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Amanda Rheaume’s Light of Another Day dawns

Amanda Rheaume

Amanda Rheaume (photo: Sean Sisk)

To get to Light of Another Day, her first full-length CD, Amanda Rheaume has taken a path that is uniquely her own.

Ottawa music fans first came to know her as the leader of The Amanda Rheaume Band, a rock outfit that became well-known for their high-energy shows. And with the advent of the “Big Money Shot”, a promotion by Ottawa radio station Live 88.5 that offered local performers financial support, she began to shape herself into a radio-friendly rock-pop act.

Despite her successes in the competition, and experiences cowriting with well-known folks like Holly McNarland and Chantal Kreviazuk, Rheaume didn’t find the magic combination to pop-star success.

At the same time, Rheaume was an integral part of the Babes For Breasts series of concerts that were the brainchild of singer-songwriter Ana Miura. And perhaps the in-depth exposure to singer-songwriters that countless tours with Babes rubbed off on her.

Over the last couple of years, Rheaume has toured extensively with longtime bandmate Jeff Logan, and the duo became expert at crafting shows that kept the energy of a full-band show without the drumkit and bass grooves.

Because Light of Another Day has taken Rheaume quite some distance from a calculated pop confection. With modest percussion in the back of the sound and acoustic guitar at the forefront, the CD’s 11 songs find a unique place where country, folk, and pop intersect.

Rheaume possesses a voice that carries with it an urgency, and her vocals on the CD carry with them the experience of countless gigs in venues small and large and the craft of having made her two previous EPs, Kiss Me Back and If You Never Live, as well as a fundraising “Acoustic Christmas” CD that sold more than 6,000 copies to benefit Ottawa’s Big Brothers and Sisters.

Rheaume doesn’t come at her music with the sensibility of a folk musician deeply rooted in the traditions. Rather, her songs are written from an intimate perspective and from the perspective of finding a hook and working it until it’s ready to get inside the listener’s head.

The CD’s opening track, “Open Door”, sets a definite tone, with some twangy electric guitar and excellent harmonica playing from Monkeyjunk’s Steve Marriner.

The rest of the CD sees her backed by Ottawa musical stalwarts including Marriner, Anders Drerup, Fred Guignon, Chris Beitner, as well as producer Ross Murray.

Her song “Push On” (likely inspired by Rheaume’s own concert trips to Afghanistan to play for NATO troops) looks at a soldier’s time in Afghanistan from three perspectives — the soldier’s, his wife’s and his father’s; “There You Are Again” is a love letter to a departed lover; “Kiss Me Back” is a love letter to a lover who’s present.

And perhaps the most interesting pair of songs on the disk speak specifically to her own experiences. “Better Days Ahead” is a song that any musician could relate to, laying out a scene where there’s no money, a broken car, and friends who’ve given up the dream of living from music as well as on music, while “Bread Winning” paints a picture of a performer playing for a crowd that’s distracted by chatter and hockey — the gig that’s just the “breadwinner.”

But perhaps the “statement” of the CD is “Rooting Down”, in which Rheaume sings:

My toes
Are gripping like a vice
Plant my heels,
Look up to the sky.

My voice
Is singing like a bird
I will finally say the words
I will let myself be heard.

Rooting Down…
All four corners in the ground
I am rising up.
Rooting Down…
my feet are planting into the ground
and I’m rising up. I am rising up.

Judging by her first full-length CD, I think Rheaume might be doing just that.

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Amanda Rheaume is touring Eastern Canada with Barstool Prophet Graham Greer in June, and spending two months touring Western Canada with Marc Charron, starting in August at the Live from Red Rock festival, stopping at Penticton on September 10, and then back to Ontario for the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals conference in October and a Babes for Breasts show on October 27.  Info on the tours is available at: www.amandarheaume.com.

 

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