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Lyons-based singer-songwriter Monica Marie LaBonte will release her solo-debut EP, “See Through,” on Nov. 13. (Grace Clark/ Courtesy photo)
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Lyons-based singer-songwriter Monica Marie LaBonte’s new album “See Through,” set to be released Nov. 13, provides listeners with a transparent look at loss, rebirth and reckoning.

Lyons-based singer-songwriter Monica Marie LaBonte will release her solo-debut EP, “See Through,” on Nov. 13. (Grace Clark/ Courtesy photo)

While most know her from her work with psychedelic Americana group Monocle Band, acoustic all-female band Watergirls, as well as Honeytree Duo, her upcoming album marks the songstress’s solo recording debut.

The five-song EP is filled with endearing tracks that simultaneously showcase her lyrical prowess and soulfully rich vocal tone.

“Any Old Day,” a song in which LaBonte beautifully mourns her grandmother’s passing, delivers hints reminiscent of bluegrass-country singer Alison Krauss.

“River Song,” takes us through the ebb and flow of depression and offers up comfort — a cup of warm herbal tea in song form.

She’s crafted the sort of heartfelt collection that may just see us through our own hardships.

A keen observer, LaBonte bears witness to life’s magic and heartache and artfully weaves the intricacies of the human condition into tunes that possess undeniable intimacy, grace and grit.

A modern-day troubadour, she creates folk music for the here and now. LaBonte’s songs provide a crisp and polished freshness, yet they remain steeped in a relatable nostalgia of long ago.

We caught up with the creative to talk about her journey into songwriting and performing, her favorite tracks on the latest album and her undying admiration for Beyoncé.

Daily Camera: I absolutely love the single “Tall Pines” What inspired this track?

Monica Marie LaBonte: I moved from the dark, cold, wintry mountains of Colorado to the hot, sticky sweaty south in the heat of summer to Alabama. In Alabama, I worked at a camp for children and adults with disabilities and it transformed my life — and changed the course of my path in school and passions. The contrast between the cold of mountains to the smothering heat of the south went hand-in-hand with my life and work experiences in each place as well. These places, and this specific time in my life, cut me in a deep and loving way and I knew one day I would have to put it into song.

DC: Do you remember a time when you knew that music would be your career path? When did you feel the call to create and perform?

MML: I decided to go all in after graduating college and realizing that making a career out of music is possible. I was enjoying making music in all aspects. I lived in Boulder at the time and was feeling more and more connected to the music scene there, as well as on the Front Range of Colorado. I really fell in love with the community and all of the opportunities that kept opening up the more I put energy and time in. I have loved singing since I was little. My mama sings and plays guitar and piano and some of my first memories are of her singing to me and just being enamored with everything about it. I felt called to perform as early as 5 when I joined my first choir and I started to create music in middle school and high school. I realized that music was a way to connect to my soul that no other process could facilitate. I used music to exorcise pain and trauma, as well as connect with others.

Singer-songwriter Monica Marie LaBonte is pictured in Denver in November. (Grace Clark/ Courtesy photo)

DC: I know during this pandemic you’ve played several small shows, including one at Gold Hill Inn. What has this experience been like playing during a global health crisis?

MML: The few shows I have played have been a mix of awesome, yet strange. It’s been a blessing to find those few places that offer safe spaces to create music and for that I am very grateful. I remember the first time I went to the post office after the beginning of quarantine happened way back in March and there was tape on the floor, plexiglass on the counter, barricades in front of the registers to keep you 6 feet away from the clerks. It was a shock to the system and I remember feeling like I could cry. My first gig out kind of felt similar. It was challenging to be out in public and be masked, to see great friends but not able to hug or embrace the way we used to and to have to stay so isolated and distant. After a handful of gigs, you get used to it and start to experience the magic of live performance in different ways. Gold Hill Inn has always been a special place to me and that show, in particular, felt magical.

DC: You obviously craft beautiful folk music, but I imagine it’s not all Joni Mitchell and Patty Griffin in your household. What are some artists of other genres people may be surprised to hear on your playlist?

MML: I love Beyoncé. I think she’s a visionary, a killer dancer, a powerful singer and just an incredible presence. I’ve been listening to a lot of Emily King lately and Lake Street Dive is almost always in the rotation. Sarah Jarosz is a constant inspiration and I’ve recently been into Harry Styles and Jacob Collier. Besides that, I listen to a lot of my local musician friends’ music — Pamela Machala, David Burchfield, Masontown, Meadow Mountain, By the Lee, Shanna in a Dress … the list truly goes on and on. I was steeped in the songwriter scene in Boulder when I lived there and really respect the songs and the music coming from these fine people.

DC: Lastly, what are some of your favorite tunes on the album and what are you hoping listeners take away from your latest release?

MML: I am very proud of this EP as a whole. The collection of songs is special to me and marks my debut as a solo artist, which I am thrilled about. I hope that listeners will hear that I am sincere, deep and genuine in my writing and music making. My favorite song is “River Song” for many reasons. It’s a step in a new direction in terms of writing and sound and every time I listen to it, I feel sparkly and excited about moving forward as a solo artist.  It’s also a song about seeing others’ pain and saying “I’m here. I see you. I love you.”  This is a message that I desperately needed in my lowest of times, so it’s an offering for those who need it.

 

 

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