On Monday night Natasha Duchene was busy recording tracks at her jam space. Nothing out of the ordinary for the Yellowknife-based singer/songwriter - except for the fact that the songs she was working on will be on her second album Kindred, which she will be releasing in less than two weeks. Although she may be running out of time, she wants to make sure that everything sounds just right.
Natasha Duchene, centre, performs alongside Marina Legace on guitar, left, and Charity Cruz on violin at a house concert in Vancouver on May 9. - photo courtesy of Fabian Low
"I'm chasing a deadline but it's good it has to get done," she told Yellowknifer after a long night of recording.
It's been three years since Natasha Duchene released her debut album, Inside Journeys Outside. Since then, Duchene has had more than enough time to reconsider her sound. Whereas the first album was heavily produced with a large arsenal of different instruments, Duchene said that Kindred will deliver a much simpler and stripped down version of herself. Indeed, with nothing but vocals, piano, cello and violin on the new seven-track album, all the instruments are played by Duchene.
"I just realized that there was a magic and authenticity in recording by keeping the arrangement and letting the music speak for itself," she said.
Based on two of the unfinished songs which Duchene shared with Yellowknifer, it sounds like she might be onto something. By allowing the vocals to stand out more, Duchene has crafted a sound that is vaguely reminiscent of Joanna Newsom's airy compositions, with slightly more vocal harmonies.
In addition to working on her own music, Duchene recently started a weekly vocal improvisation group in Yellowknife. Duchene said the group has allowed her to connect with other musicians and become more comfortable with taking risks in her own music.
"That's a big part of my practice now," she said. "It's its own art form. It's incredibly fun and stimulating to creativity and really heart opening."
Duchene will be performing songs from Kindred alongside Andrea Bettger and Anne-Marie Guedon at an album release party at NACC on May 20.