It’s likely been a little while since you’ve heard Megan Reilly’s name. Six years ago the Illinois Times was saying “Her music works on an almost subliminal level, lulling you into a state of perfect receptiveness and infiltrating your consciousness like a restless spirit,” and the Dallas Observer was likening her sound to “ If Dolly Parton sang in her sleep and occasionally wailed in terror at a nightmare.” Since then, however, she’s remained largely off the radar. In that time she’s gotten married, had a child, moved from NYC to Philadelphia to New Jersey, and learned to sew, bake, and quilt. However, she recently decided to return to music. Her third LP, The Well, hits stores on April 24th, courtesy of Carrot Top Records, and this weekend Philadelphia will host two Megan Reilly live performances: Friday, April 20th at Tin Angel and Saturday, April 21st at Main Street Music (sharing the bill with John Wesley Harding in both cases).
Reilly originally hails from Memphis, Tennessee, which lingered in her sound for quite some time, with her first two releases, Arc of Tessa and Let Your Ghost Go, being marked by morbid and morose alt. country. However, at twenty-three Reilly moved to New York City, where she has remained for the majority of her career as a musician, until this hiatus of sorts, from which she’s finally returning. Reilly’s current sound, as heard on The Well, does maintain its dark and mysterious origins, but its whimsy feels quite a bit more hopeful than on previous releases, largely inspired by her new-found stability in lifestyle. I recently chatted with Megan about her departure from and return to music and what, exactly, she has planned for 2012.
Izzy Cihak: It’s been about half a decade since your last album and your life has taken quite a change of pace since then. How has everything that’s happened impacted your outlook on life and your own output? Do you think fans will be able to hear a difference on The Well?
Megan Reilly: I think the songwriting reflects more than just the emotional landscape. Playing with this band for all these years has greatly affected me artistically. And I suppose any artist hopes he or she gets better with age.
IC: What aspects of life or segments of culture do you feel serve as the biggest inspirations for your work?
MR: Anything that makes me pause usually gets written about. The Well has a full range of emotion. Love, above all else, but loss, of bigger proportion than I ever felt before. The title “The Well” symbolizes a lot for me, but one part of it is I went deeper than I’ve ever been and came out gracefully.
IC: Do you feel like the music scene in general has changed significantly since you released your last album? Is there anything that you missed this time around or, conversely, are thankful for this time around?
MR: Last time around magazines had a bigger presence. Sometimes I worry the digital era is giving everyone attention deficit. But social media has allowed me to connect with people and hear from them and that’s really important to me.
IC: Now that you’ve finished the album after all this time, what are your musical plans for 2012?
MR: I want to write another record, tour, maybe have another kid.
IC: Since this is a Philadelphia-based publication and you have actually lived in the city, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on it. Anything you particularly love or particularly hate? How has Philthy (as we like to call it) treated you?
MR: Is Philly filthy? Is that fair? Brooklyn is filthy. Brooklyn has chicken bones in the street. You guys can try to act dirty but you’re not. I lived there. I know how beautiful it is!