The crisp tread of autumn leaves. The galloping force
of a cross country car ride. SAINT LOW'S debut
album came out last year and sent writers into a scribbling
frenzy. Furiously the metaphors came out, in a vain
attempt to create a visual equivalent to the aural evocations
,that Mary Lorson had created.
As an indication of the power of Lorsons' music, not
one scribe came close. Like the best music created by
her other band, Madder Rose, "Saint Low" was a dignified
suite of songs with an air of smoky, seasoned elegance
to them, from the devastating "Crash" to the majestic
"Johnson City Run", "Saint Low" was a captivating contender
for album of the year. With a new Saint Low album "Tricks
for Dawn", just completed, and a screenplay in the pipeline,
we talked to Mary Lorson for whom the overused title
"artist" seems entirely appropriate. Crud asked Lorson
how it felt to be the primary creative force as "Saint
Low" after years of collaboration in Madder Rose.
"There's a band dynamic that can develop between the
primary songwriter and the secondary songwriter"She
said, alluding her status is Madder Rose: Billy Cote
writes the bulk of the material.
"Eventually the secondary person has a whole pile of
work that's been essentially rejected by their friends.
It feels kind of crappy, like high school where peer
pressure prevents you from expressing yourself. So you
make a change".
Change she did, taking complete creative control of
the Saint Low project:
"I had definite ideas about the kind of sounds I wanted"
she says about producing the album alone, "As I write,
arrangements regularly present themselves to me and
so I incorporate them into my ideas of the final production
as I go along."
One of the distinguishing elements of the Saint Low
album in comparison to her work with the band was the
use of organic instruments; cello and organ. Thus helping
to create a warm, layered sound .How conscious was it
to incorporate there more traditional, folksy instruments?
" I think I was always less afraid of crossing rock
boundaries than the MR guys were-but we weren't really
that afraid; I think we were just limited."
As has been pointed out "Saint Low" evokes a vivid sense
of the visual. As a screenwriter herself, how does Lorson
see the partnership of image and song?
"I have studied film" she says "As a musician I am pretty
aware of the musical choices that get made in films
I see.. A subtle music can stir the emotional soup and
colour in the silence between characters. Billy Cote
and I have been scoring-so far we've only done short
indie films "And how are they finding that experience?
"We're loving it and finding it incredibly empowering".
With the new Saint Low album to be released in March.
She plans to finish the film she has been working on
concurrently. After that, she promises to "try and relax
a bit". Singer, producer, songwriter, filmmaker, we
asked her how she manages to keep all these artistic
plates spinning in the air?
"I really just do it" she said "My attention span is
brief and there are so many things I want to do that
I just rotate all these venues. I used to try and fight
it, but now I think that as long as I return to the
projects I've got going rather than starting up too
many new ones. I'll be able to get some work done and
hopefully maintain some sanity".
Interview and report by Priya Elangasinghe for Crud