Royal Mountain/Secretly Canadian
Lovers, friends, family, strangers. There’s a lot of love to write about. And it’s all the more powerful on Le Ren’s debut album, Leftovers, produced by Chris Cohen, that the songs she sings, about all these different kinds of love, have a quintessentially timeless sound. How many friends, mothers, lovers have felt the same feelings that Lauren Spear sings about on her compelling collection of folk songs? “For I have seen the day / Where love is in the gloaming / And we are on its wing.”
Spear, who is an accomplished singer and songwriter out of Montreal, collaborated with artists around North America, and recorded in a rented house in Portland in April of 2021, after halting production because of the pandemic. During the conception of the album, she “created a physical quilt to mirror the assemblage of stories that comprise the album: a coming-of-age collage that collects over four years of past experiences and finds their present meaning.” These songs feel lived in, feel totally personal, though it is a rich and varied collection. Leftovers, quilt squares, whatever it is, it fits together perfectly.
And Spear’s voice is the perfect medium to communicate the pieces with: a hearty, lilty, from-the-mountains sounding voice that bridges the gap between modern acts like Adrianne Lenker, Jessica Pratt, and Laura Marling and older, tried-and-true acts like Joni Mitchel, Vashti Bunyan, and Karen Dalton. Her voice feels like it pulls even further back, centuries and centuries in time. So that when she sings, “Don’t make me weep / like a willow / Oh, I’ve been blue for far too long,” she carries generations of pain in her emotive singing.
Whether she’s ruminating on her love life on songs like “Who’s Going To Hold Me Next?” or “Was I Not Enough?” or she’s giving voice to the deepest of human bonds on songs like “I Already Love You” about being a mother and “Annabelle and MaryAnne, which features the wonderful vocalist Jess Showman from Tenci, she strikes a nerve with what we all, particularly, women (mothers, sisters, friends) feel.
It is fitting that Spear put together a quilt to coincide with the album. Like quilts, there is a homemade, commemorative, timeless feel to this album. It is like comfort food, it is the sustenance that memories and shared experiences give to us. “It’s so much easier by your side / We’ll be alright.” Albums like these are accomplices to us, comfort and companionship. Leftovers are some of my favorite foods, and these songs, too, might become some of your favorite songs.
Order Leftovers by Le Ren HERE