Within minutes of listening to her music, one can tell that singer/songwriter Hayley Reardon is an old soul. Her passion for writing folk songs began at an early age and she soon began carving out her own niche in the storied Cambridge, Massachusetts folk scene. The release of her 2012 debut album, “Where The Artists Go,” resulted in national acclaim with features on syndicated public radio show “Art of the Song,” NPR affiliate WBUR in Boston, and Boston Globe Magazine. The Boston Globe went on to name her ‘Bostonian of the Year,’ in celebration of not only her music, but her work to use it as a vessel for empowerment. Her 2014 release, “Wayfindings,” expanded her International footprint, receiving praise from Paste, Performer Magazine, Americana UK and American Songwriter who referred to its first single, “Numb & Blue” as a “melancholy little masterpiece.”
With a voice that is distinctively rich and a contemplative sincerity in her songwriting, Reardon has far more in common with Patty Griffin, Lucinda Williams, and Tracy Chapman than many of today’s young pop singer/songwriters, and her songs offer lyrical and melodic weight far beyond her years. Her latest album, entitled “Good” is the next exciting chapter in what is sure to be an illustrious career. The highly-anticipated album, scheduled for release October 28, is a dazzling celebration of a period of immense growth and change, as lush arrangements surround the sincere rawness of Hayley’s writing. As is the case with many classic records of the past, the songs created for “Good” were forged through life experience of which she has had plenty. In the time since the release of her previous album, this artist on the rise has parted ways with her previous record label, fell in love, moved to Nashville, and begun college – all of which stoked her creative fire!
Produced by Lorne Entress (Lori McKenna, Catie Curtis, Erin McKeown), the album was entirely funded by her dedicated fans in a highly successful Kickstarter campaign. “Good” also serves as Reardon’s first fully independent release and third studio collaboration with Entress. In support of the exciting new release, Reardon will play a special hometown show at Club Passim in Cambridge on Sunday, November 27. She’ll also play select dates in San Francisco, New York City, New Hampshire, Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville, where she is enrolled in the music curriculum at Belmont University.
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Hayley Reardon to discuss her musical roots, the challenges of bringing “Good” to life, her creative evolution and much more.
What are you first memories of music in your life?
My sister is 7 years older than me and has sang for as long as I can remember. My earliest memory would probably be one of her singing.
Going all the way back to the beginning, how did you first start getting involved with the arts?
I remembering buying a “songwriting journal” at my elementary school book fair. It had bright colorful pages and different prompts for writing. I started messing around with little songs and poems around that time but wasn’t until middle school that I picked up my first guitar and started actually learning to play and write more seriously.
What can you tell us about the process of finding your creative voice?
I feel as though that process is ongoing. I think every song I write is an exploration of some new facet or element of my creative voice — or at least my best songs are. The ones where I stretch myself. So I think that process so far has just been trying new things all the time and running with the ideas that feel authentic and true to me.
Your songs can be intense and very personal. Was it a difficult process to get to a point where you were able to bare your soul?
When I first started writing and sharing my songs, the idea of them being “too personal” or the feeling of “sharing too much” was the farthest thing in my mind. I just wrote and wrote and wrote and didn’t think too much about any part of it. The older and more serious about music I get, however, I do notice that it takes a certain effort to preserve and defend that personal, intense quality without getting wrapped up in the fear that comes with sharing one’s inner most feelings.
Who were some of the performers and people behind the scenes who helped to shape the artist we see today?
Don White has been an incredible mentor to me and taught me so much about artistry, performing, and life.
You are clearly very driven when it comes to your career. What has kept you inspired throughout the years as an artist and fueled your creative fire?
Growth! Being better, trying new things, growing into myself.
You are about to release your highly anticipated new album, “GOOD,” on October 28th. What goals did you have in mind when you started out on the creative process for the album?
It had been a few years since releasing my last project (which wasn’t even a full length CD) and I really wanted to make something that captured all the growth that happened since then.
For fans already familiar with your past work, how does this album compare and contrast?
To me it’s definitely a step forward in whatever direction it is I’m headed. You can hear my past work in this project, and I’d like to think it also offers a taste of where I’m going next. It’s a pretty honest reflection of a transitional time in my life.
Was there anything you wanted to try that you hadn’t been able to in the past?
Yes! Lorne and I had been hoping to get this particular group of players together for a project and finally were able to with “Good.”
