Learning How to Stay

by Gaelynn Lea

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about

Learning How to Stay
Gaelynn Lea

When Gaelynn Lea won NPR Music’s 2016 Tiny Desk Contest, her two decades as a hardworking and talented musician finally crystallized in a beautiful moment of national recognition. It was also just the beginning of a grand adventure. With the wind of her award at their backs, Gaelynn and her husband Paul sold their house in Northern Minnesota, quit their jobs, bought a van, and hit the road.

Since then, Gaelynn has played over 250 shows in 42 states and seven countries, adding nearly 100,000 miles to their Ford Econoline’s odometer. The singer-songwriter and violinist has performed everywhere from coffee shops, bars, schools and festivals; she’s graced the stage of renowned venues like Nashville’s Music City Roots, The Kennedy Center, House of Blues and even BBC World News. This June she was featured at arts festivals in Iceland and Switzerland, and she’s set to appear at the Winnipeg Folk Fest in July and Travelers' Rest Fest (curated by The Decemberists) in August.

Yet somehow between this perpetual blitz of performances, Gaelynn also recorded her third full-length album set for release in September. Until this point Gaelynn Lea has presented most of her songs using only a few tools: a violin, a voice, and a looping pedal. But for her latest, Gaelynn Lea enlisted the help of some musical friends to bring her new album to life. Several of Minnesota’s heavy-hitters—including Al Church, Dave Mehling, Marty Dosh, Andrew Foreman and Alan Sparhawk—lent their creative influence and musicality to this recording. The result is a powerfully emotive effort of confidence and purpose which captures the poignancy and presence of Gaelynn Lea’s crafted repertoire.

Her forthcoming album, Learning How To Stay, is an 11-song collection that runs the gamut sonically from pensive and luscious to aggressive and intentioned, from folk to decidedly pop, and even includes a couple of traditional fiddle tunes. Undoubtedly the connecting thread of this album is Gaelynn Lea herself. With her singular voice and deeply-affecting violin, she guides the listener through a journey that explores the contrasting nature of existence: dark and light, birth and death, anger and forgiveness, sorrow and joy. Learning How to Stay encourages the listener to stay present for it all.

The album opens with a droning cascade of strings and a lone piano setting the tone on “Bound By a Thread,” then abruptly shifts to the bright country twang of guitars through a lesson of literal biology and figurative heart on “Dark to Light and Dark Again.” This contrast is indicative of the record as a complete thought, presenting the listener with an ever-widening spectrum of themes and musical moods. The sparse indie-rock vibe of “I See It Too” is then juxtaposed with the Celtic-like pastoral build of the instrumental, “Jim and Judy’s Wedding” (Larry Unger).

Mid-tempo grooves are broken down and piled back up on both “Lost in the Woods” and the backstreet rocker “Someday We’ll Linger in the Sun”. Carefully, patiently, the music unfolds with a myriad of tasteful choices: a Hammond B-3 organ harmonizing briefly with the heartbreak vocal of “The Last Three Feet;” the polyrhythmic art rock sensibility and sheets of violin coursing through “I Wait.”

Bright, bare minimalism adorns the Irish-tinged original “Grace and a Tender Hand,” while a foreboding darkness inhabits the Finnish traditional instrumental, “Metsakukkia”. This genre-defying album winds down with some welcomed serenity during the ballad “Moment of Bliss”, which is a fitting end to this emotionally satisfying listening experience.

In addition to performing and recording, Gaelynn Lea loves to do speaking engagements about disability awareness, inclusion in the arts, and leading an enriching life. Gaelynn has a disability called Osteogenesis Imperfecta (Brittle Bones Disease) and she is a strong voice in the disability community. Gaelynn Lea believes society must prioritize accessibility so people with disabilities can participate in their communities and use their gifts without barriers or discrimination.

Contact:

www.violinscratches.com
218-461-1785 or booking@gaelynnlea.com

credits

released September 7, 2018

Band:

Gaelynn Lea: Violin, Vocals (Whistling on Track 2)
Dave Mehling: Guitars, Keyboards, Organ & Auxiliary Percussion
Al Church: Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Piano & Auxiliary Percussion
Martin Dosh: Drums
Andrew Foreman: Electric Bass on all tracks except 3, 7 & 11

Special Guests:

Alan Sparhawk: Baritone Guitar & Vocal Harmony on Tracks 3, 7 & 11
Haley McCallum: Vocal Harmony on Tracks 5, 7 & 9
Jeremy Ylvisaker: Electric Guitar on Tracks 3, 4, 7 & 11
Michael Lewis: Saxophone on Tracks 3 & 7
Walter Gies: Violin on Track 4
Richard Carter: Theremin on Track 9
Bob Boilen: Static & Aural Effects on Track 6
Andres Crovetti: Vibraphone on Tracks 9 & 11
Taylor Donskey: Upright Bass on Tracks 3, 7 & 11
Zachary Hollander: Castanets on Track 8
Mary McDonald, Joe McDonald, Henry Koski & Paul Tressler: Hand Claps & Backup Vocals on Tracks 1, 2 & 8

