Lena Birtwistle has a new confidence these days — and to go with that, the Ladysmith singer-songwriter has a new album and a new musical name.
Birtwistle is releasing her first album as Emerald Specks, called No Sound, this week.
No Sound was actually recorded in 2012.
“I tried to release it in 2013, but I wasn’t really ready, and then everything kind of came together this year, and I finally got it,” said Birtwistle. “Then the name came to me, Emerald Specks.”
The album features two original songs by Birtwistle, two songs written by former Ladysmith resident Sid Johnson — who performed with Birtwistle as The Adamantines — and three covers: “Washing of the Water” by Peter Gabriel, “Do You Realize” by The Flaming Lips and “House Where Nobody Lives” by Tom Waits.
“I got to work with really amazing artists, both musical and otherwise, throughout this process, and everyone was so fun to work with,” said Birtwistle.
Birtwistle worked with Ladysmith photographer Sean Sherstone for the album’s cover. They took photos for the cover, which features more than one Birtwistle in different poses, inside Post Office Antique Mall.
In 2012, Birtwistle was ready to record, but she didn’t have very many original songs. She had been working with Johnson for about four years by this point, and she sang lead on two of his songs, and she was singing the three cover songs.
“I thought ‘seeing as these are the strongest songs I have, I’ll do an album of this’ because I just knew it was time to record; I was ready to do it,” said Birtwistle. “But that’s all I had. I didn’t really know what I wanted going into the project; I just knew it was time to start recording, and I really felt like it was like a bunch of pieces of other people all lumped together.”
So Birtwistle thought the antique store would be a perfect location for the album cover photo shoot because it’s filled with other people’s stuff.
“The original idea was to have a head and an arm and a leg removed from my body because I felt like the whole idea of it all was so detached from me,” she explained. “So Sean experimented with that. He said the torso without the limbs on it looked really weird, so he ended up just placing the other bodies in there. I like it; it looks really cool.”
When people ask Birtwistle where she came up with the name Emerald Specks, she says it was through a lot of meditation.
“The name, to me, sort of symbolizes the Emerald City from The Wizard of Oz, the city of hope and love, and so when you’re being true to your own internal journey and you’re finding your way to that place inside that starts to open you up and make you stronger and connect you to a higher creative energy, then the specks, that all is shared with everybody around you, so you end up affecting everybody,” she explained. “I’ve been working on so many little steps inside to let go of a lot of old stuff and to get stronger and feel more gratitude and positivity. My creativity really opened up last year, so now I’m actually able to share all of this new stuff I’ve been creating and confidently release the album and material and not be as afraid of letting people see who I am.”
Birtwistle is switching her Facebook page to Emerald Specks and has a new website at www.emeraldspecks.com and a new logo.
To celebrate the release of No Sound, Birtwistle will be performing in Ladysmith and the area in late June and early July.
She performs June 24 at the Dinghy Dock Pub on Protection Island with Ma Petite and Erika Wilson; June 27 at the new Duncan Garage Showroom; July 3 at the Longwood Brew Pub in Nanaimo; July 5 at In The Beantime Café in Ladysmith; July 11 at The Vault Café in Nanaimo and July 12 at Char’s Landing in Port Alberni.
You can download No Sound through www.emeraldspecks.com, and Birtwistle has CDs for $10. After June 18, the album will be on iTunes and in stores around Ladysmith.