Laura Jane Grace has surprise released her debut solo album titled Stay Alive! The album features production by Steve Albini, and premiered on YouTube via Polyvinyl Records. Grace announced the album on Twitter following the album stream’s release. The album was recorded throughout the current COVID-19 pandemic, and incorporates themes of the pandemic.
Surprise! I just released an album… STAY ALIVE! 14 songs. All analog. Recorded by Steve Albini here in Chicago at Electrical Audio and released by @Polyvinyl Preorder is available for all physical formats, cd, LP, cassette, now streaming everywhere… https://t.co/4G7EbT6MTE
— Laura Jane Grace (@LauraJaneGrace) October 1, 2020
“Surprise,” Grace said in a post on Twitter. “I just released an album… Stay Alive! 14 songs. All analog. Recorded by Steve Albini here in Chicago at Electrical Audio and released by @Polyvinyl. Preorder is available for all physical formats, CD, LP, cassette, now streaming everywhere.”
The 14 album track is currently available for streaming, with pre-orders available for physical copies of Stay Alive! Beginning with “The Swimming Pool Song,” Grace starts the album on a fast-paced beat. The streamed premier of the album features Grace calmly reading a book as she takes a bath.
The album’s second track, “The Calendar Song,” finds Grace singing deeply as she’s accompanied by an acoustic guitar, her belting voice flowing over each lyric. “Shelter In Place” acts as a nod to the current pandemic, and incorporates electronic tones as Grace sings about the quarantine. “Hanging Tree” features pointed lyrics about the current politics and state of America, with Grace singing, “God is good and God is great/Now get the fuck out of the USA.” The track had first been written in 2017, however Grace felt the track was more relevant now due to the current racial tension that has been brought to the forefront of the news cycle since the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
“I sat around for a month-and-a-half at home just being shellshocked being like, ‘What the fuck happened and what the fuck is happening with the world,'” Grace said in a statement. “As I started to get my bearings, I just came to the realization that waiting was going to kill the record and kill the songs. I spent two years working on all these songs, and the idea of throwing them away didn’t sit well with me. But then I was like, ‘What am I waiting for?’ All I have to do is adjust my scope. I can sit here on my fucking ass and do nothing, or I can work.”
During a period of time where the entire music industry is shuttered, with music venues unable to invite in audiences, photographers unable to document concerts and touring staff stuck at home, unable to prepare shows for anytime in the near future, Grace felt that releasing an album would be a way to help the music industry “stay alive.”
“By putting the songs out, that puts the label in work, that puts a photographer in work, that puts a graphic designer in work, that puts a merch company in work, that keeps it alive,” Grace said in a press statement. “You hear on the news every day about people losing their jobs and everything collapsing, and I want to fight against that. The only way I can think to fight against that is to work.”
On October 17, Grace will be performing live at Lincoln Hall in Chicago as part of Audiotree’s “Staged” series to support the album. Grace recently appeared Lydia Loveless’ song, “September,” and she also joined in on the recent Bonnaroo Virtual Roo-Ality livestream this past weekend. Earlier this month, she was featured on the first compilation for Good Music to Avert the Collapse of American Democracy. Grace was also scheduled to take part in the NOFX livestream earlier this month, however she cancelled her performance due to concerns and anxiety related to COVID-19.
Stay Alive! tracklist:
1. The Swimming Pool Song
2. The Calendar Song
3. Shelter In Place
4. Return To Oz
5. The Mountain Song
6. SuperNatural Possession
7. Hanging Tree
8. Please Leave
9. Why Kant I Be You?
10. Ice Cream Song
11. The Magic Point
12. Blood & Thunder
13. So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Fuck Off
14. Old Friend (Stay Alive)
Photo credit: Raymond Flotat