Folk singer Martha Scanlan on Centerstage Minnesota
A sense of immediacy and spontaneity shines out throughout the 14 songs on Scanlan's 'Last Stars First Light.'
Folk singer Martha Scanlan joined Centerstage Minnesota Friday, March 10, to talk about her latest album, Last Stars First Light.
The album was made with her longtime friend and collaborator Jon Neufeld. The two would send ideas back and forth from their respective homes in Portland and western Montana, sometimes recording live over tracks just received. That sense of immediacy and spontaneity shines out throughout the album's 14 songs.
"He produces records and stuff and had a pretty diverse amount of instruments in his home studio, and I also have a little studio out back," Scanlan said. "Oftentimes it was, you know, really early in the morning, which is how the record got its name, Last Starts First Light, because it was quiet. And I actually love that time of day. ... It just is such a, kind of, otherworldly place."
Scanlan said she and Neufeld took an improvisational approach to the album.
"There's an old fiddler in Tennessee named Ralph Blizzard, and his band used to say that he never plays a song the same way once," Scanlan said. "And I think of John in the same light. The record was interesting. Usually, our process in the studio is we don't record for more than three days. We take the first or second take and everything is very immediate, and we like it to be that way.
"So in this process, this was after things had shut down. So during COVID we couldn't be together and we started working on this project. ... We started kind of playing this game where he would send me things and I would wait until I was listening to it and hitting record to start playing, or vice versa."
Scanlan, who grew up in St. Paul, joined Malachy Koons on Centerstage Minnesota to talk about the album, and her creative process. Listen to the conversation above.