Edmonton folk singer-songwriter Jessica Heine (pronounced hi-na) is about to release her fourth album, Build Again. And it’s going to be a party. The album release show is scheduled for Feb. 3 in Edmonton. “I’m going all out for this because it’s been a while and I’m really excited,” she says.
She’ll have a full band backing her, including some luminaries of the Edmonton music scene, all of whom are also on the album. Jessica, who is a classically trained singer, is including some acapella classical vocal pieces for extra fun.
Build Again was written, as so many were, during the pandemic. “I didn’t want to write a lot of sad songs about feeling lonely but I also didn’t want to sugarcoat things and write songs that were overly optimistic and hopeful because it didn’t feel like that’s where we were,” Jessica says. The album was funded in part by grants from The Edmonton Arts Council and The Alberta Foundation for the Arts.
Her last record, Goodbye Party, focused on loss. “I see this as kind of a sister album to that,” she says. “Like a forest after a fire. Even though there’s all this destruction, new life is starting up, things are blooming.”
The record features a fresh sound for the folk singer. “I feel like this album in particular is veering a little bit Americana. There’s a lot more electric guitar on this one and I really like it. It definitely has more motion than my last record which I lovingly said was ‘a sad little record,’” she laughs.
Jessica grew up in Edson. “I don’t remember ever not making music,” she says. She was born to a musical family who would perform a cappella together at local events and fundraisers. “Even when I was really young I was always writing things down for songs and asking my mom to write things for me, recording little things on tape recorders.”
By Junior High she was constantly song-writing. “I started performing by myself, even original content, and got a lot of great support. I just loved it.” Getting a positive response to her music was “fantastic,” for someone who struggled with shyness, she says. “I couldn’t get enough of it, frankly.”
Her songwriting has, unsurprisingly, evolved over the years.
“When I was younger I thought, ‘to mean anything at all these songs have to be sad.’ I would write these whoppers, just really sad stuff and I thought ‘yeah, this is good.’ I was 13, I hadn’t experienced these things but I’d read all the books and thought, ‘oh yeah, this is important stuff,’” she laughs.
A high school teacher introduced her to CKUA. “I thought, ‘this is incredible,'” she says. “A lot of my original inspiration for songwriting came from CKUA. To have this whole new world opened up to me was a gamechanger, songwriting-wise.”
Heine studied classical voice at the University of Alberta. There was an open stage on Sunday nights, a block from where she studied. She went all the time. “I got this introduction to this beautiful world of open stages and met people who feel like family now, who were supportive of me.”
Now, she’s ready to create a big sound on Feb. 3. “It’s just going to be a real show. It’s not everyday you get to have a full band play, so I’m thrilled about that.”
Jessica Heine’s album release show for Build Again is Feb. 3 at the Anglican Parish of Christ Church in Edmonton. Details here.
“Burning Bridges” from Build Again: