Interview: Roan Yellowthorn

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Newcomer Jackie McLean, who performs under the moniker Roan Yellowthorn, has music in her DNA—the daughter of American songwriting icon Don McLean is carving out her own space in the musicsphere with her own brand of piano folk. “It was always a hope of mine to be able to make music, it was my focus as I was growing up. I veered away from it in college and after, I was trying to explore other things, but I kept coming back to it because it made me the happiest,” she recalls. “I decided to give it a try, and it’s been so rewarding.”

“I didn’t start writing until I was living on my own, in my own space,” she continues. “I decided to teach myself piano about a year ago; I was in a situation that was producing really strong feelings—instead of letting those feelings fester or ignoring them, I wrote a poem, and I started hearing a melody in my head. I went to the piano and picked out the melody I was hearing, it just sort of happened. It was a total surprise, it came out of left field. I didn’t even know if I would write more songs, until I was feeling strongly about another situation and another song came out, it just kept happening!”

McLean, is a storyteller inspired by folk and Americana styles of writing, and has a bright and clear vocal delivery reminiscent of Joni Mitchell; her stream-of-consciousness writing process culminated in Roan Yellowthorn, a six-song EP released in April, and she recently performed her very first showcase, held in New York City. “I was so nervous!” she says with a laugh. “It was a great crowd, there were lots of friends and family there, it was a great vibe. I felt like I broke a barrier that night, since then, it’s been easier for me to play out.”

The new artist is also a new mother, an experience stocked full of writing inspiration on its own. “One song on the EP, ‘So Fast’ was inspired by being a mom. Having a child has really opened up my heart so much more to other people and to the world. My daughter reminds me that we’re all connected, that the world contains magic, and that life is sacred,” she says. “I think that this truth influences all parts of my life including my art.”

McLean and her husband, who serves as the drummer for Roan Yellowthorn, will be playing shows and festivals this summer, so be sure to catch her show when she comes to your neck of the woods:

TOUR DATES:

Jul 15– New York, NY– Rockwood Music Hall
Aug 06 — Rockland, ME — Lobster Festival
Aug 09 — North Haven, ME — Waterman’s Theater
Aug 20 — Burlington, VT — Nectar’s Music Hall

Purchase Roan Yellowthorn: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/roan-yellowthorn-ep/id1083664602

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Susan Hubbard

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