Western Canadian Music Award winners Sweet Alibi released their fourth album, Make a Scene, on Jan. 28. The band consists of singer-songwriters Jess Rae Ayre, Amber Nielsen and Michelle Anderson, along with bassist Alasdair Dunlop and drummer Sandy Fernandez. The album was produced by deadmen duo Matt Peters and Matt Schellenberg and features Kyle Wedlake, Matt Walden, Todd Martin and Joel Green on sax and horns.
Sweet Alibi is known for their soulful harmonies and folky pop-infused music. In Make a Scene, they experiment with synths and electric guitar layered with sweet harmonies.
“The album was inspired by life experiences, changes, feelings and general everyday stuff,” Nielsen says.
Make a Scene, which was written over a year and a half, has no theme per se. Each song has its own unique inspiration.
“There is one about losing a friend, life on the road. There is one about a little bit of journey into sobriety and self-improvement. A little bit about trying to make the best out of difficult times,” Ayre says.
Ayre feels that the song “Slow Down” “goes along with what’s going on today. It’s a song about capitalism and just trying to slow down and step back from everything that we have been doing and the greediness in the world. The message is really good for today.”
“Each song ... (comes) from different places. We didn’t write the album thinking ‘let’s write eight songs all about one thing.’ That’s not how it has ever gone for us in an album,” Nielsen says. “We work on it and take it as it comes.”
The band’s creative process is different with each album. While it is hard to label, it involves fooling around until they stumble on something they like and finding time later to follow up on it.
“It’s kind of a game, though. You are chasing the song. It might change. Sometimes we forget songs for years that we have worked on, and then we come back to them,” Nielsen says.
“Even if the songs are born differently, they are arranged together,” Ayre says. “A lot of our creative ideas are shared throughout that process.”
One of Anderson’s favourite parts of creating the album was the recording process itself. The band spent time at various locations across the city while in pre-production mode, including at an old studio above the Good Will Social Club, Private Ear Recording and at band members’ homes.
The band is excited to get back on the road in a few months. Touring dates and a Winnipeg release with a local opener are expected to be announced soon.
“The pandemic hit a lot of musicians really hard. It’s like starting over again. We are lucky, because we have this awesome album to head out with,” Nielsen says.
For tour dates and more, visit sweetalibi.com. Listen to Make a Scene on all major streaming platforms.
Published in Volume 76, Number 16 of The Uniter (February 3, 2022)