Laurier grad finds solace in songwriting

As a 2013 master’s in music therapy graduate, Sarah Pearson left Laurier with a drive to pursue music therapy at the Grand River Hospital.

Now, after a few self-recorded EPs, Pearson is back with Circles We Live Inside, her first studio album.

“My goal is always [to] create something that feels as meaningful to me as possible — for the sake of connection … Music for me is about connection,” Pearson said.

As a music therapist, Pearson does not expect her craft to make a living. She uses it to tell a story, to convey emotions rather than surface-level tunes. This album covers several personal topics, as well as ones that have unfolded in the news — “Not For Her,” in particular, centers around the lack of regard given to Indigenous people in the light of the Parliament Hill shootings.

The theme of naming the tracks from either times throughout the year, or places in Ontario can define this album as an audible diary in many ways. Pearson details roads she would take to travel back home in Montreal, to stories that unfolded in months of the year.

“There’s a little ‘90s, alternative, Kate Bush-feel to the sound of this album,” Pearson said.

Circles We Live Inside is the type of album that you can find yourself paying close attention to lyrically to derive the true meanings behind the music. Pearson strives to create music that is very complex and toys with different compositions and writing styles.

As a musician, your success is often determined by the public’s perception of your craft. And all of a sudden, everyone is a critic and your art and your message is either validated or denounced.

“Stay connected to whatever it is that guides you. Realize that no one else needs to define success for you. You get to decide what success is,” Pearson advised aspiring undergrad musicians.

One of the more complex songs on the album, “Holding You,” mentions the album title and provides the listener with greater understanding of the context of the song, but at the same time more confusion.

Pearson explained the song is about sitting in a tree and, “[feeling] so held by this tree and it felt representative of a newfound, innate belonging.”

It’s this tree, and its rings that represent the circles we live in.

As a gigging musician, Pearson understood what it meant to make yourself vulnerable to the masses — often times the lack of masses when you’re a budding star. It’s important to know that you have to go through all the obstacles, to fully self-reflect on your own craft and make it so convincing that folks by the bar can’t help but notice.

This album is circled in ties to the K-W area and really makes the niche group of K-W artists’ talents so diverse. In an industry of musicians fighting to be the figureheads of their respective genres, Sarah Pearson’s Circles We Live Inside finds itself as a creative reflection on one’s personal narrative.

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