Updated: May 20
by Scott Roos
Prince Albert expat Katelyn Lehner has been on a roll this past year. In the fall she released her debut single "Red". It was a track that featured darker textures and a bluesy yet playful vibe throughout. It had a clever, memorable hook which turned out to be a very successful venture for Lehner as it managed to climb its way up the charts and garner her enough attention to capture the Saskatchewan Country Music Associations "Emerging Artist of the Year" honour at the 2021 awards night gala.
Lehner is not one to rest on her laurels, though. Striking whilst the iron is hot, she is set to release a new single just in time for summer and just in time for Saskatchewan's next phase of the reopen plan to kick in. It's called "Without you" and it could very well be the hottest country track to emerge this season.
"I've had this song for a little while and I've loved it ever since I wrote it. I knew that I wanted to release (it) after having 'Red' out and it doing as well as it did. I knew that I wanted to have a second song that was a bit of a step up from that one," explained Lehner in a recent conversation with NSMZ.
Unlike "Red", "Without You" has a much brighter overall feel. Even though the subject matter is about a breakup, it still somehow manages to radiate a metric ton of positivity. You get the impression that, despite the fact that a relationship is ending, the prospect of the new beginning that will result is much more appealing. It's hard not to relate it to COVID and the fact that many in Saskatchewan are ready to safely move on from the pandemic. It's been a long and arduous journey with the virus and the timing of this release is just too perfect. Even though that's not what Lehner intended the track to metaphorically represent, she still welcomes fan interpretation of her songs.
"It obviously is a breakup song but I feel like people can relate to this in any way. I was doing a live stream last year and I was asking people if they had a song they wanted me to play and someone wrote a comment in and said 'oh hey can you play your original happy breakup song' and I was like 'oh that's so cool' so I've just been calling 'Without You' my happy breakup song because I think that's what it is," said Lehner.
A lot of the big radio feel to the song could be attributed to Saskatoon based producer Bart McKay (multi-CCMA Producer of the Year). Working with the foundational material that was originally recorded at Honeytunes (home base of Tucker Lane/Universal Honey principals Johnn Sinclair and Leslie Stanwyck), in January McKay proceeded to put his own personal sheen onto the track. The result is a unique hybrid of styles between the two groups; a best of both worlds in a way.
"Someone like Bart McKay you can trust that he's gonna make something fantastic," raved Lehner about working with McKay, "So you just give him the track and say, 'do your thing'. I was so excited when I got the song back from him . I listened to it so many times over and over. It was everything that I wanted that song to be like," raved Lehner.
At the end of the day, as the province begins to shake loose from our COVID19 slumber and safely and cautiously emerge from our isolation cocoons, Lehner is excited and ready to return to playing her songs live. Musicians crave connection with live audiences. It's why they went into the business in the first place and a young and emerging talent like Lehner is up to the task of entertaining a live music starved province. Support live. Support local. Support Katelyn Lehner because she's worked hard and deserves all the accolades she earned up until this point and more. With "Without You, Lehner has proven that the success of "Red" was no fluke and her future looks very bright as a result.
"I feel like everyone's just counting down the days until we can do live shows and everything again. With summer coming I'm hoping maybe I can do things outdoors and have a little bit larger attendance as long as everything is safe and social distancing and things like that but I'm itching and ready to get back on stage with my band and play 'Without You' live," said Lehner.
"Without You" is available on all streaming services on May 28th and will release to country radio May 31st with an official lyric video coming out towards the end of June.
*pictures by Deanna Roos of Contingent Colours Photography