Validation hangover

Kingston is one of three stops on Holly McNarland's tour

Run Body Run is Holly McNarland’s first album released without the help of a record label.
Run Body Run is Holly McNarland’s first album released without the help of a record label.

As she poured herself a cup of coffee, Holly McNarland told me the story of the frightening blackout ice storm of ’96.

“We were playing at AJ’s Hangar and the power went out,” she said, referring to the defunct nightclub space, which now houses Ale House. “It was a pretty rowdy crowd, but somehow we got everyone to quiet down and listen to us play acoustically.”

Sixteen years later, the Juno award-winning singer is back in Kingston with her new album Run Body Run. This is McNarland’s first album without a label representing her.

“There’s no programming. The songs are stripped down and not overproduced,” she said.

McNarland added that her newest album is her favourite so far. “It’s something that I would buy.” The new album has a mix of melancholy and upbeat songs and the occasional breakup ballad that makes the listener want to boycott the opposite sex.

“ ‘After I’m Gone’ is my favourite song. That was super sad. I was in the middle of a separation with my ex, who was a douchebag, and it was a dark period for me,” she said.

McNarland said the album has songs that were chosen from five years of music since the singer/songwriter took time off to have her two kids, Nege and Coco.

“It took about a year to make the album because I didn’t really have child care and my partner works,” she said.

Now that the album is done and her kids are in school, McNarland said she doesn’t know what to do with herself.

“I just keep walking around the house cleaning,” she said. “And I hate cleaning.”

Kingston is one of three stops in three days for Holly and her band with the new album.

“Playing live is my favourite part. It’s the crowds — you end up with a validation hangover,” she said.

The last time Holly played a Kingston gig was for her twenty-ninth birthday.

“We played with Wide Mouth Mason on my birthday,” she said. “We played Ottawa a few years ago and we didn’t have a Kingston show, but we drove through because my drummer is from Kingston and he took us to this great poutine joint,” she said, later remembering that it was Smoke’s Poutinery.

The music industry is no money tree these days, but that doesn’t stop Holly from playing her music.

“There’s not a shitload of money to be made anymore, but I haven’t stopped. I’m still gonna keep plugging away at it,” she said.

Holly McNarland plays the Mansion on Thursday at 8 p.m.

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