Duluth’s Sarah Krueger was feeling detached from her previously released work. She set out to a small studio near her hometown of Eau Claire, WI and in the course of two separate sessions, she recorded a collection of songs that have become Lanue (pronounced LA-new). The project stands confidently immersed in a fresh backdrop of creative talent. Still rooted in Sarah’s defining folk songwriting and her honest confessional lyrics, the surroundings are now more lush and bright.
Lanue’s self titled LP amplifies her warm vocals while developing layers of synths, guitars, and percussion. Enlisting the skilled collaborators of Steve Garrington (Low) and Sean Carey (S. Carey, Bon Iver) to assist with production and instrumentation while relying on JT Bates (Pieta Brown, Taylor Swift) on drums, and Ben Lester (Field Report, Sufjan Stevens) on pedal steel guitar, the foundational flowerbed was laid. Ryan Young (Trampled by Turtles) handled the string arrangements while Erik Koskinen rounded out the record with guitar. In return a patch of songs bloomed in those sessions that artistically pushed Sarah while keeping things comfortable.
Sarah pulled people together that she knew would work great together and have trust in each other’s abilities. The goal was to provide an experience that was laid back to allow space for the music to unfold.
“I think it solidified this idea that, to really feel like you can be at your best creatively, you need to feel both comfortable and also challenged, in a way that feels supportive and authentic to yourself,” shares Sarah.
Nobody heard any of the songs before going into the studio. That organic style of allowing a song to develop with everyone at the same time is felt in the album. That collaborative sense of writing and recording seamlessly weaves everything together. Without a lot of pre-planning, you give the song a sense of space it can grow in. The group would then sit down and play 3-4 times through each song, allowing the development to happen naturally together. This tapestry of music flows throughout all 10 songs.
The single “What I Love the Most” exemplifies the luster of her production choices. The pedal steel melts you into the song, while the guitar leads you right to Sarah’s sun-warmed vocals. The song itself is about this idea towards something that you really love, but realizing you’re harboring feelings of resentment and learning how to identify those feeling to eradicate them. It’s easy to relate this to a relationship, when you find yourself carrying these feelings and need to move past them.
“Some days I’m a martyr
Some days I’m a ghost
Some days I spend all my time
Hating what I love the most”
“July” is another song that instantly lures you in. The steady pulse of synth builds to a slowly blossoming collage of vocals, echos, and keyboard. Optimism beams out of the song as we’re drawn to the message of being back in the water and coming up for air. You can feel the visuals in the lyrics, which Sarah shares, is written quite honestly about swimming. On a metaphorical side, it’s about being in an arduous situation and finding yourself back in a safer and smoother situation. It can also represent what it’s going to be like coming out of the pandemic and sharing our experiences once more.
In listening through the songs, Sarah sews in her environment in Duluth. The water, the woods, the sun, and the seasons all find clever moments in this album. Together it becomes a journey where you’re ready to roll the windows down and breath. Lyrically it feels like we’re reading pages from a diary. The honest and authentic voice resonates deeply in “Oil Fields” and “Mexico”.
Sarah points to “Something Sacred” as her proudest song off the album. The exploring nature of the track is about this idea of what makes art good and what makes it work on us. Sarah wrote it thinking about how our own individual experiences influence what moves us, whether it be photography, music, painting, or films. The mysterious nature of understanding what’s happening behind our experiences is intriguing.
“So often people will latch onto something that someone else says is good or something that someone else was really moved by. There’s these gatekeepers or tastemakers telling people what to like. If we can quiet ourselves and connect what really moves us, that’s when we find some of those most magical connections with art individually”.
Lanue is strongly tied to an aesthetic that’s intentionally visual. Her idea of creating a synthesis or an idea of a synesthesia where our senses can cross and be heavily influenced by what we hear and see. Due to not being able to tour or play shows, Sarah choose to still offer a chance to receive a memento to hold in your hands and look over while you listen. It features song lyrics, photos, and collections of imagery corresponding to the album. This also includes a printed postcard for you to send a note to someone you hold dear.
Sarah shares the name Lanue came from the title of a poem she found on a thrift store shelf. Like a collection of treasures, the varied list of musicians and aesthetics are culled by Sarah. Hand picked and chosen without any tastemakers telling you what to like, thrifted and gifted for our personal journeys out into nature, Lanue is a powerful return for Sarah Krueger.
You can follow and find more information about Lanue at the links below.