Charlotte Cornfield’s new album finds catharsis in illness

Headed to the Grad Club, singer-songwriter shares the stories behind her new sound

Charlotte Cornfield will be playing the Grad Club on March 6.
Photo supplied by Killbeat Music

Psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that causes a painful skin condition reminds Charlotte Cornfield what’s most important in life: family, then work.

Coming to Kingston on March 6, Charlotte Cornfield, a Toronto folk-rock singer-songwriter will perform her new album inspired by her experiences with the illness at The Grad Club on Wednesday alongside her long-time friends Reuben and the Dark.

Cornfield’s full-length album, The Shape of Your Name, is set to release on April 5 and features nine tracks employing a more refined sound than the songs on her previous works.

She’s been working on the new record for the past three years in five different recording sessions, collaborating with her friend and former roommate in Montreal, Nigel Ward, to produce the album.

This project came to life with the help of Broken Social Scene members Brendan Canning, Kevin Drew, and Charles Spearin, as well as assistance from Grammy-winning engineer Shawn Everett.

The Shape of Your Name is a reflection on the relationships that shaped who Cornfield is today.

“It is a really reflective album but not in a nostalgic way,” Cornfield said in an interview with The Journal.  

Cornfield’s album centres on the power of looking back on memories and experiencing nostalgia as a form of melancholy. She described her new record as melancholic and contemplative.

In the album, Cornfield reflects on her time spent in Montreal and New York before returning to

Toronto following her struggle with severe psoriasis that required specific treatment in the city. The Shape of Your Name touches on the trials of persevering through this illness.

“It was a very uncomfortable and isolating experience. I felt like I didn’t have the freedom to go out and go to shows and work on music because there was the self-consciousness aspect of it. But I was also physically uncomfortable all the time,” Cornfield said.

Stemming from her experience with illness, Cornfield’s new music contemplates the worries of the unknown and an inability to control the future.

“I value different things in life now. Comfort and health come first before everything else. I’m going to make the art I want to make and take time with it,” she said.

Through this intense experience, Cornfield found catharsis in her own work and feels a resolve of happiness with who she’s grown to become.   

When she isn’t busy working on her own music, or booking and managing acts at Burdock Music Hall in Toronto, Cornfield enjoys the cathartic release of playing music for other bands.

Since 2010, Cornfield has played drums in Bent by Elephants, saying “it’s very freeing to take a more backseat role and play other people’s music.” It allows Cornfield to perform stress-free and simply enjoy the music of her contemporaries, she added.  

Cornfield toured extensively in North America and Europe, and looks forward to being back on the road and touring this spring and summer alongside Tim Baker, the lead singer and songwriter of Hey Rosetta! On tour, Cornfield will play tracks from both new and old albums, including the single “Andrew.”

A music video for the song was released in January 2019. The muse behind the catchy tune, Andrew, isn’t just one person. He represents any friend who needs to set their priorities straight and remember to slow down and enjoy the important things in life.

She has worked hard to feel comfortable, finding confidence and the ability to trust in herself.

“Sometimes I feel like I am the Andrew character,” Cornfield said. For her, the song serves as a reminder to take a step back when life gets messy. 

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