After winning NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert in 2016, singer-songwriter and violinist Gaelynn Lea is releasing a new album, Learning How to Stay, on September. 7.
Lea’s beautiful, resonant voice anchors the eclectic album, at times joyous, at times haunting, and ranging in musical influences from Celtic to folk, bluegrass, pop and country. Lea’s previous album have mostly been recorded live with the use of a looping pedal, a device that allows a single musician to layer tracks on top of each other. For Learning How to Stay, Lea wanted to build more complex structures that required more people and instruments. “I had already done a couple albums with another guitar player, and I knew I wanted to try something different for this album,” she says.
As a Duluth, Minnesota, native, Lea partnered up with fellow Minnesota-based musicians Al Church and Dave Mehling, who added guitars, keyboards and bass to accompany Lea’s vocals and violin. They began recording in July with a full band in a Minneapolis studio. “This studio experience was a challenge for me,” she says. “At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it, but I really liked it.”
Lea says the process of working with a band helped her grow as a musician and have more trust in her decisions about the musical direction of each song. “Obviously, we ha