“I feel like I’m a very unintentional songwriter.” This is what Abigail Lapell, a singer-songwriter from Toronto, says when asked about the theme of water that runs through her latest record. “To be honest, it’s pretty rare that I have a clear theme and thing that I’m talking about.”
The album, Stolen Time, does have a consistent theme, however, even if Lapell didn’t realize it at the time of writing:
“Looking back, the album has a lot of water imagery. I do draw a lot of nature inspiration. There’s a lot of landscapes that really inspire me, and traveling around, of course. There’s also fire references and it’s very elemental, which wasn’t deliberate, but it’s kind of a nice thing after the fact to see those themes emerge. And it kind of makes sense too with the idea of a theme of recovery or trying to reconnect with something.”
She also took inspiration from her family’s immigration journey from Eastern Europe to North America during the Holocaust for the track “Land of Plenty”, a song she says “touches on this idea of the immigrant experience in a kind of an explicit way.” It was also partially inspired by the Trump administration’s Muslim ban.
“I remember there were protests and I was reading about and I just thought about my family coming here. I think people are more aware than ever of issues around intergenerational trauma. And it’s interesting to think about that trauma, and how it grows up in the shadow of [an event like that],” says Lapelle. “I think of it personally as a kind of contradictory thing where, like, I don’t think my family ever romanticized life in Canada, but then at the same time, recognizing your fortune of being so lucky to be born here—like you just basically won the lottery by being born here. That’s kind of how we were raised to think about it, and yet my grandparents coming here would have had a really hard life.”
Lapelle is excited to come back to Texas for her SXSW show, and back to live performance. She recently played the Kerrville Folk Festival, where she was a 2020 New Folk winner, as well as shows in Austin and Terlingua.
Her newest album Stolen Time is out April 22 via Outside Music (and is partially funded by FACTOR, the Government of Canada, and Canada’s private radio broadcasters). She has also won two Canadian Folk Music Awards and held the #1 spot on the Canadian folk radio chart.
By Stephanie Robinson (Stefny! at the Disco)