You work alongside producer Lorne Entress for this track. You have worked together in the past as well. How did the two of you originally cross paths?
I reached out to Lorne when I was looking to make my first record because I was a fan of some of the albums he had produced.
What has he brought out of your creatively over the years and specifically for this album?
So much! Lorne is incredibly gifted — not only with music but with people, too. He knows exactly what to say and how to pull the best performance possible out of a person. And he puts his whole heart into the music he creates. I couldn’t have asked for a more invested parter in the making of this project.
The album was fan funded by way of a Kickstarter campaign. What was that experience like for you?
Planning/overseeing/promoting the Kickstarter was a whole lot of work — almost as much work as making the record itself. I can’t say I’d be ready to launch another Kickstarter campaign anytime soon, but I can say how special and inspiring it made the entire process knowing I had a team of fans and friends backing me every step of the way. Having people rally around this project before they even knew what the music would sound like really motivated us to make the best, most inspired work we could.
What can you tell us about the songwriting process for your music? What has changed and what has stayed the same over the years?
This is something I think about a lot. Becoming a better writer means becoming more critical, fully fleshing out my stories, revisiting and revising songs even after initial completion, etc. That’s my craft and my job and I take it seriously. There’s a part of me, however, that also considers it a part of my job to defend the 13 year old version of my self who wrote songs in her bedroom and didn’t think too hard about it. There’s a balance one must find in order to maintain that innate rawness while honing and developing their craft.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in bringing the album to life?
Initially the biggest challenge was funding the project until my Kickstarter super heroes came to the rescue on that front. After that it was time. I had a summer to begin the record in MA before moving to Nashville for my first year of college. Logistically things got pretty tricky.
You have lived with these songs for awhile now. Which of the songs on “GOOD” resonate with you the most?
Good, Ghost, and Work More.
You learn something new with each project you undertake. What were the biggest lessons you learned this time around?
Not to spread myself too thin. Pick one thing and do it well. Then the next thing, then the next, etc.
When you look back on your body of work, how do you feel you have most evolved as an artist since you first started professionally?
My voice has definitely grown a lot. Of course, the thing I take the most pride in, however, is the writing. I’d like to think I am a better songwriter than I was when I made my first record.
You have some select dates on the horizon. What can fans expect from you in a live setting?
I’m playing a lot of these shows solo — which is actually my favorite way to do it. It’s warm and intimate and reflects some of my favorite live music experiences which are often intimate singer/songwriter shows.
You have made some gorgeous videos over the years. When might we expect a new one?
Hopefully sometime after the record release!
What do you consider the best parts of taking the show on the road, so to speak?
Well I love traveling and I love playing my songs for people — so
As an artist, so many things can be said about the current state of music. What excites being an artist in this day and age?
It used to be that you had to drive to a certain city and play a show or do a radio interview to reach that particular market. Now we have every demographic at our finger tips. Obviously fan building is hard no matter what decade you live in and nothing beats discovering music live and in person, but as both an artist and a fan it’s amazing to know there are so many opportunities for discovery and connection that didn’t exist 15 years ago.
Where do you see yourself headed musically in the future — with short and long term?
I’m living in Nashville now and exploring life down here. Hoping to keep playing as much as possible and release a follow up EP sometime in the new year. I figure as long as I’m busy making something I’m doing alright — so that is my goal for both the short and long term.
What is the best way for fans to help support you at this stage in your career?
Share the music — send it to your friends, add it to a Spotify playlist, use it in the background of your YouTube cooking tutorial, anything & everything helps! I’m all about the grassroots, word-of-mouth kind of fan building. Also, come out to a show or send family & friends out if I’m playing in the area.
What is the best lesson we can take away from your journey so far?
Vulnerability feeds vulnerability — people react to realness. Our world is hungry for it.
Where are the best places for us to following you continuing adventures online?
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and my website, www.hayleyreardon.com. You can sign up for my email list there, too!
Catch Hayley Reardon on tour:
11/04 – Cranford, NJ @ Alleum Yoga
11/05 – New York, NY @ Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 3)
11/18 – San Francisco, CA @ The Battery
11/19 – San Francisco, CA @ FogHouse Concerts
11/20 – Boulder Creek, CA @ Lille æske
11/27 – Cambridge, MA @ Club Passim
04/14 – Marblehead, MA @ Me & Thee Coffeehouse
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Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.