Plans show at Dancing Dragonfly
Much has changed for singer-songwriter Alice Peacock since her last solo studio album, 2009’s Love Remains. The singer with Osceola connections had three kids, moved to Cincinnati and
… gotten 10 years older.
“Feel the weight of the world on my shoulders/ Am I wiser or am I just older?” she sings on “Dry Spell,” from her new collection, Minnesota. The record suggests that despite her “wondering what all is yet to be,” she has indeed attained a measure of wisdom.
On the album, Peacock explores an understanding of love, in particular, that transcends hearts and flowers, Sturm und Drang. “Resting in the Quiet” acknowledges “a glimpse of the divine” in unspoken eloquence: “We don’t have to talk about it/ We don’t have to say a word/ We can wrap ourselves in silence/ Cause I’ve already heard/ Everything your eyes are saying.”
A departure from romantic love, “Free and Wild” is a lullaby sung from the point of view of someone “with a love so fierce” it hurts. Peacock likens parenthood to “going through life with your heart outside your body.”
The album’s title track is a love song to her home state, where her family spends their summers.
“I’ve lived in Illinois and Tennessee and now Ohio and I love them all, but there’s something about home … As soon as I get back to Minnesota and hear the birds and smell the air, I feel, ‘This is mine; this is me.’” In the song she recalls sitting in “sacred silence,” watching “the electric light show playing wide across the sky.”
The song “Minnesota” was written in 2018, but some of the album Minnesota was written in 2015, the year Peacock took the third annual Real Women Real Songs challenge – which meant writing 52 songs in 52 weeks. Among them were “Resting in the Quiet,” “Free and Wild,” “In Your Own Backyard” and “Paranoid.” Their appearance on the new record reflects the songwriter’s love of – and commitment to – songwriting itself.
The writing of Minnesota thus progressed at its own pace, but recording an album was another matter. She was able to collaborate on “Dry Spell” with Wayne Kirkpatrick (author of Eric Clapton’s Grammy Song of the Year “Change the World”), on “Isn’t That Me and You” with Minnesotan Jon Vezner (cowriter of Kathy Mattea’s Grammy Best Country Song “Where’ve You Been”), and on “Your Own Backyard” with Dirk Freymuth (Kottonmouth Kings, John Gorka, Peter Ostroushko).
Peacock credits Grammy Award-winning producer/keyboardist Phil Madeira, guitarist Will Kimbrough, bassist Chris Donahue and drummer Bryan Owings – aka Emmylou Harris’ Red Dirt Boys – for helping the stars align: “I got a call. They said, ‘Hey, we’re in town if you want to do some recording.’ I said, ‘Why, yes, I do.’”
Alice and the Boys cut the basic tracks for Minnesota in four days. Minnesota was recorded at the Butcher Shoppe in Nashville with engineer Sean Sullivan (Beck, Sturgill Simpson). Derri Daugherty, lead singer and guitarist for the Choir, mixed the disc and sang harmonies with Peacock on several songs, including the title cut, which she calls “an almost-duet.”
Peacock, Kirkpatrick and James Hollihan (Bill Gaither, Mighty Clouds of Joy) played acoustic guitar on the record, though John Mark Painter (Brandi Carlile, Kings of Leon, Ben Folds) played the lion’s share of acoustic and also played horns.
Peacock had not been in the studio since recording 2011’s Myrick Peacock, her duo project with fellow “preacher’s kid” Danny Myrick. (2014’s Live From Space was recorded live at Space, the intimate Evanston, Ill., venue Peacock played regularly in her Chicago days.)
Now that she’s done having babies, she intends to return to the studio at regular intervals, having already started writing songs for a follow-up to Minnesota.
“When all the focus was on me, on my music, I’d think, ‘I’m looking forward to putting the focus on something else; I’m really tired of thinking about myself.’ These days, as much as it possibly can be, the focus is back on my work.”
That recognition recalls a line from Your Own Backyard: “Before your life goes slipping by you/ Open up your eyes.”
Minnesota will be released September 20. The Dancing Dragonfly show is 7 p.m. August 10.