Toronto-based Americana singer-songwriter Meredith Lazowski is set to release her debut album, Other Way Home, independently on June 17, 2022. Other Way Home presents a collection of 10 distinctive songs, each beckoning like a siren tempting us to take risks and face our undying desires, the songs mirroring the landscapes of life – from the vast spaces of the prairie, to the haze of the urban bar, and to the solitude of a cemetery.
Produced by Juno Award-winner and respected performer Justin Rutledge, the album came together over a five-day period when Lazowski, armed with her acoustic guitar, was joined at Union Sound studio by Burke Carroll on pedal steel guitar; Miranda Mulholland on fiddle; Devon Henderson on bass; Tom Juhas on electric guitar; Kelsey McNulty on piano, whirly, organ, and accordion; and the fine work of Joshua Van Tassel on drums. “We gelled musically,” Lazowski recalls. “And Justin matched the soundscapes to my original visions.”
Prior to the album street date, Lazowski planned four single releases. Single one, “Prairie,” came out March 11th and premiered several days prior at Glide Magazine, who called the song “enchanting” and “…a stirring listening experience that transports you to the vast expanses of its namesake landscape.” A song that reflects multiple family visits to her grandmother’s homestead in northern Saskatchewan and how the landscape calls us back, Lazowski sings on “Prairie”: “Bring me back now and then, now and then; the west wind blows to the east to remind me.” The second single, the title track “Other Way Home” was released on April 8th and premiered earlier that week at Canadian Beats. The song explores how distance emerges between lovers when values change: “You may be for the glory, but that’s not me. Hope you’re riding the other way home.” Single three, “The Other Side,” out May 6th, premiered at Americana Highways several days before that, with the outlet calling the song “sexy, clandestine and groovy all at once.” Single four, “Ain’t Too Late,” was released on June 3rd, and in its premiere the day before release, Dusty Organ said the song was “…[a] slow-burner… Her patient and soulful vocals balance effortlessly against the mournful instrumentation…”
After spending the last seven years working in the healthcare tech industry as a User Experience Designer and Lead Product Designer, Lazowski wanted to explore certain aspects of creativity that were missing for her. “For many years now, there has been a yearning and a draw toward something, and a certain emptiness in the creative aspects of my life,” she says. “I feel that with this album I am back to my creative home, exploring the resonating glimpses of time and space.” Combining the genres of alternative-folk and country, Other Way Home captures the stylistic range of Lazowski’s creative side, musically speaking, from the country twang of “Running Circles,” to the lively, Americana-rock vibe of “The Other Side,” to the sultry, late-night slide – reminiscent of Norah Jones and Mavis Staples – of “Other Way Home.”
Born in Toronto, Lazowski grew up knowing that she was a creative spirit. She says of herself, “We had a lot of guitars in the house, and my dad played guitar while I was growing up.” She took conservatory piano lessons and taught herself guitar as a teenager; she also took part in choir and musical theater for a time. She and her family often played music together, and this provided the real impetus to write her own songs and perform them. Inspired by the souls of Gillian Welch, Mavis Staples, Neko Case, Norah Jones, Rosanne Cash, and classic country sounds, she began to compose and eventually sing her songs on local stages, at schools, and at universities. It is a full-circle nod to her musical upbringing that, on Other Way Home, her sister, Bronwyn, is featured on background vocals; her father, Brian, has a guitar solo on “December;” and her mother, Kathryn, helped create the marketing materials. “It was important for me to include my family in this project, as they have been a part of this since the beginning,” she says.
As a graduate of the preeminent York University/Sheridan College Bachelor of Design program and with her real-world experience in design, Lazowski’s involvement in album production was comprehensive: she was involved in all aspects of the album’s creation to create an artistic whole, combining music, composition, visual art, photography, videography, and branding. She envisioned this album as an experience meant to be listened to while in motion – driving, cycling, running, walking – on our personal journeys where we reflect and pause to see our lives in perspective.
“This is the first time I feel like I have a complete artistic product that fully embodies me, and who I am creatively,” Lazowski says. “Having the opportunity to not only write music but also work on the branding, video, and other elements overall has given me an opportunity to design and create a full experience.”
Other Way Home offers listeners a journey of new beginnings, of familiarity, of both the place and the feeling of home, of old chapters not forgotten. It is an album for those looking to get lost on a journey and then find their way, encouraging the listener to rethink love and friendships, and blending landscape and soundscape in a unique fashion. Lazowski has created a sort of aural wayfaring map for us to enjoy.