Lynn Miles
Home
Biography
Discography
Merchandise

CDs
Official Site
MapleMusic Newsletter
  
Sign up to keep informed of MapleMusic happenings


Lynn Miles
biography

Several years ago, Lynn Miles visited a friend who was incarcerated in a prison in Spain. The jail was an unpleasant one, she recalls, and her friend had been inside it for two years. Miles asked him what he and the other inmates talked about most. "His answer," Miles remembers, "was 'If somebody loves us. That's the thing that matters to us most; if there's someone outside who loves us and is thinking about us.'"

The same topic struck the Ottawa singer-songwriter after 9/11, particularly "all the people who were on the planes with their cell phones, phoning the people they loved." Because, Miles notes, "that's the most important thing."

Those two polar stories - one, a solitary man in a Spanish prison whose story had little impact on the world, and the other the greatest event of the last half-century - combined to inspire *Love Sweet Love*, the title track of Miles's latest album, a collection of 11 songs that explore the relationships between love, joy, longing, loss, despair, emptiness, reconciliation and redemption.

*Love Sweet Love*, Miles's fifth album and the follow-up to her 2003 Juno Award-winning *Unravel*, is at once intensely introspective and universal, with Miles combining her sweet, melodic and powerful voice with incisive lyrics. Fans will instantly recognize her familiar, almost comforting, darkness in *Love Sweet Love*, but may be surprised by the record's overall upbeat musical tone, as if the music is the light she shines into the shadowy depth of her - and ultimately our - soul. "I don't think you can have one without the other," she says, both of the album's simultaneous bright/dark coloring, and of life in general.

*Love Sweet Love* again finds Miles teaming up with *Unravel* producer and guitarist Ian Lefeuvre and drummer Peter Von Althen, both of Starling, and Chelsea Bridge double-bassist John Geggie to create a record of complex, visceral material. Rounding out the sound are Prairie Oyster guitarist Keith Glass and violinist James Stephens.

Born outside Montreal, Miles grew up in a musical home. Her father's jazz collection was augmented by her mother's love of both opera and country music. Her mother recalled once that she knew when her infant daughter had finally fallen asleep in her crib: Lynn stopped singing. Miles learned guitar, violin and flute at school, then switched to piano, and was writing her own songs by the age of 10, many of them inspired by the books she loved to read, and the music she listened to on the radio.

Miles's link between music and literature remains to this day. *Love Sweet Love*'s opening track, *Flames of Love,* for example, was the result of a long period of reading Sufi poetry. "I love the way the Sufis write about love," Miles says. "Their love is a spiritual love, and I reinterpreted it and wrote *Flames of Love*, about jumping in the fire and letting go and not being afraid, and letting it get hot and not caring about what other people think. Just really going for it." The idea - and the song itself - is exhilarating and exciting, yet full of hidden corners and alleyways from where the joy can be blind sided without notice. But as Miles notes, "You don't learn from happiness."

If that's true, one gets the sense that Miles has learned a lot. In a career that has seen her move from Ottawa to Nashville to Los Angeles and back to Ottawa, and release albums as varied as the slick *Night in a Strange Town* (co-produced by Larry Klein, of Shawn Colvin and Joni Mitchell fame, and featuring renowned west-coast studio musicians David Piltch, Dean Parks, John Cody and Tal Bergman) and the stark *Unravel*, Miles has consistently been unflinching in putting it all out there: the unreined ecstacy of new-found love, the fragile process of sweeping up the pieces when it breaks.

The accolades, meanwhile, continue to pour in. Her 1996 album, *Slightly Haunted*, was a *Billboard* magazine Top 10 pick for the year, while *Unravel* was praised by *All Music Guide*, which described it as "sounding as if it's been produced by Daniel Lanois in an Appalichian town" and "a diamond in the rough." Canadian folk-music icon Valdy once said, "I'm sorry for all the heartache she has to go through in order to get those juices going, but, yeah, she's marvelous." *The New York Times* summed up her music best when it wrote, "Lynn Miles makes being forlorn sound like a state of grace."

*Love Sweet Love* is a road album. Songs such as *Night Drive*, which Miles describes as being about "driving around in my Volkswagen for 12 years, and wanting to go home or wanting someone to be in the seat beside me to tell me that everything's going to be OK," and *8 Hour Drive* perfectly capture the lonely miles on a two-lane black-top. Others, like *Sweet and Tender Heart*, about accepting your heart wherever it takes you, and *Never Coming Back*, about coming to terms with mistakes made in a relationship, are very much road songs on the map of the human heart.

"I like the light in *Love Sweet Love*," says Miles. "I like the rhythms of the songs, and I like the journey you go on in this record. There are lots of hills and valleys on it. *Unravel* was like driving across the desert. This one is like driving down a real twisty, turny road. It's like a journey, like a trip in the car."