Becca Mancari talks new album Left Hand ahead of Truman show Sept. 12
Good songwriters are good storytellers. They have a way of transporting you to the moment they’re writing about and hitting you right in the feels. Whether it’s how they describe the angst of feeling rejected, how the smell of perfume brings back the fondest memories, or facing their biggest fears head-on, there’s no denying there’s an art to it. Nashville-based queer indie artist Becca Mancari is a storyteller. Their lyrics give room for listeners to journey with them, as they ask hard questions of themselves and the world around them. Their use of imagery allows listeners’ imaginations to run wild. Their vulnerability allows listeners to not only feel seen but heard too.
Mancari is no stranger to the folk music scene. In 2017, they were a part of the trio Bermuda Triangle featuring Brittany Howard of The Alabama Shakes. Later that year, they made their solo debut with their first album, Good Woman. In 2020, they released their sophomore album, The Greatest Part, a mix of acoustic folk and electronic pop. Their latest release, Left Hand, is soulful and playful with hints of R&B, reflective of the freedom they express in the album. They’ll be opening for Joy Oladokun on their “Living Proof” tour, which will be coming to the Truman on Tuesday, September 12.
We recently chatted with them about their writing process, personal growth, and being back on the road again.
The Pitch: Left Hand has been out in the world for a bit now. How does it feel to know so many people are resonating with it?
Mancari: It’s amazing. After quietly working on something so hard for so long, when it’s finally in the world, and people are saying how much they love it, it’s pretty astounding. It’s been a really great response.
The sound of this project definitely differs from your first release, Good Woman. In what ways is that reflective of your personal growth?
So many! I literally hadn’t been to therapy until I made this record. I definitely grew from the end of the pandemic into 2021-2022. Those years were really spent learning to look at music as a practice. It was a huge leap for me.
What song stretched you the most as a songwriter?
I really feel like “Don’t Even Worry” really stretched me as a melodic songwriter. That’s the song I co-wrote with Brittany Howard. She sent me this very short demo of music only. She put in some weird chord progressions and structures, so I really had to be creative with that song melodically. When she came to sing on the parts that I wrote she said, “These are some really weird parts, man.” I think two artists working together always creates growth and difficulty but in a very positive way because you have to wrap your brain around their brain and that’s a pretty beautiful thing to do.
The title track, “Left Hand,” invites listeners into your inner monologue. What was writing that like?
Well, with that song, in particular, I used the demo vocals. I recorded that in GarageBand on a little 58 mic, and I really go back and edit myself. I had been so upset that day. There had been another school shooting, and I just remember being so overwhelmed by the loneliness of our culture, the sadness, mental health, and violence. I just let people in on my stream of consciousness.
What advice would you give to artists wanting to be as vulnerable as you were on that song?
It’s definitely scary. I would say be emotionally prepared for the outcome of people actually listening to it. They might judge you. I say, “I’m so tired of what people think about me, hearing about that” in the song because it’s something I’ve struggled with in my life. I would say getting past worrying about what people think is where you get freedom. That’s where your creative brain allows you to go deeper. That’s the goal of art: to go deeper into the human experience. It’s communal instead of isolating. That’s what I got from this song. I didn’t feel like I isolated myself anymore. I actually allowed people in.
The voice memo of your grandfather on Homesick Honeybee is really sweet. In what ways is your relationship with him reflected in the song?
Yeah, he’s