Doty reveals vulnerability

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Music: Okotoks singer doesn't hold back in album Come Fall

An Okotoks-raised singer/songwriter known for her soulful vocals has no reservations about opening up in her latest album.

Emerging Canadian talent Ellen Doty said she’s laid it all out for listeners, vulnerabilities and all, in her sophomore album Come Fall.

“I’ve learned how to be more vulnerable as a songwriter,” she said. “When I first started writing I was afraid to get too personal with things. Sharing stories about your life through songs can be a little scary. It makes the songs real and powerful if I’m connected with them.”

Come Fall, which offers a mixture of pop, jazz, soul, folk and indie music, explores topics close to Doty’s heart with themes of kindness and love, with tracks like Give Love.

“Give Love talks about leaving behind a legacy of love no matter how long you’re here and being conscious of showing kindness and generosity to people behind you,” she said.

Doty, now a Calgary resident, had success with her debut album Gold in 2014. It reached the top 10 on several college radio charts in Canada and the year prior she received the Outstanding Soloist Award from the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival at the University of Idaho.

When it came time to record Come Fall, Doty was ready for a new approach.

“Since doing the first project I spent a lot more time trying to figure out the sound that I thought would be more personal in defining the music and artist I want to be,” she said. “I spent a couple years writing and experimenting a lot with different types of instruments to get this sound. I learned to be more patient with figuring it out.”

The instrumentation and sound varies widely from Doty’s original CD.

“It’s very open and lets the music really breathe nicely and leaves room to hear the stories and feel the emotion of the music,” she said. “I’m really proud of the project. I think it’s my best work so far and I’m really excited for people to hear it. Come Fall invites listeners to fall into the music and dive into it fully, to really let it wash over them and feel it in the same way that I did when I was creating it.”

Doty arranged for a band for the album’s instrumentation, but decided it wasn’t working while recording in a Toronto studio.

“It wasn’t sounding just right even though everyone was incredible,” she said. “One of the producers suggested late at night when everyone left that three of us try playing for fun and see how it sounded. We loved the sound so much we thought what if we made a whole album sound like this and we did.”

There’s no bass, horns, background vocals or layers, just Doty’s vocals, Davide DiRenzo on drums and Mark Lamala on piano.

The songs were created with co-writers like Justin Rutledge, Andy Stochansky and Danny Vacon. Among Doty’s favourites is Favourite Sweater, co-written with Vacon, the front man for Calgary rock band The Dudes.

The pair partnered with Monogram Coffee in Calgary to promote the song. For every bag of coffee purchased in December customers received a free download of Favourite Sweater and $5 was donated to the Calgary Drop-In Centre, Doty said.

Signing to a record label for her second album provided a very different experience from recording her first – particularly in the way of support.

Doty collaborated on a cover and the consensus was a black and white self-portrait, which was shot by Calgary photographer Brendan Klem, who Doty’s been working with for three years.

Rather than covering her face with make-up and airbrushing techniques, Doty chose to be exposed.

“You can see all of my freckles,” she said. “The music is very naked and raw in a lot of ways so the photo reflects that. I wanted it to relate to the music.”

Doty is hosting a release party for Come Fall in Bella Concert Hall at Mount Royal University March 3. Tickets cost $35 and can be purchased at http://tickets.mru.ca/ellendoty

She is currently making arrangements for a concert in the Town’s of Okotoks upcoming performance season.

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