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Indigenous artist Celeigh Cardinal releases new album

Boundless Possibilities evolved from two personal tragedies
Singer-songwriter Celeigh Cardinal releases her new album, Boundless Possibilities, at Varscona Theatre on June 21.

Grief is a painful path to walk. Some never overcome the hurt. However, Celeigh Cardinal walked through it and discovered a robust emotional core that allowed her to take control of life once again. 

The Edmonton-based singer-songwriter spoke to the Gazette about how two personal tragedies formed the songs that shaped Boundless Possibilities, her third full-length album due for release on June 21 at Varscona Theatre. 

Cardinal was pushed out of her comfort zone after her son’s father was murdered in 2020 and a close friend committed suicide. During the album’s talking stages, she originally titled it Boundless Possibilities

“I get migraines, but after they pass, there is a sense of euphoria. There is a sense of healing and amazement. But after 2020, I didn’t feel amazing. I felt heartbroken. I never knew grief until my son’s father died. I’m a different person now. I know loss in a way I had never experienced before. The deaths were part of my dreams, my life. Grief doesn't go away. It changes over time, and I started writing songs,” said Cardinal. 

The 14-track album touches on grief, mental health and gaining independence. But while themes of love and death linger throughout the album, the sound is uplifting and versatile rather than melancholy. 

The Juno Award-winning songstress mixed bag also includes songwriting collaborations with three distinctive acts: musician/sound designer Matthew Cardinal, road warriors Joey and Dave Landreth of the Landreth Bros., and folk storyteller David Francey.  

“I admired Matthew’s music. When I was working on Boundless Possibilities, we were in talks about creating a spiritual vibe for the song. I wanted a soundscape that was spacey and ethereal. I originally wrote the track on piano, and it was spoken word. Matthew’s music helped create the theme of the album.” 

Once the theme was settled, she flew to Winnipeg where she rigorously wrote two songs with the Landreth brothers, a couple of industrious writers committed to their craft. 

“They’re very professional. They get up at 5 a.m. and go to the gym and then they write diligently all day,” Cardinal said. 

The trio wrote Light of the Moon, a tribute to family and friends who have passed, but remain a constant influence and are seen everywhere in the light of the moon. They also wrote You Make It Look Easy, a song about Cardinal’s struggles in life. 

“I’ve had struggles as a woman singer-songwriter. I come from Northern Alberta, and we were one of two Native families. Being Indigenous and being a plus-size woman, I felt harassed and sometime spiteful towards people. This song helped me realize the person I am today comes from all the experiences I’ve had in the past.” 

While co-writing with the Landreth brothers was a rigorous experience, working with David Francey was completely the opposite. 

“We would spend the day drinking coffee in the sun and petting dogs. We waited for the music to come to us. We wrote two songs in five days – one for me and one for his album.” 

Cardinal’s song was Wandering River, named after the hamlet of Wandering River. It is the last stop for a tank of gas and a snack for 200 km on Highway 63 to Fort McMurray. 

“At one point I was tired of playing in pubs. I was trying to make money any way I could playing covers to drunk patrons. On my way to Fort McMurray, I’d stop at Wandering River. The name sounded magical. I often stopped to get coffee and I’d think about getting a different job ‘cause I was so sick of playing to people who didn’t care. But it was a place of positive perseverance.” 

If anything, Boundless Possibilities is an album of self-discovery. 

“I’ve always struggled with my identity. I grew up in a white community. I never felt OK being who I was. I wasn’t Native enough. I wasn’t white enough. I felt shame. I’m older now, more secure as to who I am. But it’s been a process. I’ll always evolve. I’ve shed the shame. I feel more empowered to live the life I always wanted.” 

In addition to multiple past awards, the recording artist was recently nominated for three Western Canadian Music Awards: Songwriter of the Year, Indigenous Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year for Light of the Moon. 

Cardinal hosts an album release show on June 21 at Varscona Theatre. Her special guest is Jay Gilday, a folk-rock Canadiana singer-songwriter from Yellowknife. As a songwriter, he threads together his ancestral traditions of Dene spirituals and Irish ballads, into a powerful yet breezy mix. 

The concert starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are online at 

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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