Kellie Loder describes her most recent album “The Benefit of The Doubt” as a transitional album, and in many ways it is.
On the album, Loder transitions from a Juno-nominated Contemporary Christian artist to embodying a contemporary folk/pop singer/songwriter’s aesthetic. She also transitions into taking on more production responsibility, co-producing eight of the album’s 10 tracks.
And following “The Benefit of The Doubt’s” release and tour, Loder herself will transition by re-locating to Toronto from St. John’s.
However, when Loder takes the stage Thursday night at the Rotary Arts Centre in Corner Brook, the performance will also mark a return of sorts. It’s a return for Loder to a place she once lived and studied, but also a return for several of her songs: a return to the place they were born.
Looking back on her past work as Contemporary Christian artist, Loder is grateful for the experience, but says the role it gave her placed strict limits on what kind of songs she could write and record. Yet, “The Benefit of The Doubt,” which consists of music that Loder describes simply as the “kind of music that makes you feel,” Loder tears into 3-4 minute polaroids of pure life experience. Pop songs that carry within their melodies the traces of a life lived.
On the album, Loder writes about love, about that sensation of packing what seems to be your entire life into cardboard boxes as you begin to move out of a much lived-in apartment. She writes about feeling judged, sensations that she believes fit in nicely with her songs’ recurring ability to connect with their listeners as individuals.
In a past life, Loder was a nursing student in Corner Brook, ultimately leaving in 2012. Yet, it was during this time that a number of the songs on “The Benefit of The Doubt” were initially written, a fact that augments the sprawling geographical history of the album itself. (Some tracks were recorded in St. John’s, some in Los Angeles).
One such song is “Playground,” a country-tinged waltz that explores themes of love and romantic attachment, and now finds itself as the third track on “The Benefit of The Doubt.”
The song, like several others, was kept on the backburner for years, until Loder began working on a new album, seeking out some of the older material she had that didn’t fit the mould of a strictly spiritual or Christian album.
Loder says she met producer Justin Gray at a songwriting workshop in St. John’s a couple of years ago. After the two hit it off, Gray (who has produced for the likes of Mariah Carey and John Legend), invited Loder out to L.A. to do some recording for what would come to make up some portion of Loder’s new album.
Loder says Gray helped her with the writing of some material for the record, and then produced two songs himself. One day, while in the studio, Gray insisted that the two go down the road to record some drum tracks for one of Loder’s tunes. When they arrived, the drummer turned out to be Smashmouth/Ringo Star drummer Randy Cook. And yet, what was most shocking for Loder was not who the drummer was, but how he played on her tracks.
“It was a surreal experience,” she says. “Watching someone record one of your songs as if they have been playing it their entire life.”
Now, with the album — which combines a recording process that spans two years and countless miles in travel — Loder says she is looking forward to taking the songs on the road. Loder plans to re-locate to Toronto next month, so the tour, in a way, is a last chance for Newfoundland to catch Loder before she departs.
As for returning to Corner Brook, Loder says there should be plenty of nostalgic moments.
“I spent a lot of time on Brewed on West Street,” she says. “That was my spot.”
Loder performs with bassist Tyber Reardon and drummer Chris Donnelly Thursday night at the Rotary Arts Centre beginning at 8 p.m. The event will be opened by Corner Brook duo, Bridget and Dahlia.