Halifax-based singer and songwriter Leanne Hoffman is ever in pursuit of that chest-swelling magic that has kept her coming back to songwriting even amidst times of intense self-doubt - and that's good news for fans of great music. We're proud to bring you this exclusive #CMPremiere of Leanne's latest video for "Turning the Truth."
"Everyone knows at least one liar," Hoffman tells Canadian Musician. "Sometimes the lies are harmless, and sometimes they are purposeful and manipulative. That’s the kind of liar 'Turning the Truth' is about. It’s about my experience with a man who continuously and confidently lied to me and others in order to get what he wanted."
The video stars Hoffman's friend and fellow musician Leith Fleming- Smith.
"Leith is the complete opposite from the type of person this song is talking about. He is kind and genuine, shows so much empathy for other people, and is extremely conscious of how he interacts with the world. It felt like the perfect juxtaposition to have such a compassionate and joyful human dancing to this song, and the result is infectious. Getting through this video without smiling is a challenge, and it feels like the perfect reminder of how to deal with people that make you feel less than worthy."
Growing up in Exeter, Ontario, Hoffman’s interests were always more literary than musical. By the time Hoffman moved to Halifax for university, however, the magnetic pull of songwriting became undeniable: she began writing more, left the program that had originally drawn her out East, and found something of a home studying music at NSCC. It was there where she met some of her first collaborators: the bluesy folk-pop duo Magnolia, which Hoffman fronted, emerged from those connections, as did her relationship with the singer Erin Costelo, who was teaching in the program at the time.
Soon, Hoffman was writing, recording and touring on a scale that would have felt unimaginable only a few years before. Magnolia recorded a self-titled EP, produced by Costelo, and toured behind it; she started singing in Costelo’s live band. Along the way, her relationship with Costelo blossomed into something between an intense mentorship and a deeply intimate creative partnership. From tweaking verses in class to leading by example night after night on stage, Costelo’s songwriting prowess left an indelible mark on Hoffman — somewhere inside of her, that songwriting itch was still there.
When Magnolia and the relationship that brought the duo together ended in 2013, Hoffman wanted to explore her own musical identity, on her own terms. The end of that relationship left her with a bevy of feelings to explore, but Hoffman’s path to creative confidence hasn’t always been easy. She’s battled self-doubt and feelings of imposterdom; she’s struggled to make songwriting an outlet for feelings other than the bad ones. She describes taking on the identity of a musician as a daily decision — and even on the days when Hoffman herself had a hard time believing in herself, Costelo encouraged her nonetheless.
Now, five years removed from her last project, Hoffman is ready to release her solo debut. Produced by Costelo and to be released on her imprint Venue Records, the album features songs spanning the rollercoaster of Hoffman’s past five years. Her songwriting has grown sharper — she’s digging into the resonance between words, finding ways to say more with less. The result feels equally indebted to contemporary pop acts like Metric as it does to songwriting greats like Randy Newman and Paul Simon. Against a backdrop of Americana-influenced guitars and subtle synths, Hoffman’s lyrics and resonant voice remain front and centre: she’s singing about subjects from romance to family and aging to gender equality, sharing her soul as she chases that magical musical synergy.
Check out her upcoming tour dates at: leannehoffman.com/shows
Photo: Carolina Andrade