In 2012, when I crowd-funded about half of the costs for my album The Living Record, I delighted in fulfilling the perks.

Most of them, anyway.

The t-shirts I did not plan well, and custom making them left almost no room for error, which put a lot of stress on my partner at the time who was the one doing the actual screen printing work… I remember us both near tears in exasperation, surrounded by t-shirts hanging off every part of our house: the bookshelves, the shower curtain rod…

Since then, I’ve only hired-out for screening printing. Phewf.

For my new album Long Time Leaving‘s pre-order, I’ve ditched t-shirts, personalized songs, wee pieces of art, and kept just my favourite extras to give you: a lyric poster, and the song story postcards. As for the latter:

I like to tell stories (this you know).

And I love sending mail. Postcards in particular for me conjure travel and wandering and thinking and remembering and reminding; quick hellos and short stories.

I first wrote song stories for my EPs Loved and Lost in 2011. It gave me a chance to give what I do on stage — offer back story, insight into my song’s origins — in a new format. It meant those stories could have farther reaches in their new mode of transportation.

For The Living Record, I wrote song stories for ten of the  album’s pieces, and I felt like I was letting you in on a secret; one I wanted to tell.

Most of the postcards were written while on the road: in a couple spare hours before a show, in  a park or coffee shop near the venue, or on a day off. Dropping a big stack of postcards into a mailbox in one fell swoop is a satisfying feeling. I have to admit: I never quite trust Canada Post. Maybe trust isn’t the word, it’s more that I don’t believe the system works and am always so impressed by it. I write your name with some numbers on a piece of paper, drop it in a box, and days later it shows up at your house?! Magic!

Anyway, when I decided not to do a crowdfunding campaign for this new album, I knew I still wanted to make some of the “perks” available and I picked my favourite. Here’s to spending time with pen and paper, to the squeak of the mailbox drawer opening and closing, to the journey of a postcard from my hands to yours.

As I write this, there are 11 days left to still get the song story postcards (the pre-order ends April 15th!) and you can do so here.

Then keep an eye on your mailbox come May. Spring and postcards are coming.

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I find it hard to think “write a letter” without getting a little Joni singing in my head.

In the liner notes for my EP “Loved” I wrote of the song “Day 4”:

A thank you note to a group of travellers for the three days (and nights…) we spent together in Amsterdam. So much was discovered in the intimacy of strangers, in the stories shared in the after-hours of a hostel bar, it changed my life forever. On day four, I became a singer.

The whole story is a long one, one I’ve loved to tell, one I used to tell quite often, but it’s been more than 10 years since my first trip to Europe, since those few days that changed me so.

I had only been taking guitar lessons for a few months and had written one tiny song on the guitar. In those after-hours, as the guitar was passed around the room, I took the chance to play my song for those gathered there. It was the first time I’d played a song of my own for an audience – an act I wasn’t sure that I would ever want to perform.

They listened, the room was hushed, and something HAPPENED.

There’s always that moment of connection in a performance, you never know exactly when it will occur but everyone in the room feels it when it does, and it HAPPENED, in that small short song in the back of The Last Waterhole hostel, in that instant. I knew then what I wanted to do. Of course little to nothing did I know of what an actual career as a musician would mean, but I knew making that kind of connection would be the sole driving force of my choices in the years to come.

It was thrilling; it was like falling in love. And every minute of it, leading up to it, was tied to the city.

I learned a lot in those three days, it set the tone for the rest of my trip and most of the traveling I’ve done since, and on day four, while sitting on the platform at Centraal Station for three hours because I missed my train to Munich, I wrote the first song that really felt like it was worth something. I play that song still, and it will always, I’m sure, be dear to me.

I hadn’t been back to Amsterdam since, until today. I was giddy to return, excited to be reminded and to remember, worried the city and I would look at each other and not feel what we felt when we met.

I wondered if you could fall out of love with a place… you probably can, but I haven’t with this one. Our three day fling of the past was rekindled with only a 5 hour layover, where I wandered until the streets became quiet and slow, I sat, listened, watched and remembered what light was turned on in me there, noticed that it still glows.

There’s a verse that got cut when we recorded “Day 4” in the interest of feel and form. I hadn’t thought of it in a long time, but in the afternoon sun today recalled:

This bench told me her secrets as she held me in the sun
We guessed at people passing us, at what they’d done
From the churches and the bicycles the bells are ringing
The rain provides a steady beat and we keep on singing

Now I’m waiting to board a plane to London, another city of my heart, another formative place of my past, and I sing sing sing.