By Andrew Ellis, Editor
A review from their first record accused singer-songwriter Breanne Marie of not being authentic. It’s one of the worst, most personal attacks an artist could receive.
“I had a seething review about my vocals,” she says. “A critic said that I was pretending to be country, something they said I’m not.”
It’s a remark that stayed with her.
Learning to Own Her Voice
“I’m a Minnesota mom,” she says. “I was born and brought up in country music, and it’s what I love.”
For a while she consciously tried not to be that. Then she realized that no one knows who she’s trying to be better than her. She gave those outside opinions the metaphorical middle finger.
“Instead of trying not to be what people think I am trying to be, I decided to try not to give a shit and just sing the damn thing,” she says. “That has been freeing and I think it comes out on this EP and it’s been evident in at our shows.”
She’s referring to their current EP, Salt in the Snow. And even though it clocks in at just over 16 minutes, the renewed confidence is all over the record. She and the band know who they are, critics be damned.
Help From the Council and a Trip to Nashville
This record is also different than most. The funding for this record came courtesy of the Quick Start grant the band received from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council in Duluth.
“This particular grant is up to $1,000 for artists to pay for opportunities that were unplanned and funding is needed on a short notice,” she says. “We used the grant to pay for a 12 hour recording session at Welcome to 1979 in Nashville.”
Visiting Music City is a dream to any country music lover. But to record there, even just a single, is a dream many artists flock to the music mecca for. And it was no different for her and her backing band the Front Porch Sinners, but they only had 12 hours to get it all done.
“Everyone rolled up their sleeves and worked really hard,” she says. “By the end of the night we were getting a little loopy from lack of sleep and sunlight, but we did it!”
Choosing the songs was relatively simple and was helped by a fixed studio date. Marie wrote during the whole winter. She brought every finished one to the band for a run through.
“If it didn’t click right away, we moved it to the ‘Not Nashville’ pile,” she says. “The ones that worked out right were the ones we spent time on.”
Digging Into the Salt
The EP’s theme revolves around surviving Minnesota’s long winter months, which their song “North Moon” addresses directly. “A Mother’s Prayer” is a message for her kids, and “Let It Shine” is a call to action for people to be more open about the struggles in their life.
It also includes one of her most personal songs to date, “Midnight Intersection.” Her brother Tim was killed in a car accident in 2009 at midnight in Duluth, MN. Every year on the anniversary of his death at midnight her mom and sister-in-law go to replace the plastic flowers at the scene.
“I have never gone but two years ago my mom asked me to go,” she says. “This song is my emotional response to going for the first time.”
The original title of the EP was actually going to be North Moon until she wrote the last minute “Salt in the Snow” and it became everyone’s favorite. It’s the one song that Marie says is more about a feeling rather a story.
“It really came to life in the studio with all of the instruments shining through,” she says. “It’s a catchy tune that’s really fun to play. I think it’s a good title for all the songs on the EP. Let’s play music and dance our way through winter.”
Always Looking Forward
An artist’s work is never done, either. She and the band already have songs in various stages for what will be another full length. But they’re taking their time with these to make sure each song is at its full potential. It’s hard balancing it all with her day job and being a mom, but luckily she’s got everything she needs.
“I’m grateful to be able to write music and have such a talented group of musicians that bring it all to life,” she says. “Is there anything better than this? Probably not.