Laura Jane Grace has dropped a surprise solo album, Stay Alive, out now via Big Scary Monsters on all streaming services, with physical copies coming in December.
The intention for Grace was to record an Against Me! album this year, but when the global pandemic ruined that idea, she couldn’t sit around and do nothing. So instead, she booked a studio and organized a socially-distanced recording session with acclaimed engineer Steve Albini and created the beautiful Stay Alive.
Laura Jane Grace herself had this to say about the album:
“Hi, my name is Laura Jane Grace. This is my album. This album is about staying alive. Stay alive. Don’t die. Work hard. Fight back. This album is an entirely analog recording. No computers were involved in the making of this album. These recordings were not edited together, these songs are documented performances. This album was written and recorded in Chicago, Illinois. I recorded this album with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio on the two days after the full moon of July 5th, 2020. The album was mixed in another two days time. Steve and I were the only two people in the studio. We both wore face masks and stayed 6 feet apart at all times. I only took my face mask off while singing. Please wear a face mask.”
The album is a perfect remedy to Coronavirus-blues, with Grace sharing her own pent-up fears, anger, and anxiety amongst the 14 cathartic and relatable songs. It remedies the damage caused by the pandemic in another way too, as Grace says: “By putting the songs out, that puts the label in work, that puts a photographer in work, that puts a graphic designer in work, that puts a merch company in work, that keeps it alive. You hear on the news every day about people losing their jobs and everything collapsing, and I want to fight against that. The only way I can think to fight against that is to work.”
Not many artists could pull off a purely analog recording of acoustic guitar and an intermittent drum machine, but on Stay Alive, this just works to highlight Grace’s powerful voice and inspirational songwriting.