For a woman who thrives on jumping into the unknown with both feet, Vanessa Lively took an unusual approach to her new album, Uncovering Stones. She and her producer-husband, Jason, planned it practically down to the last note before stepping near a recording studio – a room in their Austin home, tricked out for the sessions by co-producer/engineer Keith Gary. Vanessa even painted the album art beforehand – on 42 canvas squares she sold individually to help fund the 12-song disc.
It’s an uncommon approach, but Lively is an uncommon woman. Born in San Antonio and raised partly in the Texas border area of Brownsville/Laredo, she’s an adventure seeker who loves pursuing alternative experiences, including raking blueberries in Maine as a migrant farm worker and moving to South America with her husband to do volunteer work in impoverished areas.
Lively recorded her first album, Let Me Rise, while she was living in Ecuador, followed by her second A Chain Unbroken, which was recorded in Northern England. Her third, Canto y Cantera, was a tribute to Argentinean singer Mercedes Sosa and the nueva canción song movement she popularized.
Making music constantly during her sojourn in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador, she observed how strongly it connected people. Uncovering Stones is, she says, an expression of that experience, filled with representative themes: “Community, living in solidarity with those around you. Feeling what other people’s struggles and joys are and being connected with them.”
With a compelling mix of tempos and styles that embrace “hints of urban, world, Latin, funk and pop,” Lively’s songs fully capture her compassionate nature and love of community.
And from the beginning, she involved her own community, encouraging friends to offer advice about her painting and music. Some of them – who happen to be among Austin’s top musicians – were invited to participate in the recording sessions.
Lively is thrilled with the result; she says Uncovering Stones is the album she dreamed of making – an inspiring album full of energy and beauty.