Calling Andrina Turenne’s new album, Bold As Logs, her debut feels like a bit of a misnomer. The Winnipeg singer-songwriter has, after all, graced stages across five continents and has lent her voice—as a member or a guest—to more than 50 albums during her 20-plus years in the music industry. In addition, she has a Juno for best roots and traditional album, awarded to her former band Chic Gamine.
Yes, Andrina has kept great company, but now this prolific Franco-Manitoban Métis artist is poised to share her own music, which weaves between languages as seamlessly as the themes in her songwriting, with a sound that is universal.
Bold As Logs contains 11 soulfully engaging songs in French and English, delivered in the spirit of road trips, kitchen parties, and bonfire gatherings. Andrina may have taken her time to move front and centre, but her time is now—and it was worth the wait. As might be expected, some of the songs have been gestating for many years, although some sprung from more recent ideas captured as home demos and voice memos. Andrina whittled them down to 14, which she sent to producer Grant Siemens (Corb Lund), and along with Andrina’s longtime musical partner Damon Mitchell (formerly of Winnipeg’s the New Meanies), they worked as a trio to bring the album’s final cuts to life.
“When my last group ceased touring and recording in late 2015, I knew that my next chapter would be a solo one,” Andrina said, noting that during the interim she took on work in theatre and film, and as touring bandleader for acclaimed author and musician Tomson Highway. “It was really great to challenge myself in this way and it built up my confidence as a solo artist, musician and composer. Where I’m at now, it feels like the free-est I’ve ever been creatively. Even though this project carries my name and my stories, I’m so grateful to be sharing these moments surrounded by my oldest musical pals. Being in the studio and making this record, it felt like all the roads I’ve been on led me straight there.”
For the first single from Bold As Logs, Andrina chose to showcase her sultry voice en français with “Tour du monde,” which builds from a simple beat into an anthemic rocker. The end result is a heartfelt story of rebuilding old relationships, with the message not lost in translation: “Some days are easier than others / I turn right, and you turn left / We lose our way / But we return to one another / No need to say whose fault it was / We’ve already forgotten.”
Andrina described “Tour du monde” as one of the album’s tracks that blossomed through pre-production experimentation, something she also said occurred with album opener “Out Of Luck,” which sets the tone with some serious Curtis Mayfield vibes. Conversely, her deep love and knowledge of traditional Cajun music shines through on “Tourtes printanières,” inspired by the stories of 19th Century Métis hunter and trader Louis Goulet she’d read in one of her father’s old books. Adding further texture to the song is her friend, Grammy-winning Louisiana fiddler Louis Michot. Bold As Logs ends with the delicate “See Me Through The Night,” written on a ukulele while traveling in Morocco when she received word from home about a fallen friend. It was one of the few songs to make the album in its original recorded form, with its emotional resonance fully intact.
Indeed, Andrina’s ability to merge a wide range of genres is the real magic behind Bold As Logs. Although she points to Feist’s chameleon-like abilities as one of her primary musical inspirations, it’s easy to hear the impact of everyone from Nina Simone to Bonnie Raitt to Gillian Welch throughout the album. Still, everything about Bold As Logs sounds indisputably pure.
“When asked about what inspires me, my first thought is always my parents and their friends who taught me the joy of making music with others, singing around campfires,” she said. “That is the very place from which I want this project to grow. I collaborated in groups for nearly 20 years of my life, and I learned so much, musically and creatively. I always loved the give and take of the process and I’m so grateful I get to make beautiful sounds with people I consider family, while learning to navigate the industry and all that comes with it.”