JENN GRANT with RAE SPOON and OLENKA & THE AUTUMN LOVERS at the Horseshoe, Saturday (February 19), 9:30 pm. $15-$20. HS, RT, SS, TM. See listing.
The days of wallowing in heartbreak are behind Jenn Grant. Nowadays, she's just looking to have fun.
"That's my mantra," says Grant over the phone from her home in Halifax. "If something doesn't feel fun, I don't want to do it."
And why not? Since releasing her downbeat 2009 sophomore record, Echoes, things have gone very well for the ginger-haired singer/songwriter. She's mended her broken heart, found a new partner, got engaged, bought a house and, to top it off, released a critically acclaimed new album, Honeymoon Punch (Six Shooter).
Grant's firing on all cylinders, so it's no surprise that she's relaxed and cheerful in conversation. Then again, that may also have to do with her recent jaunt to Mexico as an act on an all-inclusive musical cruise organized by the Barenaked Ladies.
"I couldn't get Twitter or Facebook on the ocean, but if I could have I probably would've been talking about all the amazing free food available every hour," she gushes. "It was really awesome."
That jubilation extends to Honeymoon Punch. Where Echoes exuded an organic folk-roots vibe, HP's combination of electronic textures, hummable hooks and flirtatious swagger qualifies as it as a dance-pop record.
"They say it's harder to write happy songs," says Grant reflectively. "That's probably true, but I like to approach music in a pretty carefree way and not overthink it. I don't need things to be perfect, but I do need them to have the right energy. It's important to stay in the moment."
Though it may be her most laboured-over album, Honeymoon Punch sounds spontaneous, and much of the credit for that goes to her producer/fiancé, In-Flight Safety's Daniel Ledwell. By removing the separation between her personal and professional life, Grant was able, essentially, to live her music.
"Danny experienced the whole thing with me, not just the production part. While I was writing, he was there. While I was recording, he was there. We spent a lot of time listening to records together, which inspired what's on the album."
Grant pinpoints French pop band Phoenix as an influence, specifically their use of synthesizers and keyboards. There were also some odd ones; How I Met You, for instance, was written as a continuation of the 30 Rock theme song.
"While I was writing the record, I got sick with the flu and spent two straight days in bed," she says. "For 48 hours I didn't eat or anything, and I just watched 30 Rock. After hearing the theme song so many times, it got lodged in my subconscious."
Evidently, Grant can turn any material into a great pop song, which may be why she's all over the new album by Canadian hip-hop weirdo Buck 65.
"What I get from working with him I don't really get by myself, and I think that's important in a side project. He allows me to write with my voice in a different way and take my imagination to new places. Working with him has been really great.
"Everything's just going right."