The new album by venerated local Americana musician Terri Binion has been a long, hard time coming. Fourteen years is an era by any measure, but in that time, Binion has lived at least a couple of discrete lifetimes – spanning devoted domestic life, the sudden loss of it all and the steep climb out of the abyss.
She initially planned to get back into the studio right after her second tour of Holland in 2005. Life, however, had other plans. First, Binion fell in love and married. But then, a perfect, terrible storm claimed three defining corners of her personal reality in short, soul-wrecking order. "It was an interrupted process," Binion says. "Deeply, to where life just sort of shut down, a couple of times. One time it was just creatively, earlier. And then meeting [wife] Tracy [Irwin] and wanting to delve into that relationship. And then, later on, it was tragedy."
In the span of a year between 2011 and 2012, Binion suffered the deaths of her wife and both parents, mostly in untimely surprises. The glimmer, however, came from her oldest companion: her music. Bereft but not bankrupt, Binion returned to it and found therapy in the studio with her producers David Schweizer and Justin Beckler. Amid the ruin, she managed to finally complete her latest work, The Day After the Night Before.
A collection of long-gestating songs alongside new ones directly inspired by the losses ("Long Way Back" and "Tiny Little Landmines"), the 11-song LP is a continuance of Binion's pure, distilled Southern songwriting. It pulses with the same grace and deep feeling that's made stars like Lucinda Williams, Jim White and Jimmy Webb longtime fans. The drift, naturally, is a little heavier this time. But one thing her music has always been able to do was produce a diamond from all that world weight. And in true Binion fashion, this album reaches ever harder for hope.
Now, she finds herself – figuratively and physically – back in a familiar place. She finally sold the house she shared with Irwin and recently moved back into her own longtime home, the house she owned before all of this, the place where most of her professional music has been written. Now she's about to release her first album in ages.
"It does all sort of have that full-circle sort of feeling," Binion says. "This is where I created all my songs, except for a few. ... I feel like I'm no longer the housewife, I'm no longer the wife. I'm back to being a lone artist again."
When asked if there's any comfort in this return, she replies, "Absolutely there is, because I've always been this person. I've been this person longer. I started writing songs when I was 11 years old. I started playing guitar at 10."
About the possibility that this new old groove might usher in a more active creative phase in her life, Binion says, "I hope so. I don't ever want to stop creating. It's my best friend."
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