It’s impossible to discuss Couture’s provocative and personal music without putting it into context. She witnessed her two children die at different times; cancer in her left leg left her standing, barely, with a prosthetic replacement. Her songs are imbued with this sorrow, and the resolve they convey is remarkable.
By comparison, her new Long Time Leaving is relief. Not comic relief; its central theme is about the breakup of her marriage. But not dark — in I still Love You, she sings that she would still like to be friends with former husband Nick, and the song Zookeeper sounds happy. It’s a lighter album with an occasional nod to country that makes it even brighter.
Importantly, it’s her second album to be produced by Steve Dawson. Recorded at his Henhouse in the former Vancouverite’s adopted Nashville, Long Time Leaving benefits from his sympathetic understatement.
“I knew I wanted to work with him a second time,” Couture said. “I wanted to make an album that would be fun. I needed a break. I wanted something more lighthearted. I went down there knowing that I didn’t want a record to make me cry, or make others cry.
“I felt like he really understood what I was trying to do,” she continued. “We had a conversation of how to make this album.
“He really understood when I said I wanted to make something that was fun. I wanted to enjoy it.”
Long Time Leaving isn’t laugh-out-loud funny, but Couture sounds playful and the arrangements, notably Lovely Like You, are upbeat, the spare production creating atmosphere.
The album arrives after a period of change for her. There was the end of the marriage and then Couture’s decision to leave Vancouver for Toronto.
“I’ve been here less than a year,” she said. “I was coming here off and on. I still don’t feel like I belong.
“Part of coming here is that the music scene is here. Vancouver is great, but there is so much more here.”
And then there is the prosthetic leg. Through a public funding campaign, she was able to raise the necessary $25,000. The new leg gave her more freedom and mobility that enabled her to tour.
“It changed my life,” Couture said. “I can enjoy going for a walk. For 20 years I couldn’t do that.”