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Le Ren today shared “May Hard Times Pass Us By,” the final single off her debut album Leftovers out October 15th via Secretly Canadian. Her warm, sonorous voice sings of deep love and devotion on the LP’s standout closing track, premiering at FLOOD Magazine alongside an Ali Vanderkruyk-directed video. “This song is really close to my heart. It was written for someone as we worked through a turbulent time in our relationship,” explains the Montreal-based artist (née Lauren Spear). Leftovers—produced by Chris Cohen and featuring contributions from Buck Meek and Tenci, among others—is available for pre-order here.
“May Hard Times Pass Us By” follows previous singles “Dyan” and “I Already Love You.” “The final instalment of the Leftovers video tripartite, ‘May Hard Times Pass Us By’ begins where the ‘I Already Love You’ video ends,” explains Vanderkruyk. “Lauren’s mother drops her off at an undisclosed location and drives away. The story continues in the rehearsal and disrobing of a sad jester character, played by Le Ren as the actor. We shot the video at Tir-na-nOg Theatre School on Bowen island / Nex̱wlélex̱m, where Lauren grew up performing.” Leftovers’ singles have collectively earned praise and support from NPR Music (All Songs Considered – “gorgeous voice”), Stereogum (“warm and expansive…both vulnerable and elaborate”), Paste, Gorilla vs Bear (“another glowingly tender gem from her exquisite new album”), Brooklyn Vegan, Consequence (New Sounds playlist), Jeff Tweedy’s Substack, and more.
With the release of her Secretly Canadian EP Morning & Melancholia in 2020, Le Ren earned comparison to the deft musicianship and sparse, eloquent lyrics of John Prine and Neil Young. On Leftovers, she shows us the vivid depth of her sonic and thematic range, writing with a bold clarity that finds her a home among classic icons like Joni Mitchell, Vashti Bunyan, and Karen Dalton, as well as a new class of folk extraordinaires, such as Adrianne Lenker, Jessica Pratt, and Laura Marling.
Leftovers presents equal parts melancholy, love, and levity to lift up the mournful as it stitches together a patchwork of personal songs about different relationships: those we share with mothers, lovers, and friends. Spear created a physical quilt to mirror the assemblage of stories that comprise her album: a coming-of-age collage that collects over four years of past experiences and finds their present meaning. “When I think of leftovers, I think of things that have been cast aside,” she says. “When they’re picked back up or remembered, they can be repurposed… Leftovers came to mean a collection of feelings and moments of the past that still remain relevant to my present.”
The resulting ten tightly executed tracks are united by the swooning pluck of Le Ren’s guitar and her crystal clear timbre of her voice. In April 2021, she met with Cohen in a rented house in Portland, Oregon, where they had to wait for a neighborhood boy to stop making noise outside before they could record. The album came together much like the patchwork of her quilt, with collaborators Kori Miyanishi, Cedric Noel, Saltwater Hank (Jeremy Pahl), Eliza Niemi, Kaïa Kater, Aaron Goldstein, Buck Meek, and Tenci (Jess Showman) recording their parts separately from across North America.
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