Letitia VanSant’s debut album Gut It To The Studs was released eighteen months ago and had several memorable tracks on it which suggested that her decision to move from secure employment to the uncertainties of a music career wasn’t that bad an idea. She releases Circadian in February.
Very delicately, ‘You Can’t Put My Fire Out’, the opening track on the album is an emotional masterpiece. The song takes you through VanSant’s journey of recovering her self-worth after a violent encounter. The lyrics take you on the journey over time from the silence of not screaming, to the emotional weight of “Too long you’ve lived inside my mind”, to the external view “You never cease to poke and prod”; …and then to recovery “I’m the one who’s speaking now/You can’t put my fire out” and the final two verses of recovery. This is pretty powerful on the page. Watch the video below and you’ll see what VanSant does with it as a song – tentative, delicate finger picking at the beginning growing through the song to hammered strumming as her self-worth is reasserted.
This is followed by the second track, ‘Tin Man’, a song about an individual or a song about masculinity? Dunno, but this too is rather good – the song’s narrator wanting to be let in emotionally to a man who won’t let her, taught by his father that “boys don’t cry” and not seeming “to understand that your pain becomes mine”. The title, ‘Tin Man’? This is also rather lovely contrasting the narrator’s question of “Am I banging on the hollow chest of man made of tin?” with the later line referencing the Wizard Of Oz “Even the Tin Man was searching for a heart”. She describes the song as: “Our culture makes it very difficult for men to be emotionally vulnerable. I don’t know what it’s like to be a man, but I know what it is to be a person who loves one and wants to connect”.
The Americana style that VanSant plays is known for dissecting emotions but these two songs are sophisticated and beautifully match the music, the melody and the emotional tug of VanSant’s vocal to the lyrics.
Other highlights include ‘Most Of Our Dreams Don’t Come True’. Is the central image of losing a stillborn child an individual story or a metaphor for us all (or both)? Again, dunno – but the vocal and the playing are lovely and at its finale it’s another tale of overcoming, so that you can “stand up tall”.
‘Circadian’, the title track, was inspired by an article about light pollution and is a reflection on whether we should simplify our lives and “sing along/The music the world made before we/Drowned it out with all these machines”. The final track, ‘Rising Tide’ shows that VanSant can (country-)rock it as well – a lively end to the album, but still with a thoughtful-cum-vicious lyric about the modern world in which Wall Street money has “plans for our pockets, cigarettes for our lungs/Poison for our babies and bullets for our guns”.
Circadian is Letitia VanSant’s second album and you feel she is leaving behind the label of “emerging talent”. Just take out “emerging”, there are some rather good tracks on this album. She is on tour in the UK from Late April to early May, details on her website.
Artist’s website: https://www.letitiavansant.com/home-1
‘You Can’t Put My Fire Out’ – live: