Award-winning Atlantic Canadian artists Ben Caplan and Terra Spencer release their 1st album together, Old News, Oct. 14th.
Award-winning Atlantic Canadian artists Ben Caplan and Terra Spencer have teamed up to create their first album together titled Old News, set for release on October 14, 2022. Combining Terra’s creative prowess as a storytelling songwriter with Ben’s first foray into music production, their upcoming album features intimate duets and compelling solo performances, exquisite musical craftsmanship, and the organic ambiance of listening rooms from long ago.
Old News is a collection of real and imagined stories, told by two very different voices; funeral director-turned-songwriter Terra Spencer was awarded Music Nova Scotia’s 2021 Recording of The Year for her self-produced sophomore album and coined “the real deal” by legendary Canadian artist Ron Sexmith. Explosive performer and newly-minted producer Ben Caplan has played some of the world’s most coveted stages including Glastonbury and SXSW, and was branded “an unmistakable presence” by the UK’s Independent Newspaper.
Raised on the mud banks of the Avon River, Nova Scotian funeral director-turned-songwriter Terra Spencer was recruited as a backup singer while scooping ice cream at a music festival. She can make you feel knee-to-knee with her in a room of 5 or 500 with her butterscotch vibrato, deft fingerstyle guitar, church bench piano, sly humour, and ‘70s wood-paneled warmth. Her startling knack for unraveling intimate stories caught the attention of Canadian musical mentors like David Francey and Matt Andersen (who chose their co-write Other Side of Goodbye to launch his recent album) and she has become a sought-after studio musician, co-writer, producer, and workshop facilitator. Terra’s self-produced second album Chasing Rabbits won Music Nova Scotia’s Folk Recording of the Year and received nominations for ECMA Folk Recording of the Year and CFMA Contemporary Singer of the Year. Her song “Feels Like Home” was named the 2021 Blues and Roots Radio International Song of the Year, which was followed by a full-band summer tour celebrating the golden anniversary of the music of 1971.
Ben Caplan is both the roar of the hurricane and the eye of the storm. He has an uncanny ability to channel both wild abandon and quiet introspection. His songwriting pulls from many diverse influences but both his music and his lyrics regularly draw from his Jewish heritage. Often mixing biblical imagery and klezmer inflected melodies, Caplan re-appropriates ancient sounds and themes with a decidedly contemporary twist. Ben released his first studio album in 2011, and has spent the last ten years recording music and performing to ever-growing audiences in music clubs and theatres around the world.
Ben and Terra are currently touring Canada and the UK in support of their upcoming joint album, Old News, set for release in fall 2022. “The real deal.” – Ron Sexsmith
In advance of their 1st joint full album release next month, Terra and Ben have just released their brand new single “Good Friends“, a cheeky, jazzy, call-and-response duet about friendship (and maybe something more). LISTEN to GOOD FRIENDS – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yW4aWKrRZs
Merging their extensive musical backgrounds and diverse tastes, Terra Spencer and Ben Caplan’s upcoming album unites the charming allure of the golden era of jazz with the authentic warmth of 1970’s analog recordings. Filled with the exciting contrasts of Terra’s tender vocal and Ben’s husky growl, the project blends jazz, folk and influences from across time to create “Old News” – a nostalgic, yet remarkably current album exploring longing, loss, and the gentle art of saying goodbye. With a friendship born over a cup of tea at Ben’s kitchen piano between lockdowns, the duo has since toured across Canada and the UK offering sneak peeks of this unique collaboration.
Reaching back to the glory days of jazz duets and the “are we, aren’t we” playfulness of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Terra Spencer’s adamantly fictional “Good Friends” paints the predicament of walking a fine line between friendship and something more. Producer Ben Caplan corralled some of the city’s finest jazz players at Fang Recording in Dartmouth, NS to capture a live-off-the-floor listening room sound and tipsy energy of the tune. With a dash of musical theatrics, a whimsical piano opening leads into the cheeky call and response between Terra and Ben. Featuring a horn section arranged by Matt Meyer, the track includes a notable horn breakdown, in which Terra and Ben can be heard giggling into the background – as “Good Friends” do – before giving the friendship a jovial nudge back into place. The song has been a highlight on their Canadian and UK tours, serving as the perfect introduction to this new musical pair of “Good Friends”. Terra and Ben’s new single and full album will be sure to delight both old and new fans alike.
Terra and Ben’s brand new album “Old News” will be released on October 14th, 2022
I got the pleasure to ask Terra a couple of questions about her career and the new album!
DEB: Q. 1. Do you recall that pivotal moment in time when you recognized music was going to be a large part of your life?
TERRA: “I think it happened when my granddad (a terrific musician himself) brought home an electric organ he’d found in a basement while cleaning a furnace. I took piano lessons, and worked really hard to prepare for recitals. As a singer/songwriter? That was an accident – I started writing satirical songs just for a laugh, but as they became more sincere, I discovered that songwriting is the thing that gets me up early and keeps me up late.“
DEB: Q. 2. Have you seen or felt a shift in the music industry since both your careers took flight many years ago?
TERRA: “Four years in, I still feel like a newbie in this business with a lot to learn! I grew up in an age where records were still something you held in your hands, cherished, and built a relationship with. I miss that in the age of random playlists. It is hard on the heart to realize how tough it has become for artists to make a go of a music career, even before the pandemic, when music is such a vital part of life. It’s also strange to have access to nearly the whole history of recorded music in the palm of your hand. That would have blown my mind as a kid!“
DEB: Q. 3. Who would you both say strongly influences you, then and now?
TERRA: “My heart belongs to the writers who tell stories in their songs. Stephen Fearing and David Francey have taught me a lot about writing, along with Ron Sexsmith and Randy Newman. Tori Amos lit a fire for me on the piano, and I am fascinated by the work of Judee Sill. I grew up listening to my aunt’s record stash with Elton John, Jackson Browne, and The Carpenters, and I still love those sounds. I’ll get stuck on a single song for days! Most of the music I listen to now comes from the incredible talent here on the Canadian East Coast – Museum Pieces, Jennah Barry, Pillow Fite, Stewart Legere, Daniel James McFadyen…we’re rich here!“
DEB: Q. 4. Have you different arrows within your quiver to write with, as I hear various musical styles presenting one unique piece after another, not one hit sounding similar to the next?
TERRA: “Musical genres are a nuisance, really. I think more about the sound of a single artist than a genre – individual voices and writers that I fall in love with. The term “singer/songwriter” comes in handy, and a lot of things can fit under the umbrella of folk. I’m excited to explore fresh combinations, which is why working with Ben was so appealing, both as a singer and as a producer. His musical appetites are much more exotic than mine!”
DEB: Q. 5. What was it like to come together to write and record Old News, during a pandemic?
TERRA: “Ben is a busy fellow, and not to look for silver linings, but I don’t think this project could have happened if we weren’t in lockdown simply because he tours so much. Ben and I had each already made pandemic albums in isolation on our own, so it was terrific fun to actually play live with a band, together in a room, the old-fashioned way. I hope that joy and energy in Old News comes through to the listener.“
DEB: Q. 6. Would you say your songs were based primarily on your personal experiences or your life in general?
TERRA: “Both. My songs tend to be pretty detailed – too much, I worry! But I chose these specific songs for this project because each one is about having to let go – of a love, a loved one, material things, a pet, a dream. We all learned a lot about letting go during the pandemic.“
DEB: Q. 7. Highlight aspects of your cultural background that make your music unique.
TERRA: “I am grateful for my experiences working as a funeral director – I started writing at the same time I began that work, and I think it gave me a new perspective on life and death and the details of each. Ben is very much unafraid to tackle death, politics, and religion in his songs, which is one of the things I appreciate most about his writing.”
DEB: Q. 8. Contrary to popular belief, making it in the art of music isn’t merely a game of luck, as it requires talent, strategy, dedication, and determination based on your vision and goals. Share with your fans your creative songwriting process, and how singles like Good Friends and albums like Old News came to be.
TERRA: “I have no discipline whatsoever when it comes to writing, but I can say that I usually feel most compelled to write when I should be doing something else. I’m a classic only child, so I really enjoyed writing the three duets on this album, and casting Ben as the voice of two other songs. It’s a different and very satisfying challenge than writing songs that I know I’ll be performing myself, and I am so thrilled with his delivery of them, and his handling of the songs as the producer. Nearly any song is better with a horn section!“
DEB: Q. 9. Some of the most historical and revered music has always played a deep role in the transformation of society. Some consider how their art relates to the current social-political landscape or how their music can address these themes. Does your music touch on social or political issues??
TERRA: “Occasionally mine do, but part of the reason this record is called Old News is because many of the songs are intended to sound like they could have been written 75 years ago. I love writing intimate, character-driven songs; however, one of the things I admire most about Ben is precisely the fearless and philosophical nature of his political songwriting.”
DEB: Q. 10. What does success mean to you?
TERRA: “Filling my notebook, having friends I admire to play songs with, and meeting kind people with the patience to listen. I’ve been shocked by the places songs have taken me, and grateful every single day. My family still loves me (last I checked), and I can afford whatever kind of sandwich I desire. That’s pretty great.“
DEB: Q. 11. What is next on the horizon for Terra Spencer and Ben Caplan?
TERRA: “In November, I’ll host an album release show in Halifax while Ben’s still touring in Old Stock, then we’ll reunite in Toronto and Montreal for two special shows. I’ve had the chance to work on some singles and albums with other good friends, and am excited to see those hatch in the coming months! And as often as I can, I’ll hunker down and write some more songs with the help of my two dogs!“
Thank you, Terra, for your time and great interview. Wishing you both much success on the album!
Stay in tune with Terra Spencer and Ben Caplan by following their social platforms below: