Perth singer Helen Shanahan‘s new album Canvas, which we’re premiering here at Music Feeds before it officially arrives tomorrow (4th March), is filled with the kind of reflective, introspective songwriting that’s difficult not to be drawn in by.
Take the sparse, tenderly affecting ‘Under the Maple Tree’, which sees Shanahan detailing a theoretical correspondence to someone she’s lost touch with. “For everything you’ve done I am most grateful / I don’t know if you’ll ever forgive me,” she croons on its refrain, the directness of the lyrics cutting through above the delicately-picked chords.
The album’s title track hits a similar nerve; a vulnerable song about being taken over by another person in a relationship, having your own needs ignored. “I was your blank canvas, you painted what you wanted on me,” Shanahan sings. “I watched as the colours infused / Oh, how I learned to be used.”
“A lot of the songs on the album ended up pertaining to my high school years where I developed a lot of anxiety and low self-worth,” Shanahan says of Canvas. “Now in my 30s, I am in more stable relationships, and able to observe how these relationships made me behave – and how they made their mark on my mental health. While there are a lot of darker themes on the album, the opening and closing tracks celebrate the ‘better times’ and positive relationships.”
While ‘Under the Maple Tree’ and ‘Canvas’ are slow-burning, acoustic ballads, Canvas in general sees Shanahan accent her folk and country leanings with broader influences and a pop sensibility. There’s rollicking, freewheeling cuts like ‘No’ and ‘Figured You Out’, and Shanahan’s guitar-playing is filled out with flourishes of strings, woodwind and percussion throughout – all while
Listen to Canvas below.