I guess, from their jobs or their relationships or how they feel about themselves.”
Since releasing her 2007 covers album, Uncover Me, the biggest change in Arden’s career has been hiring Vancouver-based veteran Allen (Bryan Adams, Anne Murray) to manage her. The two were longtime friends previously. They’d have dinner a couple of times a year going back at least a decade.
“He said, ‘You need to let me manage you. Rumour on the street … is that you’re unmanageable,'” Arden says. “And maybe I have been.
“I’ve been managing myself for 20 years (through a management company). You just come to a fork in the road and you take it. There’s nothing that made me go, ‘I gotta get away from these people.’ I just thought I feel stifled and I need to make changes.”
At the time, Arden says she wasn’t even sure how she felt about making music anymore.
“I just thought, ‘Like, am I interested in music?’ ‘Cause I just don’t want to put it out for the sake of doing it. That’s no good for anybody. But I think I was disillusioned. And I was tired of making all the decisions.”
After Arden called Allen for advice, he rang her up in July 2008 when he was in Calgary, seeking a meeting.
“He says, ‘You’re just an untapped talent. You haven’t reached your potential. And you’ve been (screwing) around too much and you’ve got to be more focused.’
Arden, for her part, agreed.
“I think I’ve been lazy. I think I’ve done just as much as I need to make it work.”
After Allen spent two-and-a-half years off and on in Nashville co-producing the SHeDaisy record with old friend Bruce Leitl, he wound up working with Arden on Free using Nashville musicians.
“It was a really organic way of getting there,” Arden says. “I knew it wasn’t even going to be a country record, which it isn’t, but all those organic elements — they work themselves perfectly into anything, whether it’s urban or hip hop. I think you’re going to hear more and more … hybrid sounds.”
Over the past year, Arden also got to record a duet, Angel in the Wings, on Olivia Newton-John’s most recent album, at the suggestion of the song’s composer, Amy Sky — “I could hug Amy for that,” Arden says — and has been corresponding via e-mail with Bette Midler on a couple of songs, after meeting the Divine Miss M backstage at Midler’s Las Vegas show.
“She said, ‘Send me some songs,’ and so it took me a month to get the courage up to send a song. I’ve sent her a few I’ve never recorded, so we’ll see what happens. She was really lovely and I left there thinking, ‘You know, I’ve admired her my whole life, and listened to her records, and she didn’t let me down.'”
SELECT DATES ON TOUR:
Nov 18-19: Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver
Nov 23-24: Jack Singer Concert Hall, Calgary
Nov 25-26: Northern Jubilee, Edmonton
Nov 30-Dec 1: Centennial Concert Hall, Winnipeg
Jan 16-17: National Arts Centre, Southam Hall, Ottawa
Jan 19: Sudbury Arena, Sudbury
Jan 20: John Labatt Centre, RBC Theatre, London
Jan 21: Hamilton Place Theatre, Hamilton
Jan 24: Centre In The Square, Kitchener
Jan 25: K-ROCK Centre, Kingston
Jan 27-28: Massey Hall: Toronto