December 23rd, 2010

Carmen Townsend: Out On A Limb

Review written by Krissi Weiss

It’s night time in Cape Breton, (a small Island of the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada), when I speak to Carmen Townsend. Her childlike and playful voice sounds nothing like the raw and melodic warble I heard on her debut album, Waitin’ & Seein’.  Open and excited from the start, I could tell this was going to be a relaxed conversation. After rehashing her experiences on the band’s earlier visit to Australia in June, I ask about the making of Waitin’ & Seein’.

“Well it was wonderful,” Townsend enthuses. “We went to Connecticut in the United States to record at Carraige House Studios. We were there for about two weeks and then we came back to Canada to track it. There were a lot of people involved in the project and we were lucky to have so much support around it. We definitely did take our time with the release but we just wanted to make sure we had all of our ducks in a row so when it did come out we could really hit hard with it.”  Hitting hard is certainly what she has done, generating international interest and rave reviews for the debut. [Rave’s own Matt Thrower awarded it a modest ***1/2]

Townsend explains that as the band fell into place, the songs appeared to take on a new life and develop a fresh energy. “We had been playing them for a while in the studio,” she explains. “We wanted to make the live vibe very noticeable, I guess, with the recording, so it was cool to try out different instruments and bells and whistles which gave new life to the songs. Now that this is out we have quite a bit of material for the next album but I’m not sure when we’ll have time, we are just so busy with this record.  Hopefully we can see how far we can take this.”

Mentioning “we” a lot I do clarify whether Townsend is the soul songwriter on this album. “These are my songs, yes,” she says. “A lot of them I had hiding away before I really decided to go out solo and to look for a band to bring them to life. There is one track on the record that was written by Jessie Harris, he has worked with Norah Jones…he saw a video of me on YouTube and got in touch with me and he said ‘I have this great song and I want you to do whatever you want with it’, so I said ‘OK’.”

After 15 years of playing in various bands, and with her solo project firmly in place, I finish off by asking Townsend whether she is comfortable as the frontwoman for her own songs. “It took a long time for me to get the nerve to do it,” she says. “My songs are very personal to me; they’re about experiences I’ve had. I followed my heart and it seems to be working out so far.”
WAITIN’ & SEEIN’ is out now through ABC Music.

This article was originally published in Rave Magazine:

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