Welcome to Boss Ladies, the review column written by members for members! Today, Lindsay White shares her thoughts on Donna Larsen's latest release “Open the Door."
Humans are a pretty silly lot, don’t you think? We’re always looking to a new year, or a new year’s resolution, or a new set of political leaders to be the easy way out of bad habits, negative experiences, and persisting social struggles. Don’t get me wrong, clean slates are refreshing, goals are great, and staying politically engaged is important, but sometimes in our search for peace and purpose, we forget to look in the simplest place: within. In her new single “Open the Door,” San Diego singer songwriter and guitarist Donna Larsen addresses this conundrum with some spiritually illuminating advice.
Ethereal vocals and meditative tones set the scene as Larsen poses an opening question: “When will we awaken?” A triumphant first chorus follows with the words “Open the door!” repeated eight entrancing times. The listener has now entered a spellbinding audio landscape, which Larsen lushly paints with the help of Josquin Des Pres (production, bass), Scott Gorham (keys), Monette Moreno (Percussion), Randy Hodge and Victoria Belmonte (backup vocals), and Ian Sutton (mixing, mastering).
In each verse, Larsen speaks to an anticipatory sense of inner and outer turbulence (“laws are changing, shifts felt and seen”) while also acknowledging the various factors blocking pathways to peace, like “outdated traditions” and “fear of change.” But ultimately, she encourages her audience to break those barriers by welcoming and trusting themselves and their source, singing “let the light into your being” and “[ask] to be open to receive.” In offering this warm and knowing invitation, Larsen promises listeners all the warm and fuzzy rewards like “love and kindness,” “discovery and realization,” and “soul communication.”
Who doesn’t want to go to this place beyond the metaphorical door? *Hand-raise emoji* Count me in!
The exultant “Open the Door” refrain circles back several times more, reminding us that sometimes, all it takes to arrive on the other side of life's internal and external obstacles is a willingness to approach them with openness, curiosity, and trust. Though Larsen’s words are sage and gentle, there is also a sense of urgency helping to command the listener beyond fear and toward enlightenment. As long as there are musicians like Larsen, you never have to open that door alone.
The accompanying video to “Open the Door” is creatively curated by Dave Preston. It features imagery such as keys, locks, meditating figures, chakras, hypnotic colors, space, stars, and of course, doors. Together, these images speak to spirituality, energy, the cosmos, and a reciprocal flow from self to source. It is empowering, uplifting, and kinda trippy. (I’m not saying you should watch it while mellowing out with some CBD, THC, candles, incense, etc. But I’m not not saying that either.)
When asked what was memorable about creating this project, Larsen said “This music is different from anything I have ever done. It feels expansive and true to my soul. I am so grateful to be able to have worked in concert with such wonderfully talented people who were so willing to help me with my vision for this song!”
She hopes listeners step into that vision, too. “It would be so amazing to know that people who listen to this were able to begin, or be even more inspired on their spiritual path, and/or gain a new way of looking at life or healing.”
For those just “Opening the Door” to Larsen’s music, stay tuned for a full album and don’t forget to check out past projects such as her children’s picture sing-along songbook/CD set called In My Own Backyard. You can also follow along on her website and Facebook!
Image description: White background with black vertical text on left side that reads: "boss ladies." At center is the artwork for Donna Larsen's single (description above). Layered on top of graphic is a yellow circle with black text that reads: "artist Donna Larsen. song/video Open the Door. reviewed by Lindsay White."
Thanks to all who attended our first meetup/check-in of the year! While we're keeping our programming chill in 2021 while we are still on pandemic/vaccine standby and doing our best to honor everyone's capacities, we feel it's important to create a recurring space for virtual check-ins and support. Here's a brief recap of what's going on with some of our members, as well as an update on our first ever Lady Brain Lift Up!
Lady Brain Lift Up Winner:
Congrats to Amy Day, who was chosen randomly (using this fun wheel) as the winner of our first ever Lady Brain Lift Up, which we implemented as a way to continue our mission of supporting members and the community during this time when we are unable to gather physically. Members can accept or direct this gift however they choose! Amy selected We All We Got SD mutual aid, which offers radical community care and food justice support (in solidarity, not charity) to neighbors across Kumeyaay land/San Diego. Click here to read more about this all-volunteer grassroots mutual aid and follow their Instagram to learn more about volunteering, donating, and other ways to get involved. If you'd like to be an ongoing part of the Lady Brain Lift Up, please consider becoming a Lady Brain Lover!
