There’s a breath of honesty in everything Jillian Edwards writes. Her songs elicit faith and hope in the presence of darkness and pain. Her voice is incredibly human, a trait that embraces the listener and allows them to relate.
Hopeful and earnest, her new album, Daydream, shows that wisdom is not incommensurate with youthful exuberance. Even the melancholy Sink My Feet contains a positive, hopeful belief in the endurance of love. The album puts a modern spin on traditional folk sounds and bravely steps into new territory.
NYMM: What is new about Daydream? How is it different from your previous work?
JE: A lot of my life has changed since the last one. Getting married has been a new chapter in my life. Also, I’m no longer a student who does music on the side, but have become a full-time musician. The songs I wrote for this one came out of a different place than where I was for the last few.
I think this is a progression. I hope with every record to get better and better, both vocally and as a songwriter. I don’t think there was a huge shift in the sound, but it’s a step forward, closer to what I want my sound to be. With every album, I’m shaping who I want to be and what I want to sound like as an artist.
NYMM: You’ve got a lot of love songs on the album.
JE: That’s kind of what I do. That’s what I’ve always been drawn to, and it’s the most natural thing for me to write. I usually write from personal experience, sometimes going back to the beginning of my relationship with my husband. There’s a song, Room, that I wrote for my sister and her fiancé when they were getting engaged. I was thinking about them, but I was able to write it because I had been in that place too. Prayer feeds into my songs a lot also. Sink My Feet was a prayer. Even some of the ones that sound like traditional love songs started with prayers.
NYMM: When writing love songs, how do you stay away from clichés?
JE: There’s a song on the album called Gotta Have You. That’s something we’ve all heard before. What makes it different has a lot to do with what you put around it and the instrumentation. If I feel genuine writing it, then I don’t worry about that. If you make art that is genuine, and it happens to have a clichéd phrase, well, sorry, but sometimes it feels like the right thing.
NYMM: Do you ever deal with writer’s block?
JE: I feel like I could finish most songs at any time, but sometimes I know that finishing it right then would not make the best version of the song. Sure, I could throw something in there, but it might not be right. Sometimes you have to write a lot of melodies that you don’t like until you find the right one. It’s about being patient and waiting for the right thing to come along.
NYMM: Are there any songs on there that are particularly personal to you?
JE: Just a Little While is a song that we recorded live, in one take. It is just me and an acoustic guitar. It’s a lullaby that I wrote for my husband. He has an incredible story, dealing with tragedy in his past, and that song is my way of speaking to him. The title is based on the premise that in time everything will be healed. For us, what we believe is that we live our lives with the hope of being whole one day, in heaven, and that everything that is broken in our lives now will be made whole on the other side. It’s all the words of comfort that I could think of to say to him. I need the words of that song, too. I need the truth of it.
NYMM: How do you remind yourself that you’re doing what you should be doing?
JE: On a typical day, I may feel great and be sure that I’m doing what I should be doing, but in the weeks leading up to a new album release, I have days where I’m pathetically insecure [laughs]. It’s ridiculous. It means a lot when anyone gets in your corner and helps. I definitely have people in my life who believe in what I’m doing, lend a hand, and reassure me a lot. It’s easy to compare myself to other artists and think about what they have that I don’t, but these days there’s no one way to do the independent artist thing. Everyone has to create their own stories.
You can find more Jillian Edwards here:
Photos by Jon Karr / www.thatverynextthing.com
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