Credits:

Lyrics:
Gaelynn Lea (all tracks except 4 & 10)

Music & Arrangement:
Gaelynn Lea (all tracks except 4 & 10)
Dave Mehling (all tracks except 4 & 10)
Al Church (all tracks except 4 & 10)
Martin Dosh (all tracks except 4 & 10)
Andrew Foreman (tracks 1, 2, 5, 6, 8 & 9)
Alan Sparhawk (tracks 3, 7 & 11)
George Lee Ellsworth Jr (track 5)
Lawrence S Unger (track 4)

Co-Producers: Gaelynn Lea, David Mehling & Al Church
Associate Producer: Alan Sparhawk
Executive Producers: Harrison Reiner & Douglas Steward

Recorded & Mixed by Zachary Hollander at The Pearl Recording Studio in Minneapolis, MN
Mastered by Robert Hadley at Hadley Mastering in Los Angeles, CA
Album Art by Shawn Stigsell at Stigsell Creative in Duluth, MN

Thank You's:

Thank you so much to the following people who helped make this labor of love come to life: Harrison Reiner, Douglas Steward, Terese Stauss, Lawrence Carter-Long, Sara Langbert, Nadine Terk, Steve Nash, Reid Simpson, Thomas Ward, Jon and Visha Stubbs, Kevin Marshall, Anne Gabrys & Dave Seglem, Nise Louie, Celia Rowlson-Hall, Nancy Diener, Carey Appel, and Jo-Anne Kirkman. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to everyone who contributed their time and incredible talent to this music... I had so much fun creating this album with you! I am, of course, ever thankful to my friends, family & musical accomplices for supporting me through my recording adventures and life in general. And last but certainly not least, I am humbled and blessed to be partners with my husband Paul. Thank you for your laughter, your love, your belief in me (and we!), and your willingness to drive 90,000 miles across the country in a Ford Econoline... I am a very lucky lady. Cheers!

Dedicated to Steve Rose

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about

Gaelynn Lea Duluth, Minnesota

Gaelynn Lea is a haunting violinist and songwriter from Northern Minnesota.

She won NPR Music's Tiny Desk Contest Winner in 2016 and has been touring nationally & internationally ever since with her husband Paul in their 2002 Ford Econoline.

She is releasing her third full-length album, "Learning How to Stay" on September 7, 2018.

Gaelynn is also a disability rights advocate and public speaker.
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Track Name: Bound by a Thread
Bound bound bound
By a thread
Going down down
Through the ages
You could’ve stayed
But you came here instead
To fill my life’s empty pages

And I
I do believe
We’ll see the fruits of our labor
Maybe not now
Maybe lifetimes ahead
If only love would be our guide

(INSTRUMENTAL BREAK)

Bound bound bound
By a thread
Going down down
Through the ages
You could’ve stayed
But you came here instead
To fill my life’s empty pages

And I
I do believe
We’ll see the fruits of our labor
Maybe not now
Maybe lifetimes ahead
If only love would be our guide
Our guide
Our guide
Our guide
Our guide
If only love would be our guide
Track Name: Dark to Light and Dark Again
Muscles, nerves and skin and bones
They carry us on our journey home
Day by day they sustain us
In the end they betray us
But our bodies, they never fully contain us
We rise above that matter which seeks to detain us
From the truth, from the love
From each other, from above
We’re everything all at once
We need not fear the end when it comes

Dark to light and dark again
All changing tides until it ends
Take it in, don’t close your eyes
And piece by piece shed your disguise
‘Til your spirit is what you have gained
Burning brighter than all of your pain

Silence may confine you
But it does not define who you have been
The love you have created
When memories have faded will remain

Travelin’ down this winding road
The destination is not ours to know
But it’s shaped by those who guide us
Take us in, come beside us
For no matter how much we have grown
We cannot do it all on our own
We cannot do it all on our own
We cannot do it all on our own
Track Name: I See It Too
What do you see with your eyes, baby?
The vision you paint is so bleak
Has the world drained out all of your color,
Do you find only that which you seek?

‘Cause I see it too
Just different than you
But I see it too

What do you hear with your ears, baby?
Does the universe whisper a lie?
Does bird song get muffled by silence,
Does your laugher come off as a cry?

‘Cause I hear it too
Just different than you,
But I hear it too.

What do you feel in your mind, baby?
Do you think you are lost and alone?
Does all that you touch turn to sharpness
When you sense that you don’t have a home?

‘Cause I feel it too
Just different than you,
But I feel it too.