Lizzie Wann recited a beautiful new poem and talked about the next episode of her talk show LifeBeat: Conversations with Purposeful Womxn on Twitch, which will focus on education and feature guests Poppy Fitch, Delia Arancibia, and Charlita Shelton. Tune in today at 6pm on www.twitch.tv/puna_press_live
Ramona Ault is working with Lady Brain member Carissa Renner of The Bold Vocal on keeping her voice strong during the pandemic.
Cathryn Beeks just became a homeowner (!) and continues to hold down the Listen Local Radio fort with weekly virtual song sharing circles, The Game, and her awesome radio show (as well as continuing her role as Lady Brain podcast host).
Julia Sage has been working on some new music with bandmate Matthew Stratchota. Check out her new song “The Fog in My Brain.”
Christina Bernard has also been working on new music with new collaborators. Can’t wait to hear it, and in the meantime you can check out past releases here.
Miki Vale is coming back online after taking a rest and social media break. She shared news of her goal to complete 45 hikes by her 45th birthday. You can also check out Soul Kiss Theater, a space Miki created to uplift and support queer Black womxn through arts, culture, and storytelling.
Mary Bee also put virtual performances on pause for a hot minute to focus on health and recording new music. She told us about this cool service called Musiversal where you can schedule virtual recording sessions with all kinds of instrumentalists and producers, etc. Check it out!
Lindsay White has released a flurry of new singles that speak to issues like love in a pandemic, infertility issues, being hopeful in hopeless situations, and navigating stubborn relationships. She’s also excited to be working with visual creators like Chad Cavanaugh and Shy The Artist on single artwork.
Unison Colthurst is revamping her Songwriter Book Club into a cool new podcast. The next Book Club will be on Sunday, February 28 at 1:30pm, and the book selection is On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. Feel free to message Unison if you’d like to participate!
Amy Day is writing a whole-ass musical about the murder of an Irish Protestant landlord at the height of Ireland’s Great Famine. It’s called The Strokestown Musical and you can follow along here!
If you're a local woman or gender-marginalized creative interested in learning about the Lady Brain Collective membership, please visit our About, FAQ and Join pages to read more! If you're interested in supporting and contributing to our community, please consider becoming a Lady Brain Lover!
1/14/2021 0 Comments
Welcome to Boss Ladies, the review column written by members for members! Below, read Lizzie Wann's take on the latest three singles from Lindsay White.
Image description: Single artwork for "Nothing Worse" features a collage with light gray text that reads "Nothing Worse" overlaid on a grayish blue mountain landscape. In the center, a photo of Lindsay White in a green shirt, propping her chin up with her hand. Bunches of colorful flowers are placed over her face and near her shoulder. Artwork by ShyTheArtist, original photo by Sydney Prather.
We haven’t had any new produced music from Lindsay White since she released “The Funeral” in December 2019. Since then, well, you know, there’s been a pandemic, extreme ongoing social injustice, and an insurrection(!). For most of 2020 and continuing indefinitely, everyone is asked to stay home as much as possible, which makes creating and recording music extremely difficult, but not impossible. As we all made adjustments to how we manage our lives, White ran through the gamut of emotions, often daily, from anxiety and depression to gratitude and yes, happiness. She also made things happen (and if you know White, this is not surprising). She reached out for help from fellow musicians and her Patreon supporters to figure out how to record her own music at home. And through the immense benefit of technology, she was able to remotely collaborate with various musicians, producers, and engineers to fill in some of the blanks. Which leads us to December 2020, a full year since her last official single, when she debuted “Everything But Loving You,” the first in a string of three new singles. Of her production efforts, White says, “It's not perfect or polished, but what feels more important to me than being perfect is: making an effort within my capacity, being proud of any small progress in that effort, being compassionate about any setback in that effort, and letting go of any attachment to other people's perceptions of that effort. It's a good way to fight anxiety. It's also a good way to approach art. And life.” Shortly after this single, White also released “Crickets” (also with a video) and earlier this week, “Nothing Worse.”
