… I’m not generally one for holiday festivities, but if I had some means by which to briefly escape Center City, I would likely be spending this Saturday evening, December 22nd, at Steel City Coffeehouse in Phoenixville for a holiday show courtesy of Winterbloom.  Winterbloom is a folk pop quartet, comprised of Antje Duvekot, Anne Heaton, Meg Hutchinson, and Natalia Zuckerman, four internationally acclaimed singer/songwriters who came together at a live show in late 2008 and promptly recorded their debut, Winterbloom: Traditions Rearranged (Which is, quite literally a celebration and “rearrangement” of holiday traditions.)  Since then, the band has toured on-and-off, whenever the four women all manage to find some free time from their solo output, although a chance to get to see them live is still relatively rare and something not-to-be-passed-up.

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I recently got a chance to catch up with Anne Heaton who, in addition to getting back together with Winterbloom, has been busy polishing off and promoting her fourth solo LP, Honeycomb.  The LP, released this past October, boasts a refreshingly traditional take on “the album” (It also includes stunning packaging and artwork courtesy of Brian Grunert.)  Honeycomb is divided into two sides, with decidedly different tones, revolving around impermanence and the concept of enjoying your life as you live it.  While both could be considered ultimately “optimistic,” the first half is likely to inspire joyous outbursts, while the second half is better suited for relatively heavy musings on just about the largest existential scope…  The album’s tracks could generally be described as hyper-ethereal pop or folk at its most auspicious.  In our recent chat Anne talked to me about the inspiration behind the album, what can be expected of Winterbloom’s upcoming dates, and what she’s got in the works for 2013.

Izzy Cihak: You recently released your fourth album, Honeycomb.  What have been the highlights of promoting the release, thus far?  Or, for that matter, what have been your highlights of 2012?

Anne Heaton: Honeycomb was partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign, so it was a  good feeling to feel like people were “with me” and supporting me in making  sure this music came into the world. The album is still pretty new and  it’s been wonderful to tour in the Northeast and Midwest, to share the songs with people this fall. It was also fun to hear the title track playing in Starbucks in Ohio the other day, while I was on tour.

IC: How do you feel as though this album’s direction relates to your previous releases?  What were its biggest influences, whether musical or otherwise (It contains quite incredible artwork.)?

AH: This album is similar to my previous releases in that it delves deep  into relationships and the psychological and spiritual influences in  them. What is different is that I allowed myself to be inspired by the words of others. The album includes both upbeat pop relationship songs (which I wrote the lyrics to) as well as more meditative/contemplative settings of two Rumi poems (translation Coleman Barks) and “The Prayer of Saint Francis.” I also included a cover of Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” because I liked how it related to the overall theme of impermanence that runs throughout the record.

IC: You’ve shared the stage with quite a few notable artists.  Are there any you are especially proud to have shared a bill with?  Are there any artists you fantasize about touring with, whether entirely realistic or not?

AH: I’ve toured with many of my friends who continue to inspire me. The show I’m playing in Phoenixville this weekend is with Winterbloom, which includes Meg Hutchinson, Natalia Zukerman, Antje Duvekot, and myself.   All of these women songwriters inspire me greatly. I also just finished a tour with Melissa Ferrick, which was really fun. The two people I dream most of touring with or working with in a humanitarian/musical way are Peter Gabriel and Annie Lennox. They are my musical heroes. I also adore The Indigo Girls. I think reaching out to other artists I admire has not, historically, been one of my greatest strengths, but maybe that will change.

IC: What can fans expect of your upcoming dates, whether in regards to the setlist or just the general live experience?

AH: We perform together both traditional and original holiday songs as well as original songs that relate to the themes of the season.

IC: What are your plans for the holidays and, then, into the New Year?

AH: My plans for the holiday and new year are to go home and be with my family. I miss them. Also, I’m having a baby girl at the end of February, so I’d like to slow down a little before her birth. 🙂 I still have my own shows through the month of February, but I may walk to the stage a little slower or play while sitting down. 😉