Honey-throated and soulful, and possessing a compelling growl full of grit and strut when she lets loose, Pearl Aday follows up her critically acclaimed 2010 debut with her new release “Heartbreak and Canyon Revelry,” ushering in a new dawn of California Country Rock. Joining forces with the venerable Jim Wilson, (longtime bassist for Daniel Lanois, Emmylou Harris and leader of Motor Sister and Mother Superior) Pearl once again proves how she is every inch a rock chanteuse who seamlessly moves from vulnerable to guttural in one measure. “Heartbreak and Canyon Revelry,” produced by Jay Ruston, is the natural evolution from 2010’s “Little Immaculate White Fox,” which was cited as not only “a noble debut” but tapped as leaving “a huge impact on the music scene” with “new female rock icon” Pearl likened to Ann Wilson, KT Tunstall and Shania Twain.
“When I grew up, there was music everywhere.” Pearl explains. “Music was always playing in our house, on the radio, the stereo, my family has always been submersed in music, my parents made sure of it. Their passion for all things music was instilled in me from birth.” This true musical diversity and unbridled passion for classic rock, hard rock, southern rock, classic country, soul, and R&B compels Pearl to explore a wide range of genres, resulting in songs that move from sweetly tender, humble and honest to those that drive hard and read both raw and solid.
Influences and inspiration are plentiful. “Some of my favorite bands are The Stones, AC/DC and The Allman Brothers,” she says. “As a vocalist, I just love really powerful singers like Otis Redding, Bonnie Raitt, Steven Tyler, Pat Benatar, my dad and, of course, Janis Joplin,” adding that it is Joplin’s moniker for which she was named. “My biological father played drums in Janis’ Full Tilt Boogie Band. She was an incredible vocalist and naturally an enormous influence on me.”
Pearl can’t help but wear her heart on her sleeve when she performs. “I’m drawn to an emotional and an empowered, almost spiritual vibe that I like to access when I’m writing and singing,” Pearl says. “Sometimes that comes across in angry and tough vocals alongside my deepest soft gentle side. For me, finding the balance between the two is what life is about, lyrically and personally.”
“Heartbreak and Canyon Revelry” takes its title from two central events in Pearl’s life: her move to Topanga Canyon with her husband Scott and the birth of their son, Revel Young, now 5 years old. “The writing for the album took place in what I’ve come to think of as one of the most potent settings ever for my creative process. And after we began our life here in Topanga, one of the first songs that came to me was “Revel Young,” which began to write itself when my son was a baby. There’s that mystical silence that comes over you when you feed your child and from this the melody and lyrics started to flow.
“The other songs mainly grew organically out of what Jim Wilson and I know is our tried and true method of songwriting over the past 13 years. He’ll feel a melody idea that he wants me to try out and he’ll play it for me; I’ll record it into my phone, take it home and add lyrics and we’ll go from there. For one reason or another, heartbreak is a common theme, with songs like “Sleepless Night or “Living a Lie” – these are tender sad experiences that we’ve all had, and the album formed itself that way around these sort of yin- yang themes– the deep pain of heartbreak intermixed with the deep joy and pure revelry of my new baby– my son sparked so many ideas. “Heartbreak and Canyon Revelry” is dedicated to Revel and to Scott. It’s a deeply personal album for me.”
Life changed for Pearl at her 26th birthday, when the members of one of her most favorite bands, Mother Superior, were invited to her party as a surprise planned by Scott. Mother Superior were still backing Henry Rollins at the time. Going out on a limb, Pearl asked the guys, “How would you feel about working with a chick singer? At first, they just paused and looked at each other, and I thought, ‘Oh, God, what did I just do?’ Then they turned back around to me and said, ‘Sure. Why not?’”
In 2004, Pearl began to work with Mother Superior guitarist Jim Wilson and bassist Marcus Blake. “From the first time we sat down together, it just clicked and Jim and I have been writing together ever since. Musically, he and I are very much on the same vibe plane.”
Pearl recorded her demo CD at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles, along with Wilson and Blake and producer Bruce Robb. Shortly after, she formed a nine-piece band including a 3 piece horn section and a B3 player, honing her sound and voice in the Los Angeles club scene. Not long after that, the group entered the studio with producer Joe Barresi (Tool, Queens of the Stone Age, Bad Religion) and recorded most of “Little Immaculate White Fox,” tacking on two more songs under the guiding hand of producer Jay Ruston, which marked the first time they worked together, a collaboration that Pearl says has truly blossomed over time. When it came time to make “Heartbreak and Canyon Revelry,” Pearl didn’t hesitate in asking Jay to collaborate once again.
Of this sophomore release, Pearl adds, “There’s something incredibly cathartic for me in this record. Writing and performing my music has always been my therapy, my safe place. In fact, I never sleep better than I do after a show, after I’ve been given the privilege of singing my guts out.
“I’ve come to realize that we are all in ‘this’ together – this world, this place in time – and if these songs give someone the feeling that they’re heard, understood, not alone, I’m elated. I mean, I could tell you what a song means to me, but it’s really about what it means to you. That’s really what it’s all about for me. Reaching out and sharing what hurts me, what scares me, what turns me on, and what makes me feel safe and strong. Chances are, most of us can really relate to each other much more than we give each other credit for. Music connects us. I only hope that my music makes you feel connected too.”