Halifax/Cape Breton-based contemporary-roots singer-songwriter and recording artist Leona Burkey is set to release her third album, Groundrush.
In this Q&A, we learn more as she gets set to perform at her album release show at The Carleton, with special guest openers Factory Girls, on December 1.
This interview has been edited.
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I’m a Halifax/Cape Breton-based contemporary-roots singer-songwriter and recording artist, serving up renegade mom-folk for struggling optimists. My music journey has been meandering, but sometimes, if you’re lucky, the second act is the best.
I’ve been carefully refining my renegade folk sound since my back-from-away songwriter debut, The Margaret Marie EP, in 2013 and just doing things the old-fashioned way by slowly and steadily building a community of fans through singular off-the-cuff Cape Breton troubadour style live shows and word of mouth. I haven’t always been able to make “the scene” over the years, but I stayed focused on recording and songwriting the best I could.
Dark horse East Coast Music Awards and Music Nova Scotia nominations for my last record, Sitting Tight, plus mom-time opening up some and a fresh focus on music life post-pandemic, means I’m ready to folk-rock my socks off.
How do you describe Groundrush?
Groundrush is a sister project to Sitting Tight that stretches the boundaries of the contemporary roots genre in style and substance.
Recorded at Ocean Floor with support from almost every other studio in town, it was produced, mixed, and engineered by my music compadre AJH Gillis.
It’s a fresh folk-rock marvel of a record that steps out instead of sitting tight and dances nimbly around and up against time passing too quickly – facing urgency, awareness and ennui with undeterred optimism.
It is set for release on Bandcamp on November 25 and streamers on Boxing Day, 2022, because I’m old and do what I want.
Why did you choose Groundrush as the album title?
The word groundrush, loosely defined, comes from skydiving types and describes the sensation of the ground suddenly rushing up at you all at once, even though it seemed so far away just moments before while jumping out of planes and such.
What was the inspiration for the album? Is there a theme?
The whole record dances around this idea pasted onto life in general: when one is young, time stretches out endlessly, and as one gets older, it starts to fly faster every day, bringing a heightened awareness of what sort of teacher and opponent time can be—the ultimate bottleneck; the groundrush.
As a gatherer and song maker of life’s impressions, I had a few in the cooker. My experience recording my last record was so great and satisfying that I felt compelled to gather the same team with a couple of hot additions to do another project.
My producer/project partner and I have a shared obsession: when laying down bed tracks/song foundations, there is a magical moment where everyone in the room knows the song is born – in this case, with Jordan Murphy on drums and Mike Farrington on bass – it’s an elusive thing, but we got it, on every single track.
What is your favourite song to perform off the album, and why?
It’s probably down to a song called Marshy Hope, a simple little tune that captures the nostalgic and conflicted feelings of being halfway home. I will release Marshy Hope as a feature track with a companion video in early 2023.
What’s next for Leona?
Album release run! The big stop is at The Carleton on December 1, with the Factory Girls opening and a full, very hot band. We’ll take the audience on a track-by-track trip through the new record.