“Everything But Loving You" (released 12/8/20)
Her first self-produced release (with mixing from Amelia Sarkisian and additional instrumentation from bandmates Jules Stewart, James Staton, and Steve Nichols), “Everything But Loving You" is a melancholy celebration of the depth of love. It also is a triumphant acknowledgement of feeling defeated. If those things sound incongruous, you haven’t been paying attention. In this tumultuous time of being alive, it’s a delicate balance of feeling like your life has purpose and meaning and feeling like you have any control over those ideas. White admits that this song was written “from a pretty scary place” as anxiety gripped her in the face of, personally and professionally, losing her musical livelihood and, as a human, the community issues of health and a society locked in a battle about which citizens actually matter. But what she was ultimately able to focus on and cling to is the deep and healing relationship she has with her wife, Audrie. In the first verse, White admits she doesn’t want to do any chores, but even beyond that, “i don't wanna be ambitious anymore / you're the only good news / walking in and out the door / so i'm thinking that i could use / a new plan moving forward.” Her new plan is to “quit everything but loving you” because she’s “so good at it.” But then White broadens even that. She sings, “cause i don’t have a fucking clue / how to save the world / but i can love my girl.” But what we know, and I expect White also knows, is that loving her girl is, in fact, how to save the world. This song reminds me of the quiet, beautiful tones of Corrine Bailey Ray, and it’s a well-done debut production effort for White.
“Crickets" (released 12/15/20)
Lindsay White is not afraid to write about subjects that many writers tend to avoid. In the case of “Crickets,” White brings the realities of infertility to the fore. She uses the metaphor of a cricket, which has been seen as a symbol of good luck, but also the silence of asking for something and getting no response. White and her wife have been trying to grow their family, and “Crickets” details their heartbreaking journey of not yet being successful. The video that she released at the same time is a dramatization of the cycles they endured: the medication, the hormone shots, the love, the waiting, the pregnancy tests, the rituals, the tearful realization when White reaches for a tampon; another failed effort. The song is mournful and spare with just her voice and electric guitar in the verses, then more instrumentation and harmonies arriving in the choruses, but it’s subtle and adds just the right amount of extra depth. In the first verse she recalls her mother’s death, and the second verse transitions to her and her wife’s personal journey as they repeatedly endure the negative outcomes of each attempt to conceive a baby. White sings, “mother nature's coming at me / speeding down a westbound track / hanging out a boxcar swinging / a slow motion baseball bat.” But what may be the most heart wrenching lines come in the third verse when White admits, “of course i should have seen this coming / i should have never picked your name.” The song (mixed by Amelia Sarkisian, mastered by Trevor Hamer) captures the intense feeling of loss for something that was never there, just the possibility of it and the inevitable thoughts of what could come after. The song, the performance, and the video are emotional without being melodramatic, and this balance is something at which White excels.
“Nothing Worse" (released 1/7/21)
For this tune penned in 2017, Lindsay White recorded vocals at home and called upon band Jules Stewart for drum tracking and longtime producer Alexander Dausch for additional instrumentation, production and post engineering. As White summarizes, the song is “about that dreaded sense of hope we still somehow manage to feel during incredibly hopeless and lonely times.” Well, if that’s not a song for these times, I’m not sure what is. White is at her lyrical best in this song with clever wordplay like “there's a pillow i keep punching /i always take you lying down,” “i'm fighting the finale, like a novice novelist / i'm pacing like Penelope, hope for my homecoming kiss,” and “i'm testing several theories hoping to prove the same thesis.” But what I like most about this song are White’s phrasings of the lines that are unexpected but extremely pleasant on the ear and the unusual structure of the song. There’s no real chorus per se, but the crux of the song is the line repeated at the ends of the 2nd and 4th verses and at the end of what could be considered the bridge (White is not a huge fan of bridges). The line, which also provides the song’s title, is “there's nothing worse than hoping at a lonesome time like this.” The tasty fills by Dausch after the first chorus lines are also especially lovely and imbue the song with the hope that White hopes still exists. (Spoiler alert: it does.)
These three releases from White are each unique in their subject matter and presentation. White has an impressive style that comes through each song with ease, from her expressive voice to her well-crafted lyrics and her burgeoning production ear, plus with help from talented colleagues, we can look forward to more great music from White in the coming months and years. Purchase and download all three songs, plus her full-length album and other music, writing, and merch directly from her website.
Image description: White background with black vertical text on left side that reads: "boss ladies." At center is the artwork for Lindsay White's single Nothing Worse (see above for description). Layered on top of photograph is a yellow circle with black text that reads: "artist Lindsay White. singles Everything But Loving You, Crickets, Nothing Worse. reviewed by Lizzie Wann."
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