Louisiana-based Cajun-American songwriter Renée Reed is releasing her debut album Renée Reed this Friday via Keeled Scales. It’s an album that honours her Cajun roots and Southern surroundings while using classic singer songwriter hallmarks to forge a unique path through observations on modern life. Reed is unafraid to sing about dark desires, hallucinogenic dreams and dating issues, switching between English and French to whatever best suits the mood she’s conjuring.
We asked her to tell us about some of the most influential albums on her life and work, and she’s come back with some absolute classics. It’s unsurprising that she’s chosen so many legendary songwriters, as her own work has the poise and poetry that comes from listening to greats like these – but crucially there is also a surreal element to a lot of them, which certainly manifests in her own hypnotically unwinding stories. Then, she finishes off wonderfully with a tip of her cap to her family, which is just as crucial as any of these, as Reed has grown up on the knee of her accordion-playing grandfather, which undoubtedly helped her absorb her family’s history and musical traditions from her earliest days.
Enjoy Reed’s picks below, but before that take a trip into her insecurities and uncertainties with the spellbinding “Neboj”.
Kate Bush – The Dreaming
While I was growing up my dad always had Kate Bush and The Beatles on, so they were pretty much the foundation of my earliest musical inspirations and fantasies. I consider them to be my gods. One of the records that was played most often was The Dreaming, and it’s grown to be one of my top favorites. It’s the perfect blend of mystery, sophistication, experimentation, and just so ahead of its time.
The Beatles – Rubber Soul
It’s honestly impossible to pick a favorite of anything by The Beatles because I really love everything. But I do always find myself going back to Rubber Soul the most. It’s a perfect meeting place between their early and later years, and has probably had the biggest influence on my songwriting.
Nick Drake – Bryter Layter
I remember hearing this record for the first time when I was a kid and thinking that it sounded like boring library music to me. Years later in high school, when I started writing songs on the guitar, it suddenly became one of the greatest things that I had ever heard, and I became obsessed with figuring out everything that he was doing on guitar as well as the feelings he captured in his writing. It still sounds like library music to me, but now I work in a library, so…
Bill Callahan – Sometimes I Wish We Were Eagle
[Drag City; 2009]
A few years ago, I was walking on my university campus with my headphones on and randomly decided to give this album a listen. I had to immediately stop and sit down on a bench. It was the first time I felt truly engaged and moved primarily by a songwriter’s lyrics, and I was blown away by the music too. Ever since then, I have had several interesting experiences of my life while listening to this record, so it means a hell of a lot to me.
Harry Trahan – A La Maison
This album was recorded by my family just a few years before I was born. My grandfather, Harry Trahan, leads the record with his accordion and vocals. His brother plays saxophone, while my dad plays fiddle and my mom plays guitar. This music is part of my earliest memories, so it is very sentimental and nostalgic for me. Aside from that, I just think it’s a damn good album, and I want the world to hear it.
Renée Reed’s self-titled debut album comes out this Friday, March 26, via Keeled Scales (pre-order).