Bird Streets’ John Brodeur has spent much of the last few years brooding. Much of her new album, Lagoon, deals with deep emotions associated with separation and regret. So does the nature of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its global tumult. For Brodeur, one of the biggest wrecks thrown in the middle of it all came with his friend, Adam Schlesinger, who passed away on April 1, 2020.
He recalled: “In terms of keys thrown away, a major one came when my friend Adam Schlesinger died of COVID on April 1 of this year. After beating around the bush for ages, I finally approached him to work on some music and maybe finish this record together. We had planned to launch this spring. Unfortunately, we never got there. The shock of Adam’s death still resonates. He was someone I deeply respected and admired as an artist, and I will always wonder what might have become of this partnership.
This happened shortly after the United States began its initial pandemic shutdown. Brodeur’s last live concert was on March 11 of that year – as he puts it, “the day before the lights go out”. Months of planning for SXSW ended overnight. Brodeur shares that the lockdown has been “creatively suffocating” and reflects on how his new album—Lagoon– was originally slated for release in late 2020 before being delayed to November 4 this year.
Brodeur shares,” “Sleeper Agent” was one of the few songs I wrote that year, and it didn’t appear until six months into the pandemic. It reshaped my idea of what this album was going to be.
Indeed, the album’s opening track aptly begins with a statement from Bird Streets, who sings it bluntly: “I gotta say you, I’m kind of a mess.” An honest reflection of recent struggles, the melody seems ultimately victorious – at least knowing that the album is out now and Bird Streets is returning to the grind it originally planned a few years ago. What begins with a flourish of piano morphs into a light symphony of crisp electric guitars and rhythmic percussion, a string section subtly pulling emotive overtones.
Regarding the production of the album, Brodeur says, “Michael Lockwood came on the scene towards the end of 2020 when I realized that things weren’t going to go back to ‘normal’ any time soon. I wouldn’t say I was pessimistic about remote recording, but it was a concept I had to get used to.
“The positive energy and brilliant production ideas that Michael brought to the table made the process so much more engaging – he was exactly what this album needed to get to the finish line. I couldn’t be happier of the work we did together – or apart, so to speak. Michael was the person responsible for involving two of my favorite singer-songwriters, Aimee Mann and Ed Harcourt, in the album. For that reason alone , I am eternally indebted to him.
“The spirit of collaboration is at the heart of this project. After doing the last LP mostly with just one other person (Jason Falkner), I knew I wanted to add new ideas and voices to the mix, work with different producers and musicians, and allow myself to focus on being the songwriter. I had a lot to get out of my system and started collecting material from a bunch of sessions until I felt like I had a group of songs that sit comfortably together.
“With four producers and 18 musicians involved, it could easily have been a ‘too many cooks’ situation, but everyone who contributed (and that’s a pretty crazy list!) gave the best of themselves to the songs department. The creative energy of all these wonderful and inspiring artists makes this album what it is.
Regarding the album title, he told PopMatters, “I was using the working title A frayed knot until the moment we finished mixing, when I realized that this album did not deserve an ironic title. Lagoon had a more remote and secluded feeling to me – inviting, but also mysterious and a bit foreboding. Then I remembered a painting by Ada Langford that I had wanted to use as an album cover for a long time and realized that the title suited it perfectly.