Lynne Hanson jokes that “half my songs are about me and half aren’t, and I’ll leave it up to the listener to figure out.” But in the case of “Long Way Home” from her upcoming seventh album Just Words, which Billboard premieres today (Jan. 14), Hanson is happy to identify herself as the subject.
“I’ve been sober for eight years now,” she tells Billboard, “and I’ve made that long walk home from the bar or wherever I was coming home from many, many times in my life. So it’s a really personal song for me. When I was writing it, I could really see the movie in my head. I could see the character walking on the street, always on a rainy night. There’s a lot of movement to the song as well: The character’s running away from things.
“Sometimes when you’re writing about something that’s very personal like that you can get into a little more detail, because you have walked in those shoes. That’s why there’s a lot of detail in that song, imagery, that’s not necessary in other songs on the record.”
But there’s still plenty of other imagery, going on throughout Just Words, which comes out Feb. 7. Hanson recorded the set with producer Jim Bryson (Skydiggers, Oh Susanna) with a desire to expand her sound from what she calls the same rootsy, Americana type of approach into something more full and complex. “I was trying to be a little more conscious and a little more interesting in terms of my song structures while still staying within the realm of the genre I’m in,” Hanson, who has won multiple Canadian Folk Music Awards as half of the group the LYNNeS, explains. Bryson became a key ingredient in helping her achieve that.
“He’s very different than I am in terms of what he hears, his sensibility in terms of layering and things like that,” she notes. “There wasn’t much overlap, but we did overlap in terms of where the song comes from, the importance of the actual song and building from there. I felt like it was a good combination, a case of synergy where one plus one equaled three.”
Hanson is planning heavy touring to promote Just Words, starting in Canada and then moving on to Europe and North America later in the year.
Listen to “Long Way Home” below.