In July, local singer-songwriter Madeleine Roger took the stage at the Winnipeg Folk Festival as part of Roger Roger — a folk/roots duo she and her twin brother, Lucas, put together a few years back — and performed a new song, one she said would be part of her upcoming solo release.

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In July, local singer-songwriter Madeleine Roger took the stage at the Winnipeg Folk Festival as part of Roger Roger — a folk/roots duo she and her twin brother, Lucas, put together a few years back — and performed a new song, one she said would be part of her upcoming solo release.

The deceptively sweet-sounding track, 60 Years More, is packed with cutting lyrics: "I’m just a girl, haven’t got a clue, somebody fill me in where a man got to, help me with my microphone, help me lift this curse, help me wrap my head around this verse."

The track started as a joke to make herself feel better after a frustrating experience at a gig, Roger later explains, but instantly evolved into something incredibly emotional and has since become one of the most important tracks she has in her catalogue.

"It just touches on a truth for me that is so real and takes up a lot more stake in my life than I ever would have thought, and then seeing it on paper and hearing the recordings made me really realize, ‘Wow, this is truly a part of my experience,’ whether or not I want that to be true or whether or not I want to admit that to myself," she says.

"We want to feel like we’re strong and fearless and unaffected, but then you look back on your life and there’s a lot of times where I’ve had to really prove myself, or really had to stand up for myself when I shouldn’t have to."

It’s a distinctly more political, feminist point of view from Roger, whose debut solo effort, Cottonwood — which will be released Oct. 26 — is full of tracks that highlight her strong, female voice as she explores ideas of humanity and human relationships, her experience in the wilderness as she penned some of the new songs, and her career shift from theatre artist to musical artist.

SAM BAARDMAN photo</p><p>Local singer-songwriter Madeleine Roger’s debut solo album, Cottonwood, will be released on Oct. 26.</p></p>

SAM BAARDMAN photo

Local singer-songwriter Madeleine Roger’s debut solo album, Cottonwood, will be released on Oct. 26.

"I think I’m more politically inclined now as a solo artist than I have been in more collaborative projects because it’s just me on the line and I can be as opinionated as I want. I don’t have to pull anyone else into it," Roger says.

This project also allowed Roger implement gender parity during the recording process; half of the musicians, producers and audio engineers identify as female.

"My whole life I’ve been looking at the liner notes of albums and so often you see this obvious lack of women in the recording studio on the tech side... and there’s never anything against that, but there is a problem when there’s a complete lack of representation," she says.

"And it’s not that there’s people who aren’t capable or willing, I just think oftentimes the tops of the lists people go to for hiring are all men. I decided I didn’t want my album to have that characteristic, and I didn’t want to be able to complain about my own album and a lack of women. So I really worked hard to make sure there was some equality at the table."

For fans of Roger, Cottonwood will be a treat — the 11 tracks are thoughtful, deliberate and emotional and present the 26-year-old in a more mature, self-assured light, both as a songwriter and performer.

"I hope that the songs come across as genuine more than anything else, because for me, that’s the most important thing as an artist. I want my art to be genuine," Roger says.

"I hope it’s like an old friend to people."

erin.lebar@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @NireRabel

Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Manager of audience engagement for news

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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