I pray that I meet you in heaven
When both of our blinders are gone
And I hope it turns out we were singing
Two harmonies of the same song
Track Name: Jim and Judy's Wedding (Larry Unger)
(INSTRUMENTAL)
Track Name: Lost in the Woods
When you were lost in the woods
You were misunderstood
By everyone
Everyone
You were searching for words
But they came out absurd
And no one heard you
No one heard you
Speak your mind
They lost the time

Where's your heart?
Where's your heart today?
Forgive yourself
But don't give yourself away

And now you're out on your own
Getting farther from home
And everywhere
Everywhere
You see hurting and strife
People cling to your light
But no one sees you
No one sees you
Keep your why
It's all a lie.

Where's your heart?
Where's your heart today?
Forgive yourself
But don't give yourself away
Away, Away
Forgive yourself
But don't give yourself away
Track Name: The Last Three Feet
You are the darkness of my heart
You are the shadow of my soul
You tore my peace of mind apart
You are the thoughts I can’t control

And I want you to know
That forgiveness isn’t easy

We mine for diamonds in the deep
But all we’re bringing up is coal
You pay me visits in my sleep
Never returning what you stole

And I’m trying to go
Down the path that one day frees me
From you

The longest mile, the last three feet
How do you make a heart complete
After the wind has ripped your sail in two

The longest mile, the last three feet
Measure the distance in between
It’s never as far as seems from me to you

We’d like to think that we are right
We want to feel that we are good
We say we’re following the light
We all hope to be understood

But peering in the night
We can sense our own delusion
We’re loving mixed with spite
And we draw our own conclusions
It’s true

The longest mile, the last three feet
How do you make a heart complete
After the wind has ripped your sail in two

The longest mile, the last three feet
Measure the distance in between
It’s never as far as seems from me to you

And if you wrestle with your pain
When do you feel the seeds of change
Finally take hold
And rearrange the view?
Track Name: Someday We'll Linger in the Sun
Our love's a complex vintage wine
All rotted leaves and lemon rind
I'd spit you out but now you're mine

We bit the fruit, it seemed a lie
I'll never know which way was right
Now side by side we face the night

And I love you
And I love you
And I love you

We walked the pier and back again
It was the most scared I've ever been
You held my hand until the end

And I love you
And I love you
And I love you

Don't tell me we've got time
The subtle thief of life
It slips away when we pay no mind

We pulled the weeds out til the dawn
Nearly too tired to carry on
Someday we'll linger in the sun

And I love you
And I love you
And I love you
Track Name: I Wait
Can you see me
Way in the back here?
I've been waiting
I've been waiting in line.

It's been a long time
Can't get no service
Still I'm hoping
I am hoping for a sign

That one day things will change
And we can finally take our place
That history won't forget us
Or try to minimize our pain

And so I wait
And so I wait

Did you know that
When I get angry
I breathe fire
I could burn this place down?

You may not realize
All of the small ways
I am not welcome
But just take a look around

Still everybody knows
That you need a place to go
And livin' isn't easy
If you incinerate your home

And so I stay
And so I stay

I may seem angry
So please forgive me
But I am still not free
In this society

How long must we keep fighting
For our right to be living?
Wrongs overdue for righting
We're a bit too forgiving

So when you hear them
Make claims of progress
Take a good look
And see who isn't there

We need a seat now
At the table
So please invite us
Or don't pretend to care.
Track Name: Grace and a Tender Hand
I don’t know the words to the song I want to sing you
I don’t have a name for what I want to bring you
I don’t understand what you’ve seen or all that you have done
But if I could bring you peace today
My battle would be won

You’re weighted down with worry, you doubt what you are worth
You question if you’ll ever know your place upon this earth
But if you saw what I see, this perfect person standing next to me
If you could kindly let yourself be
Your battle would be won

We don’t know the outcome, how this story will unfold
We only have a moment, and it is not ours to hold
A place to fall, a time to land; we grow by grace and a tender hand
The beauty of this hidden plan
Is our battle has been won

The beauty of this hidden plan
Is our battle has been won
Track Name: Metsakukkia (traditional Finnish tune)
(INSTRUMENTAL)
Track Name: Moment of Bliss
It seemed easy
But it's so hard to do
Feels too empty
When we're facing the truth
Facing the truth

All we need to know
Lies at the end of our grasp
We won't choose to go
So we just face the next task
Humble at last

Ever simple
But we so often miss
All our chaos
Can be pared down to this
Pared down to this
Pared down to this
Moment of bliss.

It seemed easy
But it's so hard to do
Feels too empty
When we're facing the truth
Facing the truth

All we need to know
Lies at the end of our grasp
We won't choose to go
So we just face the next task
Humble at last

Ever simple
But we so often miss
All our chaos
Can be pared down to this
Pared down to this
Pared down to this
Moment of bliss.

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