Drawing their name from the strong and independent female character of the same name in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Lady Brett Ashley emerged out of a series of RPM projects by Heather Nolan, and not unlike the character in Hemingway’s novel, the group has undergone plenty of change – both in terms of sound and personnel.
“I love folk music, but I don’t make it [anymore],” says Lady Brett Ashley singer and guitarist Heather Nolan, speaking of the group’s growth. The band started out as an all-female folk trio that quickly grew to incorporate bass and drums, before suffering a few quiet periods when members were forced to put the band on the back burner.
“I am kind of an all or nothing person, and I wanted it to be all, all the time,” Nolan says. “There would always be setbacks that I didn’t want to observe until they were setting us back.” Despite these challenges, Lady Brett Ashley reformed, and with a new lineup and new energy, set to work on their latest record this past summer.
The band’s current line-up: Nolan, bassist Brad Pretty, drummer Phil Kromer, and Arn Smit on keyboards and piano, are now stronger than ever according to Nolan, and the lineup made for a much more collaborative writing and recording process.
“Hunter” off Fault Lines:
“This is the first time that the four of us as we exist now – me, Arn, Brad, and Phil – wrote almost everything together, as opposed to me bringing a song and them filling in stuff … it’s not me writing a song and bringing it to the band anymore, it’s me writing an idea or a hook and bringing it, and all of us piecing the whole thing together. And it’s awesome,” says Nolan.
All this growth and change as a band shows through on Lady Brett Ashley’s latest release Fault Lines. “We knew exactly what we wanted to sound like,” Nolan says, “and we wanted it to sound like a rock record, not a folk record … I think there’s a pretty big gap between our last release and this one.”
The band’s full-length debut is a much bigger and more dynamic affair that shelves Lady Brett Ashley’s folk roots for a fuller rock sound. Driving drums, full and present basslines, and spacey organs and electric pianos expand the group’s sonic palette and support Nolan’s crunchy guitar chords and smoky vocals. Fault Lines is a grander, heavier, and more mature chapter for the band, and looks to carry them forward.
Lady Brett Ashley will release their full-length debut album Fault Lines on November 27th with a CD release show at The Ship Pub. Fault Lines will also be available during an early Lady Brett Ashley pre-release performance at Fred’s Records on November 14th. The group will be touring the island in early December and setting out across Atlantic Canada in the spring.