Courtney Hartman has lived the musical vagabond life that many others have only written about. The Colorado-born singer/songwriter/guitar player left home to study at Berklee College of Music, toured with Boston-based string band Della Mae, recorded albums with Robert Ellis and Taylor Ashton, and hiked the 500-mile Camino de Santiago in Spain (which largely inspired her solo debut, 2019’s Ready Reckoner). After all of that, she returned to her family’s property in Loveland, CO, and took up residence in a Winnebago to (presumably) take a breath, then start writing the songs that would end up on her lovely new record, Glade, which she recorded in a barn on that same property.
After a decade of near-constant movement, Hartman began writing to find comfort in returning to a place she knew, but a home that had changed because SHE had changed, writing “songs to mend and remake who I was in such a tethered and familial place.” The first track, “Bright at My Back,” is the sleepiest of summer morning songs – “Do not let the light in/I’m not ready for the sight.” Guided along gently by Hartman’s acoustic guitar and violin work, the song pushes away distractions and luxuriates in the simple moment – “You are the sky, everything else is weather.” It’s the type of song that Hartman has proven most adept at – “Hold Still” from her 2018 album with Ashton, “Been on Your Side, is also hesitant to break a dawn reverie. Back here on Glade, “When I Wake” has Hartman beginning to consider the implications of the day – “Let the day be simple/Let my words be kind.” Between the lyrics and her ethereal vocals here, “When I Wake Up” reads as a quiet prayer as much as a song.
Glade and Hartman have their night side, too. “Moontalk” deals in late-night conversations – “Don’t fall asleep/I wanna talk to you/While the moon is talking too.” Regardless of daypart, though, the album is really about trying to find and reconnect with her physical and emotional home. “Home Remedy,” featuring gorgeous harmonies from fellow Coloradan Gregory Alan Isakov, has her trying to find that contentment in a partner – “Be my slow home remedy/Be my home” – with strings and trumpet filling in the spaces in the background. “Hideaway,” with subtle keys under her acoustic guitar, finds Hartman pulling away, if only for a moment – “I’ve gotta hide away in the foothills/Don’t try to find me” – but also realizing what truth her reprieve has brought her: “This was a summer of sifting through/But I’m the best of me when I’m with you.” And “Turning,” spurned on by a gorgeous string arrangement, shows an appreciation for those who make a full life out of what’s in front of them – “There you are making your mark/Bringing something beautiful into the world/There you are bruised in the heart/Still I see you turning, turning back to the field.” All of those travels, it seems, brought Hartman to find happiness in the very place where that journey began.
Song I Can’t Wait to Hear Live: “Marrow” – Maybe Hartman’s best guitar work on the album. And that’s saying something.
Glade was produced and engineered by Courtney Hartman, mixed by Brian Joseph and mastered by Philip Shaw Bova. All songs were written by Hartman. Additional musicians on the album include Gregory Alan Isakov (vocals), Russell Durham (violin, string arrangements), Shane Leonard (drums), Jason Burger (drums), Tobias Banks (percussion), Jesse Hartman (percussion), John Dehaven (trumpet) and Simon Chrisman (hammered dulcimer).
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