Going to Europe
Vanessa Lively embodies what Austin music is all about.
Her sound could be comfortably labeled as Americana, folk or singer/songwriter music, but there are a plethora of layers to her compositions. With lyrics coming at you in English and Spanish, an eclectic instrumentation, rhythms that bring to mind the deep roots of music from different parts of Latin America and the diverse ways in which Lively uses her voice to convey meaning, her work is injected with what can only be called a "global reverberation."
Lively's latest release, Uncovering Stones, is a wonderful mixture of textures, tempos and instruments that clearly shows just how worldly Lively's folk is. All the expected sounds are there: bass, acoustic and electric guitar, banjo and violin. All those instruments are beautifully played by a group of talented local musicians that include Lively's husband and producer, Jason Lively, but what catapults the album into must-listen territory is the unexpected sounds that give the record it's world/Latin pulse: charangos, trumpet, rock-tinged drums and Spanish lyrics. The record was received well by fans and critics alike. Now, there are even bigger news: Lively just signed a contract to release the album in Europe.
With lyrics coming at you in English and Spanish, an eclectic instrumentation, rhythms that bring to mind the deep roots of music from different parts of Latin America and the diverse ways in which her voice conveys, her work is injected with what can only be called a "global reverberation."
As she was preparing to do an European tour, Lively began contacting DJs. Unbeknownst to her, the album landed in the hands of Continental Records Europe's Bert Pijpers, who reached out and expressed interest in the record. A few talks with fellow musicians and some legal orientation from the Austin Music Foundation followed.
The end result is a signed contract and an upcoming European tour this summer that includes Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.
"I was not that familiar with Continental Records," says Lively. "I had a talk with my friend Betty Soo, who had just come back from Europe, and then asked around a bit more at the House of Songs. It all helped me realize this was a great label. They used to be Rounder Europe. No one had anything but good things to say about it. I feel like it's small enough that they still pay attention to their artists. This means they'll probably work hard to put some momentum behind the album."
Lively explained that, based on her own experience and that of her musician friends, there is a significant group of people in Europe who love music that comes from Austin. Although this will not be her first time playing there, the fact that the album is being released there places Europe high in Lively's priority list. Also, the artist shared that the timing could not have been better.
"I love playing in Europe," says Lively. "This time feels special because it's the first time I feel 100% behind a record. I have been putting out records and learning as I went. With Uncovering Stones, I feel it's representative of me and where I am musically at the moment. The communication also came almost at the same time as an email about free legal consultation with AMF. It's nice when things fall into place like that."
Besides giving her a chance to get much more exposure overseas, releasing Uncovering Stones in Europe is something that has a special meaning for Lively and her fans here in Austin.
"Having the record release in Europe holds some weight there, but what I feel is going to happen is that it's going to help me in Europe and back home equally," says Lively. "People get excited to see an artist grow. For me the strongest impact is here because people that have followed my music from the beginning will see that I've gown, that I've expanded musically. That's what's so cool about Austin: we're all watching each other, we're a community and a great support system."
"I love playing in Europe," says Lively. "This time feels special because it's the first time I feel 100% behind a record.
Lively has been touring and playing intensively, which has cut down on the amount of time she has to work on new material. This new development in her career gives her a chance to keep up her hectic touring schedule and to share the musical space in which she now lives: An earthy, eclectic place in which her voice and guitar help things come together.
The fact that Uncovering Stones is such a great record comes from hard work and a constant state of self-analysis that helps the musician stay hyperaware of what she sounds like. The artist is fully aware of what she brings to the stage.
"My music definitely has elements of the Austin music scene," says Lively. "It's part Americana, part folk and part Latin American with a bit of a soul, funk vibe. The strength of the record is in that mixture. My voice and guitar are the common thread, what makes it palatable."
The hectic schedule that has lead to this great opportunity and the great deal of work that lies ahead are things the songstress takes in stride.
"It's sometimes a little exhausting, but you have to fall into that rhythm where you're always planning a year ahead," says Lively. "There are many different ways to be an artist and this is the way I've chosen: touring. It's good because I'm living a time that feels like expansion. I'm living a time of spreading the music around as much as possible."
In the coming weeks, Lively will work hard on putting together the sets she wants to take to Europe as well as playing locally. Looking ahead, even beyond this European tour, is precisely what keeps Lively going despite the hard work and traveling.
"That's what's so cool about Austin: we're all watching each other, we're a community and a great support system."
"I get excited when I think about the future," she says. "I always want to grow, change and transform. When I think about the future I think about where I'm going to grow next."
Lively will be playing all around Austin in the coming weeks. Then, on August 9, there will be a celebration/send off show at The Cactus Cafe. The singer offered a few reasons why music lovers should be there.
"We'll be celebrating this thing with the record; saying goodbye to Austin and hello to Europe," says Lively. "It'll be a fun show. The Cactus is my favorite place in the world to play. You always get a passionate, special crowd. It allows me to get into that space where I'm experiencing my own songs."
To experience Vanessa Lively's music, get a copy of "Uncovering Stones" and learn about upcoming performances, visit her official website here. Then, make it out to the Cactus Cafe and help sned her off to Europe by celebrating the music that got her there in the first place.