Nina June continues to lean into her acute sensitivity as a lyricist while also embracing her expansive scope as a sonic auteur on her latest effort, Meet Me on the Edge of Our Ruin (out now via Nettwerk Records).
The 10-track album mixes eloquent strings, glistening keys, as well as airy guitars in an artful arrangement that highlights poignant songwriting that elevates her already impressive vocals. It is, as she says, an album about memories and how they monumentalize the most important moments of loss like ruins on the path to the present.
“I’ve worked on this album over the past 2.5 years. I needed time to think about the way we live our lives in these current times, and how we treat our planet,” she said. “If I look back on what was, and look forward to the future, what changes do I want to make? These changes pertain to human relationships, the way we spend our time, the way we consume and how we dedicate our passion. It’s about making choices that give meaning to our lives and serve us as a collective, not only as an individual. ‘Meet Me on The Edge of Our Ruin’ is an open invitation to look back on the past and think about the way we want to move forward.”
She took time to break down the writing of the album for American Songwriter. Push play, and see how the words play with the soundscape.
Build a Boat
‘Build a Boat’ is a song about creating a safe haven in troubled times. I think in the past two years, we all got confronted with ourselves. We were forced to reinvent ourselves, our lives, and ask ourselves what truly matters to us. In the end, it’s the people you have around you and the way you connect with them. It doesn’t always have to be easy; the only thing that matters is if it’s real. ‘Build a Boat’ is about choosing for and surrendering to real love.
‘Jeremiah Blue’ is about the first time your heart gets broken badly. When you’re young and naive, you will at least once fall in love with someone whom you intuitively feel doesn’t like you as much as you want them. There are few things as painful as that :). But it teaches you some essential lessons about life and love that hopefully they will come in handy later on in your life 😉
‘Rainbow Ashes’ is one of my favorite songs on the album. It was a guitar song in its first demo version. When we recorded it, my producer (Duncan Mills) said, “maybe we should try it on the piano.” It immediately became a big song, and Duncan suggested asking his friend Sally Herbert – who creates for artists like Bjõrk and Radiohead – to make a string arrangement for the song. When I first heard what she came up with, I was blown away. I knew that these string arrangements were going to be like a threat through the entire album. In the end, Sally arranged strings for 8 out of all ten songs. This song feels like one of the pillars of the album.
World on Fire
World on Fire is the first song I wrote about another topic than human relationships. This is a song about our relationship with our planet. It’s very critical to our behavior. To solve the climate crisis, we cannot just stand here and watch. We need to change our habits and behavior drastically.
Beneath The Surface
During the lockdown, I felt the need to open all the gates of my imagination. I felt that being obliged to stay inside, I needed to use my perks as a songwriter. I can go past the walls of my home, entering new worlds, creating new stories. Like this murder story about a woman who can’t bear to lose her lover to another woman 🙂
The Great Reveal
This is a song I wrote together with Jon Bryant and Old Sea Brigade, remotely on three different continents in 3 different time zones. The session was relaxed and fun. I’m a big fan of Jon and Ben (Old Sea Brigade), and we wrote this story – about someone you love but has left you and now still occupies your heart – in 3 hours. We all felt it was something special. I recorded a simple demo with piano and vocals, Jon recorded his harmony vocals on top of it, and we all felt like it wouldn’t need much more than some guitar, percussion, and stunning Sally strings 🙂
Like an Enemy
Like an Enemy is a song that I had to write. As women, we are always conditioned to be polite. When sometimes, someone else doesn’t deserve your kindness but needs your honesty instead. This song is a way for me to retrospectively stand up for myself, for all the times I didn’t when I should have. It’s about the power to speak my truth as a woman calmly and straightforwardly. And to remind myself to embrace both my strengths and my vulnerabilities.
Our Garden is about how love can grow in times of trouble. It’s about loneliness, love, and sticking together through hard times, knowing that it will make you stronger in the end. Oh, and I played the drums on this one, which was super fun to do!
I Call Love In
The first sentence of “I Call Love In” is the title of the album “Meet me on the edge of our ruin (…where our souls were untied)”. ‘I call love in’ is a song in which I invite the listener to stand next to me and look at what they left behind. Now we can ask ourselves: where do we go from here? Because what we need right now is making choices that serve us as a collective, not only as individuals.
I wrote Trust Fall as a love song between mother earth and humankind. It started in harmony, how the earth gave all she had in good faith, and how we as human beings let it all go to waste. The song mother earth says that it’s not too late to turn the tide yet, but we need to change our behavior 180 degrees. We created a soundscape of distorted guitars for the song as a metaphor for the world going down. It is the bedding for the dreamy piano that stands for beauty and hope. It felt like the perfect song to close the album with.
Meet Me on the Edge of Our Ruin is out now via Nettwerk Records and available on all platforms.