AboutWith her second Nettwerk album, Passenger (the first for Capitol Records), Canadian songwriter and performer Tara MacLean has found a strong direction and a place to call home. That is no easy feat for the 26-year-old, born on Prince Edward Island, in Canada's eastern Maritime Provinces. She lived until the age of four in a log cabin in the woods with her Mother, an accomplished actress and her Father, a Country and Gospel singer and songwriter.
"I haven't stayed in any one place for very long and so I've found that centre within myself," says Tara, who moved around considerably thereafter, living in England, the Caribbean and the West Coast of Canada.
The unending cycle of Human in nature, myth, unity and chaos and the elements that make up life are some of the subjects of Tara's new songs, which weave shimmering organic melodies with an undulating trip-hop undertow, a musical correlative to feeding the soul without ignoring the flesh. Produced in New Orleans by Malcolm Burn and Bill Bell, Passenger reflects Tara's search to find her spiritual centre, a quest that led her to music as salvation. "As I moved through life, I found that music was my tool for survival," she explains. "At first it wasn't something I wanted to do; it was something I had to do. These songs helped me understand where I was coming from, and I had something to show for the places that I went inside myself".
That strength comes through in the childlike innocence and growing self-reliance of the first single, If I Fall . Tara's thoughts on the division between people in Divided where she seeks higher ground: "I'll be checking out the scenery/From as high as I can be." She touches on forgiveness in the title track Passenger and longing in Reach . Youth violence in Dry Land and the lies and traps of drug addiction in the haunting yet uplifting Jericho . She also sings in French, in a song written by Canadian friend, Lennie Gallant.
Tara's ride in the music business is almost as magical as the stories she weaves into her songs. She was discovered while singing with friends on the top deck of a ferry boat en route to a tiny island off the coast of British Columbia by two Nettwerk Records employees. After taping a few songs for them, Tara was signed and released her debut album, Silence, in 1996.
Two straight years of touring with the likes of Paula Cole, Ron Sexsmith, the Barenaked Ladies, and Lilith Fair followed the release, where she carved her own style and astounded audiences with her honesty and unforgettable voice. She has participated in numerous soundtracks and a benefit album for World Vision, as well as for various crisis centres. She was named Best New Solo Artist at the Canadian Radio Music Awards in 1997 , and also garnered an impressive buzz for her showcase at the 1998 South By Southwest in Austin, which led her to Capitol Records and her major label release.
By the time she was ready to record Passenger , Tara was at a new place in her life.
"My first record was a reflection of my search for hope. Now I am so happy and my outlook has changed from always looking inside myself to looking at the world around me. When I stopped focusing on pain, the beauty that I was capable of just flowed out. I let go of this tremendous sadness."
Passenger is balanced with fury and rapture. Tara takes us places and describes things for us that we could not before have put into words or song.