For me, Veda Hille‘s album The Return of the Kildeer has always been a hushed, magical wonder that more people in the world should have the chance to fall in love with. The songs all play out like sweet little machines, clicking and chiming along, written and arranged so perfectly. Since hearing it when it came out in 2005, I knew I wanted to make a record with Colin Stewart, the producer who manned the boards on it – and with whom I’ve since recorded three full-length albums both with Woodpigeon and Frontperson. (When I told him it was Kildeer that made me fanboy his work, he was taken aback. Nobody else had ever mentioned the record to him, which received far less attention than it truly deserves).
While I love every song on Kildeer, there’s one song called ‘Where Am I From?’ that, as short and small as it may be, has indelibly affected my own songwriting and lyrical sense. In fact, every time I’m asked to either speak about or write about a song that’s moved me, ‘Where Am I From?‘ always comes immediately to mind – and at times, I try holding up what I’ve written next to this song to see if it can exist in the same room. Only then do I feel ok about putting something out into the world. At the Dublin Fringe a few years ago, I played the song to a rapt audience in a large theatre where a group of musicians was asked this same question, and while all the other songs received a 30-second clip, the host of this particular show let this one play all the way through because it’s truly that kind of song. You can’t listen to a snippet of it to get its true power – it’s a song requiring a deep breath, a cleared mind, a full attention.
Are there any sweeter words about life and place and living and loving than, “Into each life must fall some rain / now that is true / where I come from / you love the rain or move away / which I didn’t do / I love the rain where I am from“? Like she also sings, “Every cloud has a silver line,” and I think that’s absolutely true, and especially when we feel a little bit trapped or stuck where we are, ‘Where Am I From?’ tells a tale of someone finding solace in what most people would find to be the worst aspect of a certain place. I also lived in Veda’s Vancouver for a short while – and seeing her around town and saying hello is definitely something I miss – I’m one of those people who couldn’t take the rain and chose somewhere else that works for me. As I type in a café, Montréal is covered in snow and it’s almost -20 degrees outside, already full-on into the season that convinces most people this city isn’t for them. But while Hille is OK with the rain where she’s from, I feel the same way about the snow – and sometimes when the light hits it just so, there’s a silver line there too.
Mark Andrew Hamilton – Woodpigeon