BY HAZEL REID

Singer-songwriter Jamie McDell has returned to New Zealand with fresh music in her suitcase. We caught up with Jamie to chat the new album release that features Dream Team and Poor Boy and discussed spending time on the other side of the world during the pandemic. 

Jamie’s new self-titled album has been in the works for quite a while, she mentioned that it was about 4 to 5 years ago when the first part of the record began. “I remember writing a couple of songs like Baggage Claim in this house in Papamoa and it was kind of a weird time, I remember sitting on the floor in the spare room. A while later we went overseas and the moment I separated myself from NZ and family, I really got into a rhythm with writing, I must have been in Toronto at the time,” Jamie shared. 

The pandemic has definitely impacted projects for many people, Jamie said that she was ‘lucky in the scheme of things’ with timing. “We’d collected all these songs over the years and we had finished recording in Nashville maybe a couple of weeks before the pandemic hit the world, by then I was back in Vancouver. I remember being like ‘thank god we finished recording’ as who knows when I would have been able to get back into the studio and try to piece the rest of the album together.” 

As I was listening to Jamie’s new record, it was evident that Jamie had grown since her earlier releases and had put her raw and honest experiences into her musical craft. I asked if Jamie could sum up the album in one sentence, she answered “This album is a collection of songs that reflect my journey in my late twenties and understanding more about my family and also my journey to feminism.” There are I’m sure many different things that people will pick up after listening to the songs that they could relate to, Botox is one of my favourite tracks and Jamie mentioned it was one that actually ‘shocked’ her as she hadn’t written anything like it before but was really excited by it. 

After finishing up in Nashville and getting back to Vancouver, Jamie then moved over to British Columbia and spent the early days of the pandemic there. “We happened to already have a friend who was a Kiwi living there and his partner is Canadian, she had a cabin on Denman Island which is just a small island off Vancouver. We ended up kind of in a bubble isolating there for those first few months when people weren’t really sure what COVID meant.” 

It’s no secret how picturesque Denman Island is (just check Jamie’s Instagram!) but it was also somewhere where Jamie felt comfortable and gave some home (NZ) vibes especially compared to downtown Vancouver where she had been previously. “It was incredible for creativity because it was so remote, you were surrounded by people you were really comfortable with, it was honestly like we’d gone back in time. It was so wholesome, we were growing our own food and building things, just really getting in touch with nature and having deep conversations,” Jamie shared.

Now that Jamie’s back on home soil, she’s looking ahead to being able to tour this album, “I’d love to play some shows and connect with an audience again, even some small ones that would be cool.” Jamie’s also looking forward to testing her guitar skills and performing Boy Into a Man and also Daddy Come Pick Me Up, due to its tempo, “I know when we recorded it we tried to make it feel really live and bandy as much as possible so I’m looking forward to those more kind of upbeat tracks being there.” 

Jamie is hoping to be able to get back over to North America soon with a priority of wanting to celebrate with the team of musicians that she’s worked with on this record. But for now, she seems to be happy to be on home soil, with local shows in her sights and the patience that the past few years has taught her for whatever is on the horizon next. 

Jamie McDell’s new self-titled album is available now. 

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