Bio

Barbara Doran presents Reveal
With Reveal, Barbara Doran presents a tight set of rock tinged country songs that, as the album title suggests, are the most personal offerings the Whitby, Ontario based singer/songwriter/recording artist has released to date.

In part that’s because Doran wrote the entire record, with the exception of one song, alone: “That’s a first,” she says. “It’s not that I haven’t written a lot of songs on my own, but my past records were mostly co-written. There were personal songs on previous records, but not like this. I feel the most attached to this record and the songs are like my babies.”

“I also feel this record has more shape to it than my previous albums,” she continues. “I knew I wanted to call the record Reveal, I knew what I wanted and I wrote songs that fit the title and, really, revealed a bit about me that maybe nobody knew before.”

Recorded in July 2016, at Beaird Music Group in Nashville, Reveal was influenced more by songs that have recently resonated with listeners, than by a certain genre of modern country: “Specifically some of the gems that have made it to the radio that are a little bit left of centre and less commercial,” she explains; “songs that have given me, well, just more guts to be myself.”

Doran’s music often treads the line between her own experiences and her deft observations of others. On previous records – Barbara Lynn Doran (2010) and Love From All Sides (2014) – Doran sang about the challenges and joys that come with opening yourself up to others, love, loss and the grey areas in relationships.

While that theme is echoed on Reveal’s lead single, ‘Half Hearted Love,’ and, on first listen, Reveal reads like a breakup album, “That’s not what it’s about,” she says, laughing.

True, there are songs that speak to her difficulties in letting people get close to her, like ‘This Time’ and ‘Unlock Me,’ but by and large Reveal focuses on Doran’s struggle to reconcile the person she is now – and cope with the limitations that entails – with her previous vision of herself.

All her life Doran’s musical aspirations have been rivaled by a passion for horseback riding – a passion that led her to compete nationally as a youth. Roughly 3 years ago, however, Doran was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition and extensive arthritis.

“So I’m not allowed to ride anymore,” she says bluntly. “I’ve been medically retired. If I jar my neck the wrong way I could become paralyzed. I’m still trying to adjust, so I don’t feel so restricted.”

Although many of the tracks on Reveal were inspired by that uniquely personal process of adjustment, they are songs anyone who’s dealt with sudden changes in their lives – changes that require us to close one chapter in our lives and begin the next, often with no idea where to start – can relate to.

As for how Doran characterizes this latest chapter of her own: “It’s like breaking up with your old self – not because you want to – because you have to.”

Nowhere is that more evident than on the poignant ballad, ‘Stranger.’ “Musically, I didn’t do much of anything for a year, and ‘Stranger’ was the first song that came out as I was finding my way back.”

Doing so, and getting full force back into music has only deepened Doran’s already substantial chops as a songwriter; prompting her to delve more deeply into her own life for material and to present ever more keenly honed lyrical portraits of the experiences of other people’s lives.

That comes off loud and clear on tracks like ‘Your Drinking Gets Old,’ which, she says, “Is personal, but deeply hidden in fiction,” as well as on purely observational songs like ‘Dark Clouds’ – a tune about a friend struggling with severe depression that, Barbara Doran says, “Really hits home for people when I play it live.’”

“Even intensely personal songs are observational, too,” she continues. ‘Easier Said Than Done,’ for example; a track that’s obviously about letting go of the past.

“It’s not necessarily about me, but because I wrote some of it years ago, I almost feel like I was seeing into the future, given what I’m going through now.”

Reveal resonates so deeply and truly because it reflects the changes we all go through over time, but also because Doran was intent on being brutally honest about her own life and being absolutely true to her vision for the record.

“I’m not typical,” she says. “So why should I try to be something that I’m not. When I was doing preproduction with Larry Beaird, he said, ‘Most people tell me who they want to sound like. You haven’t.’ And I was like, ‘That’s because I want to sound like myself. I really wasn’t concerned about anything other than that.”

The result is a record that relies as heavily on modern country as it does on straight up rock and roll and classic folk and one that’s sure to appeal to listeners who value honesty and self-awareness over glossy, cookie-cutter sentiments.

The fact is that Reveal – whether Doran’s audience is aware of the context in which it was written or not – will prompt listeners to examine their own lives, limitations and relationships just as she has; be they with competing version of themselves or with friends, family members or lovers.

Over her career, Barbara Doran has made many trips to Nashville to write and record. Doran was nominated in first round ballot at the inaugural 2012 CMAO awards in four categories, qualified as a semi-finalist in the International Songwriting Competition two years in a row, a finalist in the Great American Songwriting Competition and landed a spot on the Nashville Songwriter’s Association 2014 ‘Ones To Watch’ list. She also serves as a coordinator with the Nashville Songwriter’s Association and runs songwriters’ workshops for Canadian-based artists and songwriters.