With a little help from her friends

Fans and friends helped make Cara Luft’s new album a reality

  • Born and raised in Calgary, singer-songwriter Cara Luft has lived in Winnipeg for the past 12 years. Luft, who was a founding member of The Wailin’ Jennys before leaving the band, will release her third solo album at the West End Cultural Centre on April 13.

When Winnipeg-based folk and roots singer-songwriter Cara Luft posted a video on YouTube in March 2011 asking fans to help fund the recording of her new album, Darlingford, the results were, in her words, “mind-boggling” - in a good way. She initially hoped to raise $15,000. In the end, fans donated over $32,000 to make the project a reality.

Luft says she funded the album this way for a variety of reasons. Her first two solo albums, 2000’s Tempting the Storm and 2007’s The Light Fantastic, were funded in part by donations. She was also tired of getting rejection letters when applying for grants.

“At some point you’ve just got to go, you know what? It doesn’t really matter what these industry people think,” says Luft, 37, who will celebrate the release of Darlingford with a concert at the West End Cultural Centre this Friday, April 13.

“I mean, I guess it kind of does in the big picture - you want people to give you a positive review and stuff like that - but the people that matter the most to me are my audience and my fans. If they are the ones that love what I’m doing, and if they are the ones who want to get behind me and support me, then that’s really what it’s all about.”

It’s funny when you go through painful, shitty things. If you can express it in a way that people can relate to, it’s a really magical, beautiful thing.

Cara Luft

Recorded at various points between September 2010 and April 2011, Darlingford takes its name from the small Manitoba town in which most of the album was recorded. Luft tracked much of the album in a 100-year-old church in Darlingford, which is located roughly one hour southwest of Winnipeg.

“I really felt this need and desire to record in [a] really calming space,” Luft says. “Old buildings - churches, place like that - they have a particular feel about them for me and I feel very comfortable and relaxed.”

It’s a highly personal record for Luft, who produced the 13 songs herself. She wrote many of them after the unexpected end of a four-year relationship with a man who was not only her boyfriend, but her musical partner as well.

But to avoid writing songs that focused too narrowly on her own experience, Luft co-wrote some of the album with Lewis Melville, a multi-instrumentalist based in southern Ontario known for his work with the Rheostatics and the Skydiggers.

“I wanted to write about the relationship and about friendship and family and all sorts of things that came up after the break-up of the relationship, so I think it was a smart plan that I went and co-wrote with my friend [Melville] because he really helped me focus on how to write a song that has universal appeal so that people can relate to it in their own lives,” Luft says.

She’s already played a number of the songs live and found that they resonate with audiences, who will sometimes come up to her after the show and share their own experiences with her.

“It’s funny when you go through painful, shitty things,” Luft says. “If you can express it in a way that people can relate to, it’s a really magical, beautiful thing.”

See Cara Luft live at the West End Cultural Centre on Friday, April 13 with opening act The Other Brothers. Advance tickets are $15 at the West End Cultural Centre, Ticketmaster, Music Trader and the Winnipeg Folk Festival Music Store, or $18 at the door. Doors open at 7:15 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Visit www.caraluft.com.

Cara Luft performs the song “Charged” from her new album.

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