First Listen: Gaelynn Lea, 'Learning How to Stay'

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gaelynn lea evrglo media (EvrGlo Media)
Gaelynn Lea - Bound By a Thread
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| 00:03:57
  • Gaelynn Lea - Bound By a Thread 03:57
  • Gaelynn Lea - Dark to Light and Dark Again 03:37
  • Gaelynn Lea - I See it Too 02:32
  • Gaelynn Lea - Jim and Judy's Wedding 02:45
  • Gaelynn Lea - Lost in the Woods 02:06
  • Gaelynn Lea - The Last Three Feet 05:36
  • Gaelynn Lea - Someday We'll Linger in the Sun 03:33
  • Gaelynn Lea - I Wait 02:51
  • Gaelynn Lea - Grace and a Tender Hand 03:03
  • Gaelynn Lea - Metsakukkia 06:29
  • Gaelynn Lea - Moment of Bliss 05:07

School is back in session and Gaelynn Lea is the popular kid in class on her third release Learning How To Stay, which features a large musical entourage including band members Al Church, Dave Mehling, Martin Dosh, and Andrew Foreman; with special guests Haley, Jeremy Ylvisaker and NPR Music's Bob Boilen. (He provides the static sounds in "The Last Three Feet.")

Lea is a classically trained and generally minimalist solo artist, and the new project marks her first step into new territory, which is best summed up by her friend and long-time collaborator — Low's Alan Sparhawk — who also appears on the record. "It's been a thrill for several years now to know and watch Gaelynn go from violin player to singer/songwriter and sonic innovator to now producer and bandleader," said Sparhawk in a statement. "Her talent and zeal for life has been the anchor all along and Learning How to Stay is her arrival as a full and great American artist."

The album comes as a follow up to The Songs We Sing Along The Way, which released two years ago in the immediate wake of her 2016 Tiny Desk Contest win.

On the new record, fans will be familiar with the classical violin and existential clarity of the lyrics, but songs like "Dark to Light and Dark Again," "I See It Too," "The Last Three Feet," and "I Wait" give the album a commanding new sense of urgency driven by her band's rhythmic weight and contemporary flare, which even breathes new life into her signature tune, "Someday We'll Linger In The Sun".

When asked about the title Lea said, "I was trying to figure out a connecting thread for this album because sonically the songs are pretty diverse. I realized that all the lyrics really focus on being awake and alert in the present moment, even if the moment is sad or uncomfortable...Ultimately this album about learning how to stay open throughout every situation."

The first show of Lea's fall tour is at Eau Claire's Oxbow Hotel on the album's release date, Sept. 7. The album is now available for preorder, and her next Twin Cities performance is Oct. 26 at Icehouse. Enjoy this exclusive preview.

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  • Watch: Contest Winner Gaelynn Lea's Tiny Desk Watch the singer and violinist who stood out from 6,000-plus entries in NPR's Tiny Desk Contest. Gaelynn Lea performs two of these four songs with fellow Duluth, Minn., musician Alan Sparhawk of Low.

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