Michaela Anne is earning rave reviews for her latest self-produced recording. (Courtesy Matt Wignall)

Michaela Anne takes a risk with ‘Desert Dove’

Songwriter expands country horizons on new album

Nashville vet Michaela Anne can’t hide her disdain for the country music industry. One can stay submerged in it for so long, focusing on glittery illusions (such as the favorable New York Times review awarded her sophomore album, 2014’s “Bright Lights and the Fame”) until one runs out of oxygen. “Meanwhile, everything was falling apart all around me,” she says, sighing. “The label dropped out, the publicist dropped out, there was no tour support to speak of, and I was playing to three people per date.” She resolved to try something drastically different with the forlorn, canyon-echoey “Desert Dove,” her new album on Yep Roc Records.

You had a daredevil plan for “Desert Dove” — you doubled down.

I finally realized that this might be a lifetime of hardship — half amazing, but half really f—— hard, so did I want to still be in this? And I didn’t have a plan B. I went to school, I have two degrees — I got a degree in jazz vocal performance and a degree in sociology and history, so I have the resources and skills to possibly do something else, but I couldn’t imagine what. So I made the decision that music and all of its good parts outweigh all of the struggles, even if I play tiny clubs the rest of my life. It was one of those kind of moments. When it got to the point of making a new record, and whether I should crowdfund it or not, I thought, “OK, if I’m not going to risk it all, how could I expect other people to believe in me if I don’t gamble on myself?”

Then what?

I took out a bunch of credit cards and I made this record. With no label, not knowing what was going to happen. I was determined to not ask for help from anybody, but I was panicking the whole time, thinking, “What if this doesn’t work out?” But I kept doing everything with the intention and the mindset that it is going to work out, because I have no other choice. And I’m lucky, because I’m married to another musician, Aaron Shafer-Haiss, and we were miraculously able to buy a house before Nashville prices got insane. He plays drums in my touring band.

Why record out here in San Clemente?

That was all circumstantial. Kelly Winrich, who co-produced the record, he’s from there and his family built this studio in their basement. He lives in New York, but he said, “We can make the album here in Brooklyn, or at my parents’ studio on the beach.” And I said, “That’s a no-brainer. We’re going to California!”


Joe Pug, Michaela Anne

Where: Chapel, 777 Valencia St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24

Tickets: $18

Contact: www.thechapelsf.com

Pop Music

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