As John Lennon so perfectly put it, life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. Oklahoma singer-songwriter Sherree Chamberlain knows this all too well.
Back in late 2011, she successfully ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund what would be her second full-length album, released in the first half of 2012. Two years later, after a marriage, a new career and just about everything else you could imagine, Chamberlain is finally making good on her promise for new material.
“It’s such a huge relief,” she said of finishing the album, which will be unveiled first thing in 2014. “It’s taken way too long, and I just need it to be finished. Everyone has been really understanding and encouraging, but I want to give them everything they were expecting and then some, because they’ve waited all this time.”
It’s an upbeat album reflective of all the positive changes Chamberlain has enjoyed in the past few years, standing in fairly stark contrast to her pretty but emotionally charged 2009 debut A Wasp in the Room.
“It’s a little more country, a little more in line with what I grew up listening to, like Dolly Parton and Conway Twitty,” Chamberlain said. “I didn’t want to
take myself so seriously and just play what felt good. It’s a lot more
lighthearted and playful and fun to play at bars without people
approaching me afterwards and asking me if I was happy or OK.”
If A Wasp in the Room read like a diary — and that’s because it sort of was — that meant listeners connected to it strongly. But it made creating new material all that much more daunting, especially since she’d never written for anyone but herself.
“I wrote [those songs] without plans to ever release them. I’d only written songs for me,” she said. “I was getting upset because, in my mind, I had written those songs for me and no one had the right to pass judgment on them.
I had to grow a new, thicker skin. I’m such a different person than those songs. I’m writing songs not because I have to work through something but because they make me happy.”
It was for these reasons Chamberlain decided to name the record New Skin, a nod to a renewed personal and creative life.
“I don’t know how to measure success now. I used to measure it by whether someone was out on tour or opening for some big band, but I don’t feel that anymore,” Chamberlain said. “I never did it to be cool or for people to like me. My whole thing is that as long as I’m having fun, I’ll keep playing music. The second I start writing for people other than myself, that’s when I have to stop and take a good look at why I’m doing it.”