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Song You Need to Know: Helen Shanahan, ‘Canvas’

Set to appear on the album of the same name, “Canvas” sees Helen Shanahan looking inwards as she ruminates on pleasing others at the expense of her own happiness.

Jane Tionowidjaja*

As Perth’s Helen Shanahan gears up to release her new album, Canvas, in early March, the Perth-based artist has given fans another preview, sharing the title track ahead of its release on Friday.

Having been a staple of the Australian music scene for many years now, Shanahan has been working towards her Canvas album for quite some time now. Working with Jon Clements for recording, with producing being handled remotely by Brad Jones in Nashville, the upcoming record showcases pop sensibilities while still staying true to Shanahan’s country singer/songwriter roots.

Now, she’s given fans an insight into her versatility with title track, “Canvas”. Feeling reminiscent of names such as Joni Mitchell or Kacey Musgraves, it’s a heartfelt track that showcases Shanahan’s ability to tell a powerful story while gentle a gentle instrumental ebbs and flows beneath the introspective, reflective lyrics.

“The single was inspired by a theme from a songwriting group (I Heart Songwriting Club) I joined in 2018,” Shanahan explains. “The theme was ‘lessons’, and it made me think about how I learnt to make myself small and essentially a doormat for a particular group of people.

“The song brought up lots of mixed emotions, as it unravelled how that relationship effected my adult life and how I had to ‘unlearn’ my feelings of low self-esteem and worth.”

In addition to the track, “Canvas” also comes paired with a Jane Tionowidjaja-directed video which captures the inspiration of the track; following a young girl as she grows, having learnt to make herself small to suit the people in her life. Ultimately, the clip underlines the sadness and confusion that follows having spent a life making others happy and being unable to do the same for yourself.

“The music video revolves around the concept of what it means ‘to be’ and how we become a summation of our own life experiences,” Tionowidjaja explains. “It’s what we learn over time but also what we decide to tolerate when we relate to those we love.”

While “Canvas” is set to officially release on Friday, February 4th, its accompanying album of the same name will arrive one month later on March 4th. In celebration of the record’s release, Shanahan will perform an album launch show at the Night Owl Studio in Morley, WA on Saturday, March 5th, with details below.

Helen Shanahan’s “Canvas” is released on Friday, February 4th, while the album Canvas will be released on Friday, March 4th.

Helen Shanahan – Canvas launch show

Saturday, March 5th
Night Owl Studio, Morley WA
Tickets: TryBooking