Duluth musician finds new meaning with ‘Lanue’
Known for her rich vocals and poetic sense, Sarah Krueger releases her latest project under a new name.
This all starts with a poem by Alan Seeger that opens with “sweet music undulated round” and ends with “red flames of my desire,” and the way the words keep winding into Sarah Krueger’s life — bringing with it new meanings each time.
It’s not so much the new takes she finds on rereads, it’s that there are new takes with rereads.
“I really like the idea that as you age, and as you change, the meaning of a text can change as you revisit it,” the Duluth musician said.
Krueger, who describes herself as being on a new creative path, has adopted the name of the poem, Lanue (though it’s “La Nue” in Seeger’s telling), as the creative identity behind her March 2 album release — available for purchase at lanuemusic.com and on music.com, iTunes and Bandcamp, and available for streaming on all platforms.
It’s her first collection since 2014’s well received “Lustrous,” released long enough ago that Krueger said she feels like she is in a different place and ready to shed the old and face forward — with a new name attached.
“I guess, personally, I don’t want to be releasing music under my name,” Krueger said. “It feels kind of like Sarah Krueger — that’s what I make my mortgage payments with. It doesn’t feel like a creative label; it just feels like me.
“I want there to be some disconnect between my everyday, mundane life and what I choose to show the world creatively.”
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In the seven years since “Lustrous,” Krueger has also built up a small business curating vintage clothing. Ochre Stone includes secondhand pieces that she finds while combing through racks and her own handmade clay earrings in retro shapes that ripple, flower, arc and take on the female form.
She has also continued to write songs, and in 2018, she collected some of her favorite players — Steve Garrington, Sean Carey, JT Bates, Ben Lester — at Hive in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. She doubled back to the studio in 2019; the album was mixed and mastered, and there she was with a new album at the start of an unpredictable pandemic.
“That’s a strange time to release music,” Krueger said.
She was dreading the idea of putting out an album without any kind of celebration or connection with other people. The connection, she said, is what’s most important, and a virtual concert wouldn’t fulfil that need for her.
Then the pandemic went on and on and on and: “I didn’t want to hold on to it any longer,” she said of the album. “If there is a time when people need music — I find myself needing music — it’s now.
“People are in a position to listen closer and listen more and feel more.”
Still, it’s a sacrifice for her.
“It feels like the connections that are so important to me don’t get to be forged when you’re at home releasing music,” she said.
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Krueger introduced her new album, in all its lushness and warmth, with the summer-spun video for “What I Love the Most,” a single that sounds how it looks — golden hour and gauzy fabrics on a Lake Superior playscape.
She has a poet’s sensibility in the way she uses repetition to make both meaning and music. In “September,” a song that both asks for and receives “a little grace,” she sings, “he had a way with me, way with me, way with me” in a way that is its own instrument. “Mexico” is an escapist fantasy — the chance to skip town, “put our bodies in the sand, forget who we are, find ourselves a couple bicycles, ride around the town, drink tequilas at the bars” with a sobering twist: the need to return home and remember who they are.
It’s “Something Sacred” that brings the album back to the concept of “Lanue.” The song is about the way art moves through a person, what resonates, what doesn’t, what turns insides to gold.
Krueger said she has been thinking about this a lot.
“I think it’s interesting to consider the vessel that art passes through,” she said. “Who creates it and who receives it and what’s happening in that space.”
Krueger found a collection of Seeger’s work more than a decade ago at a thrift store. In the years since, whenever she has picked it up, she’s been pulled back to “La Nue.” Seeger, uncle of folk singer Pete Seeger, was an American-born poet who died while fighting in World War I with the French Foreign Legion.
Krueger noticed that every time, the meaning of the work changed for her, she said. This concept resonated with her as she made the shift from Sarah Krueger to Lanue.