If the key to creativity is reinvention, midtown resident and singer-songwriter Joanna Chapman-Smith has it in spades.
Chapman-Smith is about to release her third album, Love Me Deeply, which marks a stark departure from her previous two offerings.
“My first album (titled Lily Come Down) was sort of a singer-songwriter album so it was pretty sparse,” the singer said. “The second (Contraries) was more of a bohemian party album and this one’s more orchestral.”
Love Me Deeply was inspired by heartache and has a sultry, jazzy feel and includes string arrangements. The album is more polished than her previous two releases and, while Chapman-Smith felt ample preparation time with her accompanying musicians would help smooth out the recording process, that turned out not to be the case.
“The last album was a bit more of a free-for-all when we were recording and the process was really different for this one,” she said. “For this one, we spent a few days (before recording) to figure out exactly what we wanted to do and I expected it to be a fast, efficient process, but it didn’t work out that way.”
The album, and the title track in particular, focus on love and loss. Chapman-Smith wrote the title track after spending a week canoeing in Algonquin Park, making it a spiritual song of sorts for her.
“Because I’d been in the trees, I had all this nature imagery in my head as I was writing it and that helped it take on a wise voice,” she said. “I felt like the song had a bit more wisdom than me and there’s a bit of a seriousness and gravity to it.”
Creating an album that differs so greatly from her previous efforts is hardly unusual for Chapman-Smith, who admits to loving change. After growing up in midtown Toronto – she attended John Ross Roberston Public School and Northern Secondary School as well as the Claude Watson School for the Arts – she moved out west, returning home more recently to continue her career.
“This is really where I got my start in music,” she said. “At Northern Secondary School, I had one teacher who was really incredible and inspired me a lot, even taking me to my first open mic.”
Chapman-Smith also plans on passing along her love of music through teaching. She teaches at the Midtown Music School and she often teaches music to others while on tour, hosting classes for anyone wanting to learn.
“I find it helps me connect with a community in a more intense and meaningful way and lets me spend more time getting to know a community than just playing there one night,” she said.
She is hoping to streamline her own teachings to bring music lessons to communities that lack resources for musical education.
“Music is such an important thing for the spirit, for confidence and for the life that wakes up in people when they’re making it,” she said.
Chapman-Smith is already hard at work on her next project. That album will offer up songs based on folk tales from around the world, sometimes delving into the raw, violent imagery found within such tales.
“I love old folk tales,” she said. “They deal with strange world views and some of the advice they give is so weird.”
Chapman-Smith will launch Love Me Deeply at a show at Hugh’s Room, 2261 Dundas Street West, at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12. For more information on the singer, visit www.joannacs.com