Big changes make you take stock, singer-songwriter Kris Delmhorst says. Shifting from one phase of life to the next comes with some big-picture clarity. For Delmhorst it was parenthood that changed her perspective. The songs on Blood Test, due out next month, converge on that elevated form of appraisal.
“There’s something about becoming a parent which enabled me to tap into writing from a higher vantage point sometimes, almost like a more universal perspective on life,” Delmhorst says. “The songs are still very personal to me, but there’s something about having a child that sort of adjusts your sense of where you fit into the whole fabric of human existence, the whole continuum of family and life.”
Blood Test is her first collection of original songs since 2008’s Shotgun Singer. The album came out in April; in June she and her husband, singer-songwriter Jeffrey Foucault, became parents to a daughter.
She slowed the pace of her musical life. For a few years, she toured only minimally. In 2011, she released an album of covers, her take on songs by the New-Wave rockers The Cars. She calls it a “recreational project,” something fun but not as significant as a product of her own pen would be.
But post-motherhood writing proved a challenge. It took time “to really just get my entire brain back,” Delmhorst says. She needed all of her artistic faculties before embarking upon the consuming task of creating an album, and she couldn’t rush the process of regaining them.
“Making an album is really … you have to go deep, and you have to stay there for a while, and it took me a while to get back to that place in a way that I could really give it my full attention,” Delmhorst says.
By last summer, she was ready to make an album. She was past ready, in fact, but schedules needed to be arranged and a team needed to be put together. Delmhorst enlisted fellow musician Anders Parker as a co-producer and they were recording by the fall.
“It was a magical album for me to make,” Delmhorst says. That’s not just because it had been about six years since she’d recorded her own, original work. There was invigorating newness to the recording process. She was co-producing in a new collaboration. She was playing with new musicians. Even the songs themselves were somewhat new to her, as many of them hadn’t been played on a stage before, “so they had a lot of juice emotionally for me.”
Now she’s taking the songs on the road. For a few rare dates in the Northeast, including a performance at the Iota Club and Café on May 16, she’ll even be performing with the band that recorded on the album. Blood Test comes out May 13, and she’s embracing that new-album creative surge that it’s brought about.
“I’m just really looking forward to touring this record a little bit and having that new jolt of energy in my shows and just in my musical life in general,” Delmhorst says.
• For more information about Kris Delmhorst, visit krisdelmhorst.com.