There have been plenty of stories of albums recorded while holed up in cabins in secluded locations, often documenting and dissecting a failed romance. Krista Polvere undertook a similar process in a basement in Virginia but in her case the relationship was still in motion and the partner in question was also the album’s producer.
With the self-titled album’s first single ‘Shut Up & Ride’ nearly a year old and the EP it appeared on having been released back in February, one wonders why it’s taken this long for the finished full-length, which Polvere “believes is my best album so far”, to see the light of day.
“I took a few months off after exhausting myself playing 55 shows last financial year and now I’m ready to go again,” she states reassuringly. “I just needed a break. I got the flu twice over the year and needed some time out and to get my energy levels back up. There’s no rush to get it out, I’m on my own clock and I’m my own boss with my music. I don’t have anyone breathing down my neck telling me to hurry up which is nice,” she explains.
With the relationship at the heart of the new album now over, Polvere is happily settled back in Australia and has enough geographical and emotional distance from its inspiration and process to measure the pros and cons of the creative experience.
“I went through a rough patch with relationships and when I made the album I was involved with the guy who produced it and we were in a long-distance and long-term relationship. That made for an inspiring musical journey but personally it was very challenging and a really dark time. I think that’s reflected in the songs and production. It’s quite a revealing, honest and unique album for me,” Polvere confesses.
“There were a whole range of emotions going on all the time. Two artists together brought out the best in each other musically. I was wanting more and he would try harder and vice versa but then there were arguments and lots of stress. It was an unusual experience. The lyrics and the stories behind them, there is nothing in there that’s contrived, it’s all just part of what I went through with him. It put stress on us but it made us better artists for sure. Without the recording the relationship would have fallen down anyway.”
“If I could do it all again I don’t know that I would, it took a big toll on me. Musically I did walk away with something that is beautiful and will be there forever. The record took eight months to make so it was a long and intense experience, but I’m proud of it,” says Polvere resolutely.
How then, in the aftermath of all she’s described, does Polvere feel when she sings these songs live? Does revisiting the emotional scars from an unsustainable relationship take her right back to those eight months in Virginia?
“I can separate myself from it because I’ve definitely moved on emotionally from him. I’m really in a good place and that door is shut. It doesn’t make me feel sad or nostalgic. I can separate it and think of the album as a beautiful thing, thank God!” laughs Polvere.
With so much already achieved over her three albums, plus live shows and collaborations with names such as Ryan Adams, Steve Earle, Ron Sexsmith and Calexico, Polvere seems both content and excited by her continuing artistic evolution.
“The first album (Here Be Dragons) is sweet and innocent when I hear it now and the second (Reservoir Drive) is a bit of both. I’m always learning and growing but so far this is the peak accumulation of who I am as a woman in the world, trying to figure out how I fit in and what things inspire me. This album is a great representation of that. It’s a much more confident album I think. It’s a woman who knows where she’s been and where she’s going.”
This interview was first published in Rhythms magazine