Heather Nova - 300 Days At Sea

Childhood, memory, loss and hope
Heather Nova  - 300 Days At Sea
Growing up as an artist is more painful than puberty. First of all, you’re doing it in the most public sphere, secondly, you have demanding fans who want more-of-the-same-thank-you-very-much and thirdly, good music, like good wine, takes years to filter through. Debut albums are the result of at least seventeen years of sensually-packed experience written at a time of acute sensitivity. What record label is going to hang around another seventeen years, especially when you’ll then be comfortably mortgaged and the wild hormones have been replaced by therapy and yoga?

So Heather Nova’s eighth studio album is a phenomenon. She is one of the rare female rock artists who’s sustained a credible musical career over two decades and she’s proved that age is no limit to creativity. After commercial dead-weights of the expected acoustic album ‘Jasmine Flower’, Nova returns to the exuberant mysticism first outlined in Youth-produced ‘Oyster’ which catapulted her into the international arena in the ‘90s. Steering away from the pop anthems of ‘South’ and ‘Siren’, she clings to the more cragged tracks which give her 360 vocal range a change to prove age hasn’t withered it. Tracks like ‘Moon’ and ‘Turn the Compass Round’ tug at deeper waters and ‘Burning To Love’ and ‘I’d Rather Be’ strip down to the elementals before powering forwards over rugged wakes at full throttle.

Rumour has it it was a Heather Nova concert which inspired a shy Scottish singer-songwriter attending with her boyfriend to pen ‘Suddenly I See’ and certainly the keen melodic influence can be traced in fearless tracks like ‘I’d Rather Be’ and ‘Save a Little Piece of Tomorrow’. But then darker melodies like ‘Stop The Fire’ and ‘Burning To Love’ hint at Nova’s ability to articulate heavier, more complex social issues.

Arguably this album started when a fisherman led Heather Nova out through the reefs of Bermuda, and showed her the wreck of her childhood home, the yacht 'Moon' lying on the seabed, sparking off a series of songs that would become the central theme of Heather's eighth studio album ‚ '300 Days At Sea’

"I can't describe the feeling" says Heather "to be floating in the water above my childhood home, and to see her ruined on the seabed."

The fisherman, a fan of Heather's music, had dived down to retrieve the ship's compass from the wreck and returned it to her. The compass had found its way home.

"I was overcome with emotion and started to cry. So many memories came flooding back from my childhood: The magic of those days, the incredible adventure that my parents had taken us on in order to fulfill their dream – and that they had risked so much for. The symbolism of the compass finding its way back to our family was intense.“

Heather was inspired to start writing and from this an album about childhood, memory, loss and hope grew . It marks a return to the full band sound Heather used on 'Oyster’ and ‚Siren’; reuniting her with the original musicians and production team from that period.

"These songs needed a band" said Heather " there was more passion and feeling that I wanted to bring out in the music. I recorded it beside the sea in Bermuda to catch the restless feel of the waves here. I felt I was bringing my music home to where I belonged after 20 years of touring. It was as if I had not only pulled up the compass, but that the songs too had followed me up from the deep."

" '300 Days At Sea’ is how it feels when you are deep in a songwriting session. There is no sense of arriving, just the peace or the storm of being in the moment with the music, but finally both the land and the songs appear and you realize you have arrived somewhere."

The album was recorded in Heather's home on a small rocky island using only solar power. "I wanted to make a big rock record, all about atmosphere and texture, so I went back to both the guitarist, David Ayers, and the producer (and my husband) Felix Tod, from many of the 'Oyster’ sessions . Geoff Dugmore, who played on ‘Siren’, played drums. It was pretty intense, but wonderful."

‘300 Days at Sea’ is a rush to the head and a roar through the sea. Although she promises to be a soft, warm earth-mother, Nova is still demonstrating the steely siren-qualities of a time-proven rockstar. I, for one, don’t believe for one minute that she’d rather be on the ground than ‘travelling at the speed of light.’

Words by Jaime Scrivener

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