New album set to give wings to P.E.I. singer-songwriter

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Doug Gallant
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She’s Gonna Fly has plenty of potential to lift Meaghan Blanchard’s career to the next level

A chance meeting with acclaimed American producer John Keane in Memphis last year has yielded a record that could go a long way towards helping P.E.I. singer-songwriter Meaghan Blanchard generate major market exposure at home and abroad.

She’s Gonna Fly, Blanchard’s first bonafide full-length record (Changing Things and Chasin’ Lonely Again were technically EPs) is the kind of record that builds buzz.

Indications are that has already started to happen even though the record won’t be officially released until September.

Keane, known for his work with acts like REM, The Indigo Girls, Widespread Panic and Nanci Griffith, has helped Blanchard craft a record that is head and shoulders above anything she’s done before and clearly positions her to take her career to the next level.

Recorded at Keane’s studio in Athens, Ga., She’s Gonna Fly features 10 finely crafted new songs from Blanchard and great covers of two songs from Seth Livengood of HomeGrown Revival, a progressive George folk act that Keane also produces.

She’s Gonna Fly is, for the most part, a flat-out country record.

But it’s a pretty diverse country record.

Blanchard’s influences are many and varied, from the more traditional country sounds of artists like Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris to western swing a la Asleep At The Wheel, country gospel music and more contemporary country fare.

There’s a nice balance between laidback, acoustic gems like Watchin’ The Dandelions Grow and the title track, She’s Gonna Fly, that make you just want to sit back, listen and soak up every little note and full throttle numbers like When You Used To Call My Name and Runaway that make you want to move back the furniture and kick up some dust.

Blanchard took some chances with this record, stepping outside of her comfort zone more than once.

But the choices she made have paid dividends for her. She came away from these sessions with not only a great record but a renewed sense of confidence in herself.

In a short video clip about the record she summed things up like this.

“I learned that just because something is scary and seems daunting, if you go through with that and you kind of push through that feeling of anxiety and of the unknown that you come out with such confidence ....”

Blanchard is proud of this record. She has also been empowered by the process of making it.

“I feel an overwhelming sense of pride in this project and confidence in myself and my ability and I feel like ... you know the next album is gonna’ be even bigger and I’ll take even crazier chances on things like that. I don’t feel scared anymore. I feel confident and happy.”

That confidence is justified.

Blanchard is in excellent voice throughout the record and there are some wonderful harmonies here. Some of those harmonies came from her, but she also got help in that department from Keane, Susan Staley and Adam Lambert.

Keane, who in addition to being a first-rate producer and engineer is also a multi-instrumentalist played dobro, mandolin, bass, banjo, steel guitar, keyboards and percussion.

Other players on deck for these sessions included legendary southern keyboard player Randall Bramblett, whose work with Sea Level and Traffic made him ace in my books.

Choice offerings on this set include She’s Gonna Fly, When I’m Gone, All I’ve Lost, Watchin’ The Dandelions and Seven Nut Pie.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Doug Gallant, a reporter with The Guardian, writes his music review column for The Guardian every week. He welcomes comments from readers at dgallant@theguardian.pe.ca

or 629-6000, ext. 6057.

Organizations: Widespread Panic, The Guardian, Sea Level

Geographic location: P.E.I., Memphis, Athens, Ga.

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