Straight From the Heart


July 8, 2024

Words by: Breanna Mroczek

Photography by: Steven Hope

Celeigh Cardinal goes through the (e)motions for her third album

When singer-songwriter Celeigh Cardinal released her third album, Boundless Possibilities, in June 2024, it sounded very different from what she originally planned for the album when she started writing it in 2019. Originally called Euphoria, Cardinal was inspired by “the amazing, euphoric feeling I have after healing from a migraine,” and was experimenting with upbeat pop and electronic sounds. But when 2020 hit, everything changed. Cardinal was awarded Indigenous Artist or Group of the Year at the JUNO Awards, which for her was a “life goal.” But the achievement was followed by the low of the murder of her son’s father. “It was such a roller coaster of emotions, all while I’m continuing to have one of my busiest years of work and trying to process what was happening during the pandemic.”

When Cardinal returned to songwriting, she took the album in a new direction. Boundless Possibilities touches on feelings of grief, but Cardinal says, “It’s also about the joy of life, because with loss you appreciate the people you do have even more.” The title track is a spoken word track in collaboration with Matthew Cardinal (no relation) who created a soundscape to match the dreamlike, spacey vibes Cardinal wanted. “A friend who died by suicide came to visit me in a dream, but it felt like a real visit,” Cardinal says about the inspiration for her song. “We had a difficult relationship, which made her passing even harder, but when she visited me it felt like everything was settled. I haven’t been religious for many, many years, but this opened up my heart to spirituality again. It opened up my mind to the boundless possibilities of what life can be.”

Cardinal shelved what she had written prior to 2020, and instead wrote new songs over the course of three years. The final track, “The Only Way Out,” was actually written first following the death of her son’s father. “It doesn’t always happen, but sometimes I can sit down and write a song from front to back, and that’s exactly what happened with this song. I also recorded it in one sitting on my phone—that’s the version you hear on the album because it’s the only time I’ve been able to sing it all the way through without crying.”

As Cardinal takes her new album on tour this summer, she says audiences can expect lots of humour and storytelling between songs. “I want to tell the stories of where the songs are coming from, to give people context,” Cardinal says. “The thing I love most about performing is the connection that I feel with people who are in the audience. I’m a really empathetic person who wants to give people permission to just feel all the things. There’s a lot of laughter that happens in my performances. It’s important to me that even though I’m singing songs about grief, we’re experiencing joy at the same time. I hope we all let ourselves feel and release, and feel better for it. At the end of the day, I just want to make people feel good.”

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