Less than a month after its release date, Ottawa Valley singer-songwriter Danah-Lee’s emotionally charged second album Sunshine & Bonbons has breezed past 1,000 streams on Spotify.
Danah-Lee Krieger, who goes by Danah-Lee in the musical world, posted the announcement on Facebook on Mar. 25, less than a month after celebrating the EP’s release at a sold out launch party.
Last time we caught up, Krieger was still riding the high that came with the release of her debut album, The Post Concussion Syndrome. A little over a year later, she says her music isn’t the only thing that has grown.
“This album, for me, is an album of healing – in a different sense than the last one, of course,” Krieger says. “I’ve been through a lot this year. The last album was about healing on a physical spectrum, this one is more on the emotional spectrum.”
In February 2017, Krieger was in a life-changing car accident that turned her life upside down. Unable to work due to a serious concussion, she poured all her energy into writing songs that would eventually become her first solo album. In the months that followed, while her bruised brain repaired itself, Krieger endured months of vestibular, cognitive, physiological and chiropractic therapies. She also suffered from vision problems and difficulty with speech.
Sunshine and Bonbons speaks to a different kind of pain, and you can hear it in every note. Krieger says much of the writing that went into Sunshine & Bonbons was fuelled by a messy break-up that had been dragging on for almost two years (we all know that kind of break-up is the absolute worst, am I right?) and came to an explosive culmination shortly before production on the album began.
If you’ve ever been through that kind of break-up, So Tough will surely evoke those agonizing feelings of helplessness, frustration and even guilt that come with mixed-messages and an ex that won’t stop coming around.
Sunshine & Bonbons was the brainchild of Krieger and co-producers Jordon Zadorozny (who previously worked with artists like Sam Roberts and Courtney Love) and Phil Hulan, who also played bass on the album. It was recorded in Zadorozny’s home studio in Pembroke, where Krieger says she felt at home exercising as much creative license as she needed.
“Working with them made me feel like I had my voice back,” Krieger gushes. “There were no constrictions, no feeling bad for having certain creative expectations for the songs or what I wanted to get out of them.”
Krieger’s head-bopping, hip shaking, make-you-want-to-go-key-your-exes-car sassy side is juxtaposed on this album by heart-wrenching songs like Rewind (Home) and I Ain’t Sinkin’ Yet. These tracks ooze heartache, pain and most importantly, hope:
As long as I got a little wind in my sails
As long as I got a little hope left to help me
As long as I feel this thing beating down in my chest
And the more that I wish you were here, the deeper it gets
And I keep my head up with the last bit of strength I have left
I ain’t sinkin’ yetI Ain’t Sinkin’ Yet, Danah-Lee (Sunshine & Bonbons)
But as far as physical healing goes, Krieger isn’t out of the woods just yet. In the spring of 2018, a trip to the doctor’s office for some ear pain came with a shocking diagnosis of a rare form of multiple sclerosis (MS).
“I had an MRI that showed brain lesions for the MS,” Krieger explains. “I remember going to the MS clinic and thinking ‘oh my god, this is so crazy. I can’t believe I’m on my way to the MS clinic. What the hell?’ I had already been doing some writing, but that was when I decided I had to get in and start recording the album.”
In typical Danah-Lee fashion, Krieger took all the hardships she was going through with grace and turned it into music, which she says has always been the one constant in her life.
“I have to say, the album and being able to create a product that is mine is a big part of the healing,” she says. “It was cathartic. I just remember thinking, thank God I have music.”
Despite the onset of symptoms associated with MS such as spasms, stiffness and extreme fatigue, Krieger says she tries to stay on her feet and on the go as much as possible.
“I still have my full-time business, teaching over 70 students a week. It’s very exhausting, though,” she admits. “I see myself exercising less now because I’m so tired at the end of the day. I’m just so tired. All the time.”
Nonetheless, Krieger says her self-built vocal school, More Than A Song Studios, is alive and well. She teaches voice during the week at elementary schools in Arnprior and Renfrew, at home in the evenings and in Almonte on Wednesdays.
To cope with the ever-increasing number of students, Krieger says she had to open up another full day and now teaches Monday to Friday.
To top it off, just this week Krieger received her Diploma in Teaching Contemporary Singing (with Merit!) from The Voice College. She says when it comes to mustering up enough energy to get through the day, music and her students get all the credit. They push her to keep moving forward, which forces all the “yuckiness” that could be happening in her life to the back of her mind.
“I just want to keep doing it because it’s so awesome and the kids are fantastic,” she says, her voice overflowing with pride. “And there’s so much talent! These kids blow my socks off, they’re so amazing.”
It has been a pleasure following along with Krieger’s musical journey so far, and I look forward to our next chat (by which time Sunshine & Bonbons will no doubt have surpassed 10,000 streams on Spotify) and finding out what she will conquer next.