A Mother’s Inspiration and a Fresh Approach Guide Jenn Grant’s “Compostela”
“My mother died in 2012, and her spirit lends herself well to Compostela,” Canadian singer-songwriter Jenn Grant says of her latest release. “I meet people again and again who tell me how this album has been a healing tool for them in some way. I’ve noticed it more than I ever have, and it feels like there is a vibration that is occurring between these songs and the listeners. I feel lucky to be a part of that.”
That would be quite an accomplishment by any standard, but one needn’t rely on Grant’s word as verification. Since its stateside release on May 19, the album has garnered this young artist a number of notable accolades, among them, a pair of 2015 Juno award nominations in the categories of Adult Alternative Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. The Canadian Broadcast Corporation proclaimed it one of the “30 Best Canadian albums of 2014,” with the result that its lead single, “No One’s Gonna Love You (Quite Like I Do),” spent six weeks on the CBC 2 Top 20.
“I’ve been slowly building my career with each record since it began in 2007,” Grant suggests. “But there was a shift with the making of Compostela. I began working with a new team, and I also took more care, precision, and thought with the making of this album. I spent a year taking the time to step away from it and going back to it – and to the songs – and in the end, the feeling that I wanted to achieve with this album feels complete. However, albums do not feel fully complete until they are released (and) songs feel unfinished until they are let go and can mean something to someone else!”
Grant knows of what she speaks. She dedicated an entire month to composing the material for the album, taking refuge in a camper near Lake Echo, Nova Scotia. The title was inspired by the last words her mother spoke to her, “I will meet you in Spain,” which Grant then took to mean “Compostela,” a Spanish word that translates as “field of stars” or “star field.” It’s a phrase borne of the legend that the dust of the pilgrims who walk the El Camino make up the stars that form the Milky Way.
Indeed, the new album is a star-studded effort, one that finds Grant teamed with such stellar special guests as Ron Sexsmith, Rose Cousins, Sarah Harmer, Doug Paisley, Kim Harris, and Toronto composer Jonathan Goldsmith, among others.
A native of Prince Edward Island in the Canadian Maritimes, Grant first started writing music while in her teens and took to the stage after receiving her degree in fine arts at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Over the course of the eight years and five albums since, Grant has attracted considerable acclaim at home.
The testimonials are equally emphatic. “She’s one of the best singers in the world right now,” CBC Radio declared. “If you can resist this, you are made of stone,” The Toronto Star insisted. Skot Nelson here at No Depression also chimed in back in 2013, calling her work “deeply personal and incredibly accessible work that draws you into a world full of love, loss, sadness, and flights of happiness.”
“My early influences were leaked to me from my parent’s favorite records that played in our house as a kid,” Grant recalls. “Willie Nelson, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Patsy Cline. These were some of the voices I fell in love with as a child and still hold a deep connection to me as an adult.” She goes on to cite First Aid Kit, Father John Misty, Rodriguez, Damien Jurado, Jenny Lewis and Florence and The Machine among the artists she enjoys these days.