Personal Loss Led Leeann Skoda to New Single,”Still”

If you’ve ever found yourself in the crowd at an ‘In the Round’ show at a place like the Bluebird Café or The Listening Room, you know what it’s like to be floored by a song. You know the feeling of that one song so powerful that all it took was a guitar and the voice of the person who wrote it to leave you breathless in wonderment.

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If you don’t know the feeling, chances are you will once you hear Leeann Skoda’s “Still.”

Hailing from Phoenix but having transplanted to LA, Skoda has long been drawn to the rawness and simplicity of country and bluegrass music. Ironic when you learn it was Mariah Carey’s four-octave range that wowed Skoda as a little girl, and she has spent much of her life singing in choirs.

While her vocals have drawn comparisons to women such as Neko Case and Emmylou Harris, as a songwriter she has shown the innate ability to craft a song not unlike Miranda Lambert or Bandy Clark. The lyrics certainly walk the story but the gaps, they say almost as much as the lyrics and the accompanying guitar colors in the spaces as opposed to defining them.

“I recorded this song in March in Nashville with producer Andy Freeman, before any of us knew what we were in for this year,” recalls Skoda. “My friend Jason Hawk Harris was in town at the time, and since I love his fingerpicking style, we asked if he’d try the guitar part. He agreed, although he barely had enough time to record before heading to the airport to fly back to LA. We still got a beautiful take.”

Though the recording may have been prodded along by a departure schedule, the writing process was not. Feeling most at ease in her writing when she can zone in on her inspiration yet at the same time, Skoda prefers to let her inspiration take her wherever the song needs to go on its own clock. In the case of “Still,” that inspiration was personal and specific however, the song’s arms provide a much broader reach.

“I feel like my best writing comes in the moments in which I’m not trying too hard, when I can give myself time to let inspiration come to me,” Skoda tells American Songwriter. “My grandmother passed away just before Christmas last year. This song is about dealing with her loss through the lens of holidays past.

“I hope that it can be a comfort to someone, especially in a year of so much loss. This song makes me think of cycles: the small ones that we celebrate each year, those we’re confronted with when we lose a loved one, and how they might tie in together.”

Photo by Olivia Hemaratanatorn

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