Caitlin Cannon pulled herself out of a creative slump with her new The TrashCannon Album, from which "Deliver," the first song the Nashville/Colorado singer-songwriter wrote after giving up drinking, premieres exclusively on Billboard today (Feb. 6).
"I was trying very hard to be normal," Cannon, who made music and acted in New York City and fronted the bands the Artillery and the Cannondolls, tells Billboard. She had even moved to Durango, Colorado, where she learned to style hair from her mother and took over her salon clientele. "She was going to retire, and she was like, 'Do you want me to teach you to cut hair?' At that point I was like, 'I shouldn't say no.'
"But my producer Megan Burtt] had a little bit of a come-to-Jesus moment] with me, and we went through all of my songs I hadn't done anything with, and we realized there was some cohesion there for a bit of a concept album. It's an album about all the trashiest parts of my life."
The TrashCannon Album, which comes out May 15 and is Cannon's first full-length set, finds her indeed talking about some gritty issues, including a brother who's in prison and, in the case of "Deliver" and its kissing cousin companion track "Drink Enough," Cannon's own struggles with alcoholism.
"I wrote 'Drink Enough' in a blackout; I woke up and it was on my voice memo," recalls Cannon, who's been through both recovery and relapse. "It was the last song I wrote before I stopped drinking, and then 'Deliver' was the first song I wrote when I stopped drinking. It's funny because I sent 'Deliver'] to a couple of songwriting competitions, and they told me that, 'It can't be about the man and the Manhattan. You have to pick one.' But if you've ever been in a situation where you've sobered up and realized your situation is intolerable, there's no way to do both.
"I will say it's a pretty big, complicated concept, but it's one of those songs I feel like people get when they really listen to it. I think that's when you know you've found your writer's voice; When people tell you that you should change your song, and you're like, 'No, it's fine to exist that way.'"
Forthright as they are, Cannon says that digging in for the songs for The TrashCannon Album was easier than skirting the issues, or making up fictional stories. "I think you get to a point where you stop caring about whether or not people are going to like or accept your art, and then it's a lot easier to be bold," she explains. "And what I try to do with troubled things that I've struggled with is find the joke in it. I do that in life, too. I think that's a nice way to bring awareness but also bring healing. There's an intention about it that's good, even if it might be a little bit raw."
Cannon is planning a release show in “every region where I have people," including Durango, where she still maintains a salon, Nashville and West Hollywood, as well as late summer dates on the East Coast. Also among Cannon's "people" are prison inmates, thanks to recent performances at penitentiaries. "I'm a Beatle in prison," she cracks. "In Pennsylvania they have a program in their prisons, so I went in with a full band to play songs like 'Mama's a Hairdresser' for all these guys who have life without parole sentences. A lot of them were like, 'You wrote that for your brother, but you write it for me.' That was pretty crazy."
Listen to Cannon’s "Deliver" below.