“Music is my anti-freeze; it keeps my engine running,” said Elspeth Tremblay at her CD release party Thursday, July 10, 2014 at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (1020 South Street, Philadelphia). The Australian-born thirty-something artist performed songs from Return.
She began with “It’s Happening,” fitting as the song details a move from Brooklyn to Philadelphia with her fiancée Melanie. “After I met Melanie, I felt like the fight was over and I picked up the guitar again.” Tremblay had set down her guitar at age 17 to pursue a life where she could “be taken seriously.”
For 12 years, she stumbled through relationships with women ten years older, wore all black, attended film school. None provided her emotional outlet, but she poured herself into these so she wouldn’t have to expose herself emotionally. “I had nothing to go home to, nowhere to put my heart.”
Relationships emptied her. Various jobs offered no fulfillment. From managing a bakery to working temp jobs in offices, nothing made her feel useful. “When I feel under-utilized, I feel useless and depressed.”
Finally, music became her medicine. Writing lyrics allowed her to express emotions, and when she began performing again, she felt like she was giving back. Tremblay’s mellow, soulful voice holds notes like a barrel holds drops of rain or a basket holds loaves of fresh, steaming bread. She sings with smoky breathiness than thins like wispy feathers on the high notes. Her voice blends with the scrape of her fingers across the guitar strings.
A song like “Seashells and Glass,” written about a friend who died too young, is perfect for a road trip down the coast with a best friend, when white clouds dot a blue sky and golden sands and frothy waves warm feet free of sandals. This song is a reminder that loved ones live on in memories and music. Perhaps “Trouble” is a song that encourages the pursuit of the dream job, and what better way to garner courage than on a bike ride through fields of sunflowers and lavender, a picnic tucked in the basket with a blanket to spread under a willow tree, and an afternoon to wish and plan?
The lyrics of “Somewhere” and “Making a Living” fulfill lonely rainy days on a window seat watching the sky weep, dew drops sliding down speckled windows when there is nothing more to do than lean back and pillow the soul in an artist who understands pain and provides compassion and connection through her songs.
Return can be the soundtrack of a walk on a crisp fall day, when golden trees shed their leaves and boots crunch over leaves scattered across slate sidewalks. Thick sweaters and blue jeans and Tremblay’s voice ward off the chill, and burning bonfires act as nature’s incense.
The album offers warmth on a winter morning when fat flakes fall and a mug of coffee is at hand, steam curling from the rim and filling the air with scents of ground coffee, cinnamon and nutmeg.
“There must be a reason for pain, because if there isn’t, then pain helps no one. I turn my pain into art which can help others who feel the same,” said Tremblay. “I have feelings I can’t express; I could talk myself blue and never fully explain them. So I create art. I paint to illuminate what I’m seeing. I paint to ignite beauty.” In much the same way, she writes lyrics and composes tunes to give sound that releases unspeakable pain.
“I write songs so that others can connect, so they realize they’re not alone.”
Purchase Elspeth Tremblay’s Return via her website at www.elspethtremblaymusic.com, or on Amazon, or iTunes.
By Staff Writer Jann Simmons Andiamo