There are two things singer-songwriter Jeanne Jolly has picked up since this paper last heard from her three years ago. She got an adorable yellow Lab named Lucy, of whom Jolly is always ready to show iPhone photos, and she got married last October to Todd Mclean, her boyfriend of four years.
“He has been to all my shows around here,” says Jolly, sipping French press coffee at a local Raleigh eatery. “He’s usually the salesman in the back, selling CDs. He comes by that pretty naturally. He’s a salesman, so whenever he’s working the merch table, those are my best nights.”
Oh yes, these new developments have certainly made the country-loving (and country-playing) Raleigh native’s life even more jolly than her last name suggests. But she’s also beaming because she recently completed a new album, which she recorded at Fidelitorium Recordings in Kernersville.
“I’m really proud of the family of people we put together for it,” she says, referring to the band she assembled with longtime friend/collaborator (and The Hot at Nights guitarist) Chris Boerner.”
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Working on the album,not yet named, was certainly a communal experience. “We all stayed there for four days, in a cabin on the property, and immersed ourselves day and night – made the record, slept little, ate breakfast together, lunch together, dinner together,” she remembers. “And I’ve never made a record like that. So, it was neat to just live and breathe it, instead of, you know, going back to the studio once a week to do little bits and pieces.”
Recording in rustic settings appears to be a new constant in Jolly’s life these days. She recently recorded a song with Raleigh musician Matt Douglas in a studio – known as “The Shed” – on his downtown Raleigh property. “I love singing with him, working with him,” she says. “He plays saxophone on my new record, and that’s something new. There are not horns on my previous releases.”
With Jolly concentrating more on this project, she didn’t have time to tour with the Foreign Exchange, the Triangle-based R&B band led by rapper Phonte Coleman and producer Nicolay Rook. For the past few years, Jolly has been serving as a background singer for the band.
“We still, obviously, love to continue working together,” she says. “Our schedules were crossing, so it kind of just worked out to just keep folks in on what I was doing and play the dates with my band.”
Unlike her last album, 2012’s “Angels,” her new project will not be released on the Foreign Exchange Music label. Just as she did with her 2010 debut EP, “Falling in Carolina,” Jolly wants to continue releasing her music independently. “I’ve always been writing on my own,” she says. “So that’s what I was doing before I met them and I’m continuing to do that now.”
However, she is forever grateful to the Exchange for introducing her folksy, country stylings to an international legion of fans.
“Foreign Exchange fans are the most diverse fans of any group I’ve ever been a part of, as far as the variety of what they listen to,” she says. “They have such a broad reach all over the world. For instance, ‘Sweet Love,’ the single from my last record – I just got a Google alert – has been translated in Japanese and Arabic. There are people in South Africa that have downloaded the song, and people in Japan that have ordered the CD. And I know for sure I could’ve never reached that on my own, you know… So it’s their fans that kind of took me in.”
Jolly is looking to drop her album sometime this year. Until then, she’s psyched about doing shows around the Tar Heel State, including the one this Saturday in Carrboro. “These regional shows in March I’m just really excited about, because I’m finally able to get back to it,” she says. “And, this time, I’m sharing some songs from the upcoming record and get to play with my friends again and see everybody.”
Who: Jeanne Jolly, with Brett Harris
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: The ArtsCenter, 300-G E. Main St., Carrboro
Info: 919-929-2787 or artscenterlive.org