Charlotte Cornfield

Could Have Done Anything (Polyvinyl/Double Double Whammy)

Contact Jacob Daneman, Jaycee Rockhold about Charlotte Cornfield

Charlotte Cornfield presents her new single/video, “Gentle Like The Drugs,” from her forthcoming album, Could Have Done Anything, out this Friday, May 12 on Polyvinyl/Double Double Whammy. “Gentle Like the Drugs” draws on imagery from a spring tour in the American west. “I wrote this song after a particularly special and memorable tour opening for Pedro the Lion in the west of the US. Something strong clicked on that tour, and I was experiencing joy on the road in a way I really hadn’t before, feeling fully present and just revelling in the company of my bandmates and taking in the spectacular landscape in a way that felt like a deep breath.” Cornfield says, “I had never really been to the desert before, to Southern Utah and Arizona, and I was very moved by it. This is a drifting summer song to me, about letting grief and anxiety go and feeling light and buzzed and in love and joyful.”


You can hear it in the patient pleasure of these chords, or the way Cornfield narrates her first impressions of Arizona: “I watch the colors get real / the pink and the teal / I see a dust devil / I see an elevator.” Like riding across the desert with your friends; like smoking a joint at the end of a long day; but the song’s alternating verses orient themselves towards another sensation, too: that feeling of being home, and happy, when your lover’s not around. Not because they’re gone, but because you know they will return.


“Gentle Like The Drugs” is presented alongside a transportive video directed by Ali Vanderkruyk. Of the video, Vanderkruyk adds: “The video is a 16mm travelogue following the hand of a wanderer writing postcards to a loved one back home. Each vignette acts as vessel for the lyrics for the song, acknowledging the beauty of home while observing the unfamiliar. We see the kitsch in chosen images for a postcard, as well as the ways one can personalize an object that is available to the masses.”


Could Have Done Anything, the follow-up to Cornfield’s break-out hit Highs in the Minuses, is a testament to this uncommon life and all its possibilities, an acknowledgment that the best musicians can turn fleeting moments into timeless songs. Throughout, Cornfield tried to channel the energy of her favorite classic records, from Tapestry to Blood On The Tracks to Car Wheels On A Gravel Road — albums where the listener is simply carried by the songs and the playing.


Whereas Cornfield’s preceding albums were made in familiar settings, with troupes of friends, this time she reached into the unknown, contacting producer Josh Kaufman (Bonny Light Horseman). The two convened in Upstate New York, first at the stained-glass-tinted Dreamland Recording Studios, then at the nearby Isokon Studio, run by engineer D. James Goodwin (Kevin Morby, Whitney) and assistant engineer Gillian Pelkonen. Four people, one album, six days; Kaufman and Cornfield (who went to school for jazz drums) played every instrument themselves, from ringing guitars to cozy piano, Hammond B3, pedal steel and synthesizers. That was the spirit of this record: connection, possibility, acceptance. “Don’t be afraid to take a left,” Kaufman would say.


After six days of recording, Cornfield went back to Canada, with a new album to mix and master. Another day-long drive; another homecoming; and one more thing, too, which would arise a little over nine months later: the singer’s first baby, who was born in mid-April. Anything can happen. Every year’s a kind of coming-of-age, and over these nine magnetic tracks, Cornfield begins yet another chapter as a mother.