Jenn Grant has been up since 4am to do breakfast television, after a late finishing gig the night before. Don’t believe what that tells you though, because she may be the perfect person to ask about Gwyneth Paltrow’s new book on the concept of “clean sleeping”.
After all, unlike the urban Ms P, Grant spent her first ten years in the relatively pristine environs of Prince Edward Island and she and her producer/musician husband Daniel Ledwell live overlooking Lake Echo in Nova Scotia.
A place where, as Fairfax writer Michael Dwyer discovered a few years ago, she might be found washing lentils and making a nutloaf before an interview.
You want clean? You want sleep? You want clean sleeping? Take that colonically-irrigated, mindfulness-minding Gwynnie!
“I’ve never heard of clean sleeping,” a perplexed Grant says. “Though it sounds amazing. I’m all over the process of having wonderful sleep.”
If Paltrow, or we, need any help with sleep though, Grant has “a few tricks” to help out: switch off devices; no devices in the bedroom; a lavender bath; magnesium before bed. Magnesium? There’s another book in that!
“I think [Paltrow] already knows about magnesium,” Grant concedes.
But you would not rule out an advice book or some wider-focused effort from the Canadian despite her mild tones and typically Canuck self-deprecation which, along with one of those almost too pretty to believe it’s real voices, won over Australian audiences two years ago.
Yes, her previous album, Compostela (and isn’t that a Paltrow/eco-friendly title?), which was nominated for album of the year at the Canadian music awards in 2015, was close and intense, and focused on grief and an inward journey.
A typical line was “every now and then I think of you and where you might be now/my memories are just a version of the truth, I know you’ve left and I know the breeze”.
However, her sixth album, Paradise (and isn’t that a former Mr Paltrow-friendly title?) released this month, has that still in parts but also gets far more exploratory and outward looking. Literally.
A typical line on Paradise is “I’ve been all over this world but I still can’t save you [for someone for whom] this world is not enough”.
You don’t start off your album with something as big sky-sounding expansive as the title track, or follow it with the star-gazing electro pop of Galaxies without intent.
“I wanted something new,” says Grant. “I feel like the songs on [Compostella] come from a place of feeling protected and with this album I wanted to feel giant. I wanted to get out of myself. I wanted to be more bold.”
Those who have followed Grant for some time would not be surprised to see her changing direction: having no pattern is essentially her pattern.
Her first album featured the great Canadian writer of beautiful sad songs, Ron Sexsmith, and she toured with indie rock band The Weakerthans; she recorded her second album on a farm and has collaborated with folk/hip hop artist Buck 65.
And of course, since it’s almost legally mandated in Canada, she has covered Leonard Cohen, but also covered – wait for it – John Denver.
Going from roots to rock to folk to something almost dramatically pop is adventurous, but it does ask your audience for more than most audiences have to deal with.
“I’m always relieved on a show up to a show and they are still there,” Grant laughs, but then points out their numbers are growing, as is her connection to them. “They’ve got this big personality, as a group of people. I feel like I know them.”
There may be a book in that too. Let’s ask Gwyneth.
Jenn Grant’s Paradise is out now.