Mental Health, is Rae Spoon’s tenth full-length album and is being released on their label Coax Records. The album traces their personal journey with mental health through eight indie-rock songs that explore living with depression, anxiety, CPTSD and other challenges. Giving a voice to a perspective not as often heard in the media, the songs are a rumination on pursuing health without the pressure of being cured and the duality of trying to survive trauma and accept oneself at the same time.
Rae Spoon has been open through their writing and the NFB documentary, My Prairie Home, about growing up with a parent who had a, often untreated, mental illness in an unsafe home and the childhood abuse they experienced. The songs play like a follow up to that writing, being about the adult experience of being a survivor. Rae explores living as a trans/non-binary person in communities that experiences oppression and thus has higher incidence of mental health issues and suicide. Being part of these communities means losing friends to suicide more often and supporting each other through unspeakable conditions at times. Rae asks hard questions about how to cope with mental pain, to support friends and to live with trauma in late capitalism.
The album was recorded and co-produced by Jordon Koop at the Noise Floor on Gabriola Island. Rae was joined by the Pack AD’s Maya Miller on the drums and Becky Black on guitar and vocals. Rae’s ever-present electronic elements make an appearance through drum sequences and analog synthesizers and their band was made up of all-female/non-binary musicians. The result is the kind of infectious melodies and intricate pop music that Rae has become known for.
Go Away, the first song on the album, speaks to the lack of confidence and isolation that the stigmatization of mental health issues can cause. In this case the lyrics lay out many reasons why someone should not become attached one and read like an anti-personal advertisement. With the swell of a choir at the end arranged by Elder Sister Plum foreshadow the truth of the rest of the album which is that connection is still possible.
Shame is a battle cry against the constant impact of the societal pressure to present as healthy even when one is not. Rae captures the feeling of embodied grief that is so common in people who have experienced trauma.The song concludes with soaring harmonies and an uplifting empowerment.
I Can’t Sleep is the first single off of Rae Spoon’s August 16, 2019 album, Mental Health. It features singer Becky Black from the Pack AD and is a rock song about the isolation of insomnia. The battle between oneself that occurs in the middle of the night when sleep proves impossible.
Blaring is a beautiful duet with co-writer Northcote. The song talks about the distance that happens in relationships when communication. The combination of the two singer’s voices is something special and together they create the feeling of being lonely when you are with the person you love.
Again + Again + Again is a song that asks the listener to seek out support when they experience suicidal ideation. The result of the loss of many friends and acquaintances to suicide the conviction in Rae’s voice is intimate and compelling.
Money confronts the reality that large corporate campaigns that say they are in support of mental health never address capitalism and it’s impact on people who need drugs and mental health services. It’s a sing-along protest song that brings an upbeat voice to one of the main barriers for people dealing with mental health issues.
Inheritance is about the religious and inter-generational trauma of growing up Pentecostal in an unsafe home. It also talks about how being unsafe at hospitals due to being a gender and/or sexuality minority excludes people from treatment. The song asks the listener to let go of their blood family and make
their own inheritance in it’s hopeful chorus.
There’s No End, the final song on Mental Health, a celebration of finding a way to survive recurring mental health issues. Instead of seeking a cure or end to mental pain they sing about occupying the spaces in between the worst parts and finding joy. The mountainous dynamics between lines in the song
show these different states of being.
Rae’s first book, First Spring Grass Fire, was published by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2012. The book was a finalist for a Lambda Award in the Transgender Fiction category and was shortlisted for an Expozine Alternative Press Award. In the spring of 2014, Rae was awarded a Honour of Distinction by the Dayne Ogilvie Prize, presented by the Writers’ Trust of Canada. Rae’s second book, co- written with Ivan E. Coyote and titled Gender Failure, was published in 2014. Gender Failure was on the 2015 Over The Rainbow Reading List and was translated into German. In 2017, Rae also published a manual in the How To Series called: How To (Hide) Be(hind) You Songs detailing their philosophies on music composition.
“Rae Spoon is one of the most important musicians working in Canada today.” – Now Magazine
“The mark of a gifted songwriter is the ability to create the most emotion with the fewest notes. Rae Spoon is a master of restraint, conveying both hope and hurt at once through simple melodies.” – Exclaim!
“Armour: synths and electronic percussion alongside guitars and Spoon’s evergreen vocals, melodic pop and sharply drawn verses, hope and despair.” – The Toronto Star
“With Armour, Rae Spoon has recorded one of the best albums of the year, and made a very strong case that they’re one of best, and most important, songwriters in Canada. Perfect electronic pop songs that groove, tear at your heart, and seek to create real change.” – Silent Shout
“One of Canada’s best songwriter.” – Aesthetic Magazine
“Spoon’s poignant, raw musicality paired with their evocative, powerful vocals have spoken to Canadians across the nation.” – The Gateway
“The album, Spoon’s eighth solo release, is another stellar electro-based offering of dreamy, rounded and sweetly pleasing pop with, as always, an aftertaste of pretty melancholia.” – Calgary Herald
“Steeped in personal themes and experience, Spoon’s body of work is truly singular.” – The Concordian
“Spoon is an ever-evolving, distinctive experimental artist.” – The Overcast
“The haunting, lovely tunes speak for themselves.” – British Film Institute
“Queer-positive, electronic-pop-infused.” – The Stranger