"It's the biggest project I've ever worked on, including my college thesis, and probably college in general," says local singer-songwriter Anna Laube. She's referring to her yet-to-be-titled third album, which she hopes to release within the next few months. She has been working on the record for more than three years.
If Laube's new song "Oh My! (Oh Me Oh Me Oh My)" is any indication, the record will be filled with the heartfelt Americana and catchy folk-pop of her previous work. The project also meant collaborating with local artists Anna Vogelzang, Nick Moran and Scott Lamps, as well as Nashville producer Skylar Wilson, accordionist Phil Parlapiano and Jason Quever of Papercuts, an indie band signed to Sub Pop.
A multi-instrumentalist who grew up in Madison, Laube found some of these collaborators by touring throughout the Midwest, the West Coast and Europe. Locally, she has raised her profile by making it to the finals of the Madison Area Music Awards and 105.5 Triple M's Project M songwriting competition. She plays Crescendo Cafe on Thursday, May 22, and the Wurst Times singer-songwriter stage at the Brass Ring on Saturday, May 24.
Songwriting in particular is a source of pride, she says.
"I recently realized I love the moments when a song is being born. That is my favorite part of this career as an indie musician."
Laube says she's been working on writing songs that reinforce positive messages, both for her listeners and herself.
"A lot of my songs in the past have been heartbreak or yearning songs," she says. "Seeing as I sing the lines over and over in performances, I thought it would be good to compose some new songs with words that remind me of love and gratitude and joy instead of some boy du jour."
This includes gratitude for other artists' work. The John Mayer lyric "I gotta believe there's another color waiting on me" inspired "Green," a song on Laube's new album. She says the line is a reference to “moving away from having the blues." And move away she does with lyrics like "My tongue's been in my pocket/My heart's been at my feet/But music is where they always meet/Music is where we always meet."
Laube credits music with bringing special people into her life, too. Some of them are involved in Second Harvest, one of the organizations Wurst Times benefits. This Saturday’s performance will be Laube's first gig at the World's Largest Brat Fest alternative, though she's played at a few other fundraisers for the food bank. She also points to the support of Madison venues and artists.
"The scene is great. There are a lot of really talented people here... and it's accessible," she says. "I've met a lot of people through Project M and by going to shows, and recording on other people's songs."
She's also grateful for her "unofficial residency" at Merchant.
"The owners and staff there are very supportive and treat us musicians well," she notes.
Laube has sought out unconventional opportunities for sharing her music with others. For instance, she gives virtual concerts through StreetJelly, an "online busking" site where musicians perform via webcam and audience members respond with tips, questions and comments.
"It's a totally different vibe than performing in a live room with people," she says. "But in some ways, the musician may be connecting more [with listeners] since the audience is talking back to you openly during the show."