Drop the needle on Healing Power, the bright, bold new album from acclaimed Canadian recording artist Terra Lightfoot, and you won’t be surprised to learn that it was inspired at high altitude. The album’s cover photo sets the scene — a striking European larch at the edge of the timberline, high above a grassy plateau, Limestone Alps rising in the distance like a dream just out of reach. Alone in Austria, just ahead of a string of solo European dates, and just a third of the way into a sprawling world tour, Lightfoot found herself on a mountain-top beneath that tree, singing and playing guitar, touching grass and drilling into the depths of her emotions.
She was surrounded by flowers yellow and blue, and though Lightfoot herself has been given her share of flowers — a pair of JUNO nominations, a long-list Polaris nod, lead single “Paradise” soundtracking the CBC’s first 2018 Winter Olympics wrap — the strain of nearly three years of steady roadwork was eroding the ground under her feet. The tree ultimately became emblematic of the next chapter of Lightfoot’s artistic journey as well as the unassuming cover star of her sixth album.
“The story,” Lightfoot says, “is that everything comes back around. It was my idea to call the record Healing Power, and I thought of the most healing place that I knew in the world. That tree taught me about perseverance. It was the only tree living at that altitude. It just kept growing. And I knew I had to be like that too: just to keep growing and changing.”
Healing Power is further evidence of Lightfoot’s ability to do just that. To describe her decade-plus musical evolution as astonishing is something of an understatement. Along the way, Lightfoot’s marathon tours have touched down in eight countries across four continents (including support slots for Bruce Cockburn, Blue Rodeo, Toad the Wet Sprocket, The Posies, The Sheepdogs, and Willie Nelson). She also conceived, created, curated, produced and co-headlined The Longest Road Show, an all-female touring revue. In October 2020, Lightfoot released Consider the Speed, recorded by Grammy-winning producer Jay Newland at Memphis’ legendary Royal Studios. In early 2022, Lightfoot launched her own label, Midnight Choir, with a cover of Leadbelly’s “Where Did you Sleep Last Night?” and fan-favourite original composition, “Sleepyhead”, covered by Sarah Blackwood of Walk Off The Earth.
With 2023’s Healing Power (out October 13, 2023 on Sonic Unyon Records), Lightfoot showcases her considerable clout as a pop songsmith, delivering a dozen stunning tracks that together represent a career high. The album is her third outing with producer Gus van Go, and it is tribute to her creative ambitions and capacity that the collaboration is yet another quantum leap in her artistic development.
“There was a sense of freedom, both personally and creatively, that struck me while I was writing this record,” Lightfoot says. “Once I got back into the studio with Gus, having already made two records with him, there was an undeniable comfort and workflow that we just fell into. We are super-productive together in the studio. I also seem to get my best vocal takes with Gus behind the board. We built this record pretty quickly together with the band on call whenever we needed them.”
Healing Power delivers the peerless pop-rock album that fans have long known that she always had in her. The set captures the crackling chemistry of the core live trio — most of the album finds Lightfoot backed by bassist Elijah Abrams and Blue Rodeo’s Glenn Milchem on drums. This compact and capable team of players reinforces the strengths of Lightfoot’s remarkable material. From hand-clapping head-turner “Cross Border Lovers” through the cinematic ballad “Out Of Time” that closes it, Lightfoot’s artistic range is again on full display, and her musical talents never short of dazzling. A buoyant pop-rock record at its core, Healing Power is a prismatic tour de force from the charismatic rocker.
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