Heather Woods Broderick, Lean Year
Imagine me listening to these recordings. IV needle in the top of my hand. Headphones blaring. I always sit by the window. It’s beautiful out. Just a window away. Outside. Free. Not in there. Not with the needle. But out in the woods with my dog, with the tree that I like, that makes such a calming sound when the wind blows, and its leaves sort of sparkle too. That’s part of how this album was made. It seems dramatic or maybe tragic, but it’s not. Or more importantly, I don’t see it that way and I don’t intend for this music to be heard that way. It’s just the truth of what was happening in my life while I was recording these songs.
To begin to explain what PETRA is we have to go back a few years to when my wife and I moved back to Youngstown, Ohio, where I’m from. It’s around this time that we got a dog. A german shepherd. My wife has wanted a dog more than anything since she was born. That’s a true statement, not an exaggeration or a cliche.) She waited thirty years and finally came Petra, our dog. She named her Petra because the name means “rock”. We needed a rock. We needed grounding. YVe had just moved back home. YVe didn’t have a place of our own. We were sort of searching for whether or not this was even the right move. Petra held us together. Her need for routine and structure helped give us some focus too. She got us outside everyday. Out to the park, out in the woods.
Also around that time I was recording my last album Reconciliation. I recorded that album with my brother at Peppermint Productions in Youngstown. Peppermint is a special place. It was opened in 1971 by Gary Rhamy, who is still the owner and engineer. (Gary is best known for his work mixing and engineering many Grammy nominated and Grammy winning polka records.) That album was written and recorded in two parts; one before I knew I had cancer and one after. I had some pretty intense back pain at the time which was being caused by Multiple Myeloma. I immediately started treatment and also immediately wanted to finish the album. There’s a part in the movie One More Time With Feeling, where Nick Cave says something about the “prophetic nature of songs”. I didn’t have that language at the time, but it’s a really good way of putting how I felt about the music I was making. The songs I wrote for Reconciliation weren’t originally about me. They were partially about my dad finding out he had MS in his late 20’s. That sudden shock and sudden change. Now here I was in my late 20’s with this news; all of a sudden these songs were unfortunately about me as well.
Heather Woods Broderick excels at distilling her experiences into a soulful melancholy that’s enduring both for it’s intimate relatable moments and its persistent sense of mystery. Her uncanny ear for evocative production and gorgeous vocal harmonies serves her well on her new album Glider. Throughout the album, the rich dreamlike atmospheres she creates hint at a darkness looming on the horizon, while the singularity of her ethereal voice always seems to linger long after the music has stopped.
“There’s such beautiful atmosphere to the record and to the song.” —NPR’s Bob Boilen
“Lean Year have managed an impressive debut.” —Pitchfork
“It’s a gorgeous piece of ghostly folk-rock, like a flickering transmission coming through an old radio from a lost place and time.” —Stereogum