When a relationship ends in heartbreak it’s natural to look for solace, some take away, a minor win.
Even something as seemingly petty as, “Well, at least I got the dog,” can be that glimmer.
Deanne Matley got something better. She got the finest album of her career.
The local jazz singer laughs. “I totally did. Part of me’s like, ‘Should I say thank you to him in the liner notes?’ I’m like, ‘Nah.’ ”
That album, the artist’s fifth, is the sumptuous Because I Loved — the perfect 12-track pedestal for her pretty, polished, porcelain pipes.
It’s the culmination of a musical voyage that began with the 2016 breakup of her seven-year marriage and 12-year relationship, and sprang from the pain she felt, something that she admits she was blindsided by, had never encountered prior.
“I was so heartbroken. I was like, ‘Holy crap, I’ve never felt this pain before in my life.’ I’d been singing about heartbreak but I’d never really experienced it.”
She adds. “I didn’t see it coming. This is what I say: The universe hit me over the head with a big-ass frying pan and so I had to make a decision and it was one of the hardest things I had to do …
“But what I realized in that moment was I’d been avoiding heartbreak my whole life, it was like I didn’t want to feel this much pain ever. So growing up through my life I made choices, consciously I believe ,so I wouldn’t be ever hurt so badly — and it was this big realization for me. And now, I’m like, ‘Bring it on, heartbreak!’ ”
She laughs again, before turning thoughtful.
“But I realized, too, that even though I had all this pain it was like there was a scar on my heart, but it reminds me that I loved super deep.”
And that actually is what Because I Loved is about. Yes, the heartbreak, but also everything that gets you to that pain.
The album, featuring a lineup of eclectic covers — everything from Stanley Turrentine’s Sugar to Journey’s Open Arms — as well as a quartet of originals, contain what Matley describes as “all the feelings,” including the “desire, sex, and hot passion” that can get someone so deep in love that it feels like part of you has died when it ends.
Ultimately, relationship theme aside, the songs were chosen by Matley because she wanted to represent all sides of herself as an artist and a woman, to have an album that was, she thinks for the first time in her career, truly “authentic and real and me.”
“The freedom of me allowing (myself) to explore my feelings actually finally came through. It was very nice,” she says.
“I wanted the album to be really a great representation of who I am as an artist. Because, yes, I am a jazz vocalist, but I’m not a Diana Krall. I throw some spice down, but I can be so tender and intimate and vulnerable, and I wanted people to know this is who I am and here it is.”
That said, Matley acknowledges the actual recording of the album, much of the process behind what she calls the two-year “journey” to getting it made, was out of her control and left her feeling “vulnerable.”
First, there was the Indiegogo campaign to raise the necessary funds to make it. Then there was going to Montreal — now a city she calls her second home — to record the album with musicians she’d never played with before. And finally there was relinquishing control to producer and drummer Jim Doxas, something she admits was a wise choice, Because I Loved being as successful statement as it is as a result.
Now, Matley will release the album in her first home with a special concert Saturday, May 5 at Knox United Church.
So special is it that a few of the players from Montreal who worked on the album will be making the trip west including Doxas, and they’ll be joined by a handful of the “local cats” she normally works with, along with a string quartet from Bishop Carroll High School and a lyrical dancer who will accompany Matley on one of the album’s tracks, The After Thought.
“It’s all about creating the experience, right?” she says.
More importantly, the release of the record is about ending one leg of the journey and getting started on the next — something she’s thrilled to finally be able to do.
“To actually put the music out there, at this point I’m ready,” she says. “I’m excited to share it with the world.”
Deanne Matley releases Because I Loved with a show Saturday, May 5 at Knox United Church (506 4 St. S.W.).