In 2003 The Saskatoon Star Phoenix wrote, “This is the type of artist who can translate half a minute of life experience into a profound musical statement. It's almost scary to imagine the effect a few years will have on her.” Fast forward nearly two years and Lesley Pike is back, armed with her new full-length record, “Dreaming Back To Life”.
Dreaming Back To Life (May, 2005) features nine tracks, all penned by Pike. Recorded largely at Umbrella Sound in Toronto, and mastered by Joao Carvalho, the album features Lesley on Piano and Acoustic Guitar, and her guelph-based band, Joe Harrison (Bass), Andrew Stuart (Guitar), Phill McFadden (Drums), Cameron Guthrie (Drums, Percussion), as well as guest vocalist Martin Acosta (Stradio) on two of the tracks.
Before heading into the studio to record “Dreaming Back To Life”, Lesley spent nearly two years playing shows in support of her 2003 critically acclaimed independent release “Night Visions”, which earned her considerable press across Canada and significant play on the CBC. Lesley quickly became known for her talent, charisma and stage presence, earning coveted spots on stage with Pilate, Turn Off The Stars, Stabilo, Butterfly Boucher, The Devlins, Tristan Prettyman, Danny Michel, and Peter Elkas to name a few.
In “Dreaming Back To Life”, The Wingham, ON born singer, who holds an honours bachelor degree in Classical Music from WLU, tackles an ambitious range of topics. From the unabashedly honest and uplifting “Rather Be” to the hopeful longing in the title track, the affirmed resignation of “This Fire” and the stark vulnerability of “Mercy”, Pike has successfully established and defined her own niche and sound.
“This record is more diverse than the last record, a bit meatier, and overall I hope the outlook is a bit more hopeful”, says Pike of her sophomore effort. “On “Night Visions”, I basically wrote exactly what I felt without thinking twice about what people would take from it or the impressions they may form. And I really like that in a way, because it’s completely honest and raw, but I didn’t anticipate the flip side of it – that people might think I’m really quite depressed!” Pike continues, “I remember a neighbour leaving a note in my mailbox after he listened to the record that said something to the effect of “it’s really beautiful…and I hope that you are okay’.
This startling realization motivated Pike to better define and articulate exactly what she wanted to convey.
“This time around I wanted to be more careful - I wanted the songs to be raw and honest, but also wanted people to see that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”
When it comes to lyrical content, Lesley continues to draw from personal experiences. “This past year seemed to be the year when I all of a sudden had to deal with REAL issues. Death. Change. Disappointment. A sense of loss that I hadn’t experienced before. Things you can’t just shrug off and you have absolutely no control over”, says Pike. “There were times when I thought “I don’t know how people do this – how do people survive these kinds of things? And I couldn’t quite get my head around it – sometimes I still can’t. But those are the times when you are the most human and your relationships become that much stronger and you feel closer to everything and more alive. I wanted the songs to capture some of that.”
Of course, for any female in her mid-twenties, there will always be a thread of romance and heartache, and much of Lesley’s writing is still fuelled by the ongoing highs and lows of romantic relationships. In “This Fire” she sings “Is it me, could I be blind? / You’ll say I walked into this fire with my eyes open wide…/ so save your remorse, and I will not complain…” Pike readily admits the song is, at least initially, “about a boy”, but she continues, “I wrote it in a way that it would apply to other areas of my life. Not shying away from pain. Taking on challenges. Taking responsibility. Not always looking back and worrying about the “why”, but instead looking forward at how to make things better in the future”. It seems she has found a new maturity in her writing and in her perspective, a willingness to embrace the experiences that life brings. “This song is kind of like my ‘fine, these things happen and I’m definitely going to share the blame, but I’m also going to take everything I can from this experience to learn and grow as best I can, and I’m going to be a better person because of it’, where in the past it may have been a bit more “I liked you, you liked me, it didn’t work, I’m bitter, this sucks”.
The title track, “Dreaming Back To Life” captures that terrifying yet exhilarating feeling you get when you put yourself completely out there and lay everything on the line with absolutely no assurance about how everything is going to turn out. Says Pike, “If I can encourage or inspire that kind of feeling in people when they listen to my record it will be a huge success for me – I’d love to be able to have a hand in helping people revisit or unlock their own dreams.”