Bowen artist launches third studio album, Before You

A few years ago, islander Alicia Hansen didn’t know if she’d ever be a musician again.  

She’d just had her son. She was busy working as a production manager for Early Music Vancouver. With an already extensive musical resume, including two studio records, a degree in jazz piano and a stint with the Vancouver Chamber Choir, Hansen found herself serving other musicians rather than playing herself. For a couple of years, she barely touched her piano.

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“I thought maybe I wasn’t a creator anymore,” says Hansen. “I had a crisis of identity.

“It was a deep ache.

“I had to carve a place for [music] or, or I would die.”

So the islander of eight years moved her piano out into the shed, carved down her work hours and started writing and writing and writing. Within a couple of months, she had enough songs for an album.

“The music had been a pressure cooker from that time,” she says.

That was two years ago.

On Nov. 1, Hansen is launching her third studio album,Before You. The cross-genre, non-mainstream work is produced by Juno and Polaris Award-winning musician and producer Jesse Zubot, who’s worked with Tanya Tagaq among others.

“It’s about my life now as an artist living on Bowen Island as an artist, as a mother, as someone trying to find a place as a musician in this culture,” says Hansen.

Hansen says that the current culture tends to prioritize music’s entertainment value over its artistic value, a worry she let drop for this album.

“For the most part the piano parts are simpler,” says Hansen. She describes the piano in her earlier work, which includes Fractography(2011) and Alicia Hansen & Ben Brown: Companion(2015), as dense and thorny.

Hansen says that voice, piano and drums provide the musical foundation, with sparse strings and electronics providing the atmosphere.

“I stopped worrying about if something a cliché,” says Hansen. She also stopped resisting a back beat.

“It’s amazing when you let go of impressing anybody.

“There are always a few people in the world you imagine listening and judging and it’s nice to let go of that.”

"I Disagree," from Before You. This is a music video by Hansen's husband, who is also a Bowen artist, Jay White.

It’s not only the music that’s simpler, but the lyrics. Hansen says that where heavy metaphor shrouded her earlier work, with Before Youshe made sure every lyric and metaphor is exactly what she means.

“Maybe it’s not the music that’ll reach gazillions of people, but I’m ok with that,” says Hansen.

Hansen launched her album Nov. 1, but the album launch concert will be repeated at a house-concert on Bowen in late November. For reservations and details email bowenhouseconcerts@gmail.com.

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