Tanya Donelly at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), Wednesday (April 3). $15. 416-870-8000.
tanya donelly is playing blues Clues with her three-year-old daughter, Gracie. Which is a good thing for me, because I'm about to begin our conversation about her sophomore solo release, Beautysleep, by asking if Motörhead has changed her approach to music.
Just in time, I realize I'm misreading my own handwriting. The word is "motherhood," not "Motörhead." We both find this amusing.
The logistics, the job of being a musician, she tells me, have changed. She's touring less and keeping a lighter press schedule, elements that go hand-in-hand with her desire to "preach to the converted" this time around. Toronto's converted can see her Wednesday (April 3) at Lee's Palace.
"I feel like I've been convinced to spend a lot of years trying to convert new fans, pressured to put singles on the albums and get radio play.
"This time I'm settling into my niche instead of trying to win new friends."
The years to which Donelly is referring span two decades. In 1985, she founded Throwing Muses with step-sister Kristin Hersh, moved on to form the Breeders with Pixies bassist Kim Deal, spun off to achieve wild success and a Grammy nomination with Belly, then finally struck out on her own.
She released a solo debut, Lovesongs For Underdogs, that, she can now laugh, "really bombed!" It hurt, she admits, but now she sees it -- though she hates to use "horrible clichés" -- as a blessing in disguise.
"I don't think I would have had a child if I'd been caught up in another cycle of writing and touring. That would have delayed mothering for years."
Instead, four and a half years went by between releases.
The resulting album, much of which was recorded during Donelly's pregnancy, is beautiful, as solid as it is ethereal and airy, simultaneously sweet and spooky.
Especially eerie is Moonbeam Monkey, a duet featuring one of the last recordings of the sorely missed Mark Sandman, of Morphine, who died in 1999.
"When we went in to mix it we all started to cry," she says of the track. "The lyrics take on a whole new meaning now," she adds, referring to lines like "I am an angel dark, darker than loam...."
I want to know whether being knocked up made a difference in the recording.
"Well, those tracks are definitely slower. When you're pregnant, the tempo of your life really slows down."
Donelly goes on to admit that being pregnant "shifted everything. Music used to be my only self-definition, and that's changed. I like it more as a result."
"That would have been an interesting question."
Yeah. You gotta love Lemmy.