WINDSOR, N.S. – Terra Spencer wraps listeners up with her gentle voice and effortless strumming of the guitar. Her music captivates. Her smile can be heard in the lyrics she sings.
Known for sharing her creativity on her Facebook page and Youtube, Spencer decided to work with Jake Smith, co-owner of Moe’s Music School in Windsor, to get the disparate songs she’s been writing organized in one cohesive package.
The result is Other People’s Lives, her debut album, which released in January.
Spencer wants people to know the aptly-named album isn’t autobiographical.
“A lot of these songs are about challenges and relationships and I feel very lucky that it’s not about me,” Spencer said with a laugh. “People often assume that you’re just writing pages out of your diary and that’s not entirely the case.”
“For my long-suffering husband I wanted to make it clear, this wasn’t about us,” she said, again, with a giggle.
For Spencer, writing songs happened almost by accident after she decided to give it a try about four years ago, waxing about odd conversations she would come across, like people on Facebook debating about vaccines.
As her songwriting continued to develop, she began to take the craft at heart, eventually realizing that she wanted to capture her creations and make them more permanent.
The collaboration with Smith was also a first for him. He had recorded music before, but this was his first complete package. He contributed many of the instrumentals on the record as well, including learning drums for the effort.
Spencer’s song Cotton Mill, a collaboration with Stewart Legere, about the textile plant in Windsor caught the attention of music fans as a lament to the old landmark. That song appears on this new album, too.
Music taking off
“At a certain point the songs seemed to fit together as a story on their own, and that’s when things really started to get exciting,” she said.
Spencer said her musical journey started to coalesce when she was asked to sing back-up vocals for her friend and fellow musician Ryan Cook.
“I toured with him on his last record and I’d kick off the show with a few of my own songs,” she said. “Just being active in music again really got the ball rolling.”
She began work on Other People’s Lives on New Year’s Day 2018, playing her first ever solo show the night before.
She wrapped up production on the album in January 2019, closing off a year-long adventure.
“The recording itself was very much so an experiment for Jake and I. This is the first album he’s produced himself. He’s recorded music before, but never actually put together a whole album with someone,” she said.
“There’s a song that kind of sounds like a voicemail on a machine and it’s a bit unusual how we put these together. We really had no idea what anyone would make of this. We felt a little nervous whether we pulled it off.”
She’s already on the road with Ryan Cook again on his tour through Quebec and Ontario after playing a few shows closer to home after the album released.
“The response so far has been so, so positive and it’s still pretty fresh,” she said.
She’s also heading out on a tour of the U.K. and Europe following the Canadian shows.
“It just seems very serendipitous that I had this project and here’s this opportunity to take these songs on the road with someone I know and have worked with a lot,” she said. “It’s really worked out in a perfect way.”
“It’s been kind of unbelievable. Working with people I really admire has been the best part this whole journey.”
More information on Spencer’s new album and tour can be found here.
Other People’s Stories is co-produced with Smith at Moe's Place in Windsor. The album is Spencer's first collection of stories featuring nylon string guitars, piano, and collaborations with Stewart Legere, Mike T. Kerr, Steve Reid, and Sarah Kasprzak, Spencer’s daughter.