Songwriters have such fascinatingly varied ways of working: some write for a project or album, some write daily or weekly, and some sit on songs for years. Heather Armstrong, however, works at a frantic pace, overcome by the need to get the songs out.
Writers sometimes call it lightning in a bottle. Armstrong’s debut album, Fearless Contribution sits squarely within this description. Written in the span of a few months, the record touches on themes that are timeless and does so with a positivity that’s contagious.
Heather Armstrong can’t help but want to share this music with people. She explains that it feels it’s a gift she has been given that she has to pass along; another common thread among writers.
Armstrong kicks it off with a classic feel on “Early Rising Rhythm and Blues,” introducing us to the band she’s put together: Josh “Dramer” Wagner (Percussion), Stewart Franck (bass), and Alex Buchanan (Piano / Organ). They’re are all able players and it’s a joy to listen to the way they support one another and bring color to these songs. Armstrong herself handles the guitars and couldn’t have been happier with her choice of musicians.
“I wanted it to be local,” says Armstrong. “We have so much talent here. The experience of seeing this album grow with so many different hearts feeding into it was spectacular.”
So much of this record moves and breathes; it grooves where it needs to, and gives space to Armstong’s guitar which. at times. feels like the awkward kid in the corner of the high school dance. It only becomes magical when you realize that it’s the awkward kid leading the band. Songs like “I Fly,” “Nowhere To Go,” and “Alone in a Diner,” all jump from a simple guitar line and get turned into something tight and catchy.
Armstrong explains that she wanted this to be an album that fought against fear; a companion and inspiration to all people who needed a reminder to just keep going. “Fear is a very strong feeling these days and I want people to know they aren’t alone,” she says.
Fear, insecurity (which is the title of the final track on the album), and depression have crept into Armstrong’s life, however, and it’s during times like these that she leans into her guitar and writes songs that help her through.
One of the best ways you can help yourself is to help others, and so we become the beneficiary of Armstrong’s self-therapy. She guides us through the uncertainty of love, the obstacle course of parenting, the pain of loss, and all the while she is there cheering us on. Songs like, “Bells in the Wind,” and “Taking Chances,” assure us that Armstrong is on the sidelines rooting for us all. After all, empathy is a trait handed down from her mother who used to say, “How would you feel if that happened to you?”
Heather Armstrong’s “Fearless Contribution” is a little fit; a ray of light she made and wants to share with you. The only thing she asks is that you pay it forward.
Written by Steve MacIntyre of 'The East Mag'