In this week's cover story, I talk to Theresa Andersson about her upcoming album Street Parade, out April 24 on Basin Street Records. While working on the album, Andersson feared she wouldn't be able to sing, at least not how she used to. "I sounded like a 13-year-old boy," she says. "That really scared me."
While writing and recording, Andersson gave birth to her now 9-month-old daughter, Elsie.
"I thought I was going to be ready to sing a couple weeks (later), but I gave myself a month, and a month and a half went by, and I was nowhere near ready," says Andersson, counting on her fingers the weeks that went by before she could sing again. Ten fingers later, she was ready.
"We’d go walking at 6 in the morning," she says. "I tried to walk, tried to start running, get my lungs working. I'd go run around the park, try to sing when no one was there, and it was awful. Elsie didn’t mind. ... It sounded like a crazy elephant. But it came back."
On Street Parade, Andersson is climbing out from the middle — it's her post-metamorphosis album, following a whirlwind tour after her breakthrough Hummingbird, Go!, and her new life with husband Arthur Mintz and baby daughter. She's also more comfortable affirming her Swedish roots — her dark pop aligns with the grim melancholy of New Orleans, celebrating amid post-parade garbage piles and heartache. That idea of the street parade — anticipation, anxiety, bursting joy, the high, and the calm, in that order — mirrored so perfectly her life before writing and recording. So losing her voice at the moment she was so prepared to unleash it (and having not recorded an album since 2008) was momentarily devastating.
Her voice is her go-to instrument. It's often quadrupled in harmony onstage, where Andersson surrounds herself with an arsenal of electronics and instruments for her one-woman show. It flies. On Street Parade, it's more focused. Here she performs "Fiya's Gone," the somber track that follows the affirming "What Comes Next":
Andersson performs at a string of dates this month, including a full band performance this weekend at French Quarter Fest, where she takes the Abita stage at Woldenberg Riverfront Park at 2:15 p.m. Sunday, April 15.
She also was just added to Preservation Hall's Midnight Preserves concert series. She'll join the band at midnight Saturday, April 28.