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Meredith Luce & The Mandates perform music from Creatures

By Rachel Hauraney on December 6, 2013

Meredith Luce’s latest album, Creatures, has taken two years to complete. Luce has been focused on other things. She got married last year and bought a 100-year-old farmhouse on a one-acre lot in Kemptville.

Then a horseback riding accident left her with some time on her hands.

“I had an opportunity to record at Gallery Studio with Dean Watson while recuperating from a concussion,” she explains. “The album is primarily made up of songs I just never had a chance to put on a record before.”

The busy 25-year-old musician, graphic designer and children’s book illustrator launches her new disc Dec. 8 at the Great Canadian Theatre Company’s Irving Greenberg Theatre. She will be performing with her multi-talented band, the Mandates, which consists of Eric Viewig, and brothers Dean and Tim Watson. The show will be a rare chance to see these musicians perform together.

“My bandmates all have their own projects,” says Luce. “We don’t play together as much as we did in the past. Everyone’s buying houses and settling down.”

The Ottawa-born Luce has certainly come a long way since she began her musical career in earnest about 10 years ago. Her maturity is apparent on her latest release. Creatures is more reminiscent of Luce’s Neck of the Woods than her live record, which is a throwback to her earlier acoustic work. Creatures has apparent rock influences, but there is still a rootsy appeal to the songs.

“Rock music was the reason I wanted to learn to play guitar,” Luce admits. “I wanted to be able to play AC/DC.” The title track of the new record was inspired by Luce’s long hours at Algonquin College, where she was studying to complete her advanced diploma in graphic design.

“It’s dark when you leave the house, and it’s dark when you get home,” she explains. “We’re just creatures in the dark.”

With other song titles like Wolf and Sweet Little Sun Dog, Luce creates a double-entendre with the title track.

It may be surprising to fans of Luce’s country- and folk-based originals that she never expected to remain an acoustic roots player. Who knew she would graduate to edgy alt rock when she was playing her old-timey folk tunes 10 years ago at Rasputin’s? Luce’s opening act, John Carroll, remembers her walking into Cafe Nostalgica — the now defunct graduate students’ bar at the University of Ottawa — to play the open stage when she was a teenager.

“She would have been 17,” he says. “She might have been younger.” Carroll and Luce are neighbours. Carroll and his wife live in Kemptville with their two young children. “(Luce) and I are good friends,” says Carroll. “I played guitar on four songs on Creatures.”

Carroll will open the CD release with a short solo acoustic set. “There’s nothing like seeing a show in a theatre,” says Carroll.

Creatures is currently available for purchase in stores and online. Tickets for the CD release are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. The GCTC is located at 1233 Wellington Street West. Doors open at 7:30 pm, Sunday December 8.