Montreal’s Ladies of the Canyon perform songs off their new album

Montreal’s Ladies of the Canyon perform songs off their new album

Tell it on the mountain when ladies visit Armstrong

  • May. 4, 2011 1:00 p.m.

They’ll be shouting from the deep depths when Ladies of the Canyon visits Armstrong with Old Man Luedecke Tuesday, May 10.

Stopping at the Armstrong Inn on their current cross-country tour, Ladies of the Canyon are four friends who got together in their Montreal living rooms to write and sing songs influenced by their favourite bands: The Eagles, The Band and Fleetwood Mac.

Musicians and songwriters Maia Davies (vocals, guitars, mandolin, keyboards), Senja Sargeant (vocals, guitars, mandolin), Jasmine Bleile (vocals, guitars) and Anna Ruddick (electric and upright bass, vocals) have their distinct tone and personality, but when they come together for harmonies, it’s said to be a soaring blend.

Their debut full-length album, Haunted Woman, was produced by Colin Cripps, recognized as one of Canada’s premiere guitarists who previously produced critically acclaimed albums for Kathleen Edwards and Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy.

Through his production work, Cripps has showcased the Ladies’ range both as songwriters and vocalists. This can be heard through many of the tracks on Haunted Woman, including first single, Follow Me Down, a sunny pop song inspired by one of Sargeant’s recent relationships.

“I was conquering some personal troubles and didn’t realize I could have better and get better,” said Sargeant. “That’s what that song is about –– waking up and seeing the light.”

For the darker, War & Glory, Sargeant called upon her bandmate Davies to help crystallize the song.

“I knew what it was about, but I couldn’t put the lyrics to it myself because I was a mess so I had to ask Maia to write the lyrics for it after I told her what it was about.”

Davies calls Sargeant “outrageous,” marveling how she’ll start dancing out of nowhere and doesn’t care what people think.

“On stage, she has been known to announce her ex-boyfriend’s phone number,” said Davies, who takes the lead on a few of Haunted Woman’s tracks herself, including the Dolly Parton-like No Deliverance.

“I was pretty influenced on that by Dolly and Tammy (Wynette),” she said. “The song’s a story I’d written in my dreams about a girl born in the beginning of the century in farmland California.  I have no idea why I dreamed that.”

Ladies of the Canyon’s guitarist Bleile, who usually brings along her toddler while on the road, can be heard on lead vocals singing Every Minute and the sagely Lonely Town, which was written for a 55-year-old friend who’s still single.

“It’s words of encouragement that you can find love at any age,” she said. “That lyric doesn’t have the same impact as the message of the song because Lonely Town makes it sound like a sad song, but it’s about finding love and getting older.”

The group’s bassist, Ruddick, also brought her own songwriting skills to the album by contributing the track, Hard To Find Love, in which Bleile sings the lead.

“It was important for me to have an emotionally lyrical contribution to the writing, and Hard To Find Love was actually about the other girls and my relationship with them as I stood by them through their struggles,” said Ruddick, who studied jazz at McGill University and has performed in many different projects. “The natural progression of being a working musician is that the nature of the work takes you to unexpected musical places, but I’m so glad I found myself in LOTC because it became a really fulfilling creative experience for me. I also have a great passion for singing and popular songwriting now, and this has become so much more than just playing in another band for me, it’s a part of me and I of it.”

Off stage, it’s Sargeant and Ruddick who provide hours of entertainment on the road when the band  tours, while Bleile is the voice of reason, and Davies makes sure all business is in order.

But when they get on stage, it’s a symbiotic relationship, say the ladies.

Joining Ladies of the Canyon is Old Man Luedecke, who won the 2011 Juno Award for best roots and traditional album for his most recent recording, My Hands Are On Fire and Other Love Songs.

The musicians take the stage at the Armstrong Inn Tuesday, May 10 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 at the Armstrong Inn Liquor Store. More info is available at www.armstronginn.com.