Phöenix Lazare masterfully melds the intimacy of folk music with alluring pop melodies on Gold, a self-produced debut album that charts her personal journey navigating growth. A native of Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Lazare has charted a shimmering creative path through Boston, Nashville, Toronto and back, where she completed the album.
“The writing and recording process has seen a lot of time and a lot of places. I look at this album as a transition - from girl to woman, from toxic relationships to healthy balance... digging through dirt to find the gold. It reflects where I’ve been and dreams about where I’m going.”
Throughout its 10 original tracks, Gold introduces Lazare as a down-to-earth songwriter who shows her vulnerability – and willingly shares that emotional openness with others. Her musical inspirations range from Joni Mitchell to John Mayer, and like those artists, she has created a warm sonic style that stays authentic to her songs.
That’s especially true on the title track to Gold, a gleaming example of her brave lyricism and compelling voice. “That song embodies who I am as a person and who I am as an artist,” she says. “I wrote it about my fiancé, looking into our future with hope, almost as if through gold-tinted glasses.”
Sidestepping a professional recording studio altogether, Lazare began to create Gold at home in Nashville, where she lived for a time after graduating from Berklee College of Music in 2017 with a degree in songwriting. Phöenix finished recording the album at her family’s home studio and in her own home studio, too, cultivating a comfortable creative atmosphere. Coming from a musical family, Lazare has been singing ever since she could speak. At 12, her parents gifted her a classical guitar and almost instantly she began writing her own songs as she learned to play the instrument.
Her father, electric guitarist Christopher Lazare, serves as her duet partner on “Common Ground,” a powerful ballad written with Michael Martinez in 2016 during a turbulent American election cycle. The album also features her brother Atom Lazare on drum set and her partner Justin Kelley on electric guitar, as well as a handful of friends to round out the arrangements, keeping the vibe intimate and familiar.
Throughout the autobiographical album, Lazare mines her most formative experiences, such as an early breakup that guided her toward a better partner (“The Other Side”), or being used in a relationship (“Rubberband”). Still, a last-minute addition to Gold titled “Against All Odds” displays her determination to shine on.
“That song was the last track to make it onto the album” she says. “I wrote it during a very transitional time in my life. I had just moved back to Canada and was staying with family in Toronto. I didn’t really have a home and was thinking a lot about where I was in my life and where I wanted to be. I was feeling lost - I still am, and probably always will be - but it reminded me to have faith that what is meant to be will be.”
Although Gold gathers glimpses of the last decade, it is Lazare’s keen ability as a producer and storyteller that makes this lustrous collection feel cohesive and complete.
“I look back on these songs as snapshots of my life, echoing experiences that ultimately made me a better person,” she says. “The album is for a listener to get to know me - I know I got to know myself in the process. Whether through love, loss or finding faith, it is about growing from those experiences.”