Alicia Hansen’s third studio album marks her arrival at a place of artistic confidence, authenticity and clarity. Produced by Polaris Prize and Juno Award-winning Jesse Zubot (Tanya Tagaq, Fond of Tigers), Before You is a blend of gut-wrenching grit, lyrical beauty and courageous vulnerability.
On November 1, Hansen celebrates the release of Before You in a concert featuring a who’s who of Vancouver musical talent, a number of whom can be heard on her new album. Peggy Lee (cello), James Meger (bass), Ben Brown (drums), Lee Hutzulak (electronics) and other special guests join Alicia Hansen (piano/voice) for an evening of this stunning artist’s works.
Before You magnifies the essence of Hansen’s “experimental pop that’s both listenable and challenging” (NOW Magazine). Unified by a calm candor, but varying widely in tempo and tone, these eleven songs keep Hansen’s “distinctive and enticing vocal work” (Whole Note) at the forefront. Under Zubot’s masterful guidance, the album is accessible and impactful while accentuating the music’s “unique, excitingly original” identity (Foxy Digitalis).
Standing tall in Hansen’s new-found self-acceptance, Before You embraces a theme of individuality and a rejection of conventions dictated by the modern music industry. A lyric from “Fame & Glory” aptly states: “So I hope that you’re not waiting for me / to turn into something that I’ll never be”.
Featuring haunting strings from Vancouver improvisatory masters Peggy Lee on cello and Jesse Zubot on violin, Before You combines warm analog intimacy with an intriguing backdrop of electronics from Dixie’s Death Pool leader Lee Hutzulak. Juno Award-winning drummer Ben Brown (Pugs & Crows) and renowned bassist Darren Parris (Frazey Ford) complete the recording ensemble.
From the PJ Harvey-esque “I Disagree” to echoes of Portishead in “Tied to the Post”, the listener is taken through the wide gamut of Hansen’s influences. Electronic shimmers in “Before You” highlight layers of counterpoint reminiscent of Brad Mehldau, while the startling contrast of “Meristem” and “Battlestare” reveal Hansen’s roots in modern jazz, prog-rock and 20th-century classical music.