July 21, 2009 marked the official release of a new disc by Alana Levandoski, a singer-songwriter with a significant saint ben’s connection.
very now and then on a Sunday evening, as we sing the opening contemplative song, I’ll hear this voice grabbing hold of some bit of harmony, and I’ll know that Alana is in town. Most Sundays find her either in her home town of Kelwood, located a couple of hours west of the city, or out on the road on tour. Whenever she can be in the city, though, she’s with us… and even when she’s miles away she keeps in touch with these great e-mails marked by delightfully quirky and insightful observations.
Well, today is the official “street date” for the release of her second CD, Lions and Werewolves. It was recorded in the little Anglican church in Kelwood and in Liverpool’s Parr Street Studios, under the watchful eye of producer Ken Nelson (best known for his work with Coldplay), and is being distributed by EMI.
A couple of months ago, I sat down with Alana for a Monday morning breakfast – she was in town for Sunday church, and had stayed overnight at our house – and we chatted about the the connection between music and faith.
“Being a songwriter and having faith at the forefront of how I look at the world isn’t always easy. It can feel clichéd. Believing that God has something to do with me and who I am is a comfort, but also something I wrestle with. That’s because of who I am. Sometimes I wish I could turn it off, but there are a lot of redeeming qualities in a lived faith.”
One of those redeeming qualities is how her faith has attuned her to other people’s stories, and particularly to stories of injustice and of pain. It is this careful attention to the stories of others that lies at the heart of Lions and Werewolves.
“The presuppositions that inform my attention to story are all rooted in God. I’m a messenger, in a sense. I’m not without bias, though. I don’t believe I could be. I’m planted somewhere. I’m conveying stories from my place rooted in a particular perspective.”
And many of the stories to which she brings herself are ones of deep struggle, even hopelessness. Alana doesn’t try to tidy up other people’s lives for them, nor is she even tempted to superimpose easy answers, pietistic moralizing, or happy endings. In her writing for Lions and Werewolves her goal was to share some of her insights about the stories she’s heard told, tell some truth about the shape of life, and leave listeners to sort out what they’re going to do about it all.
The CD should now be pretty easy to access, either as a download or as an actual packaged disc (which I’d recommend, as the packaging and inserted booklet are great). You can also hear some of the tunes for free by going to Alana’s MySpace site.
You can read an article about this project in the September edition of the Anglican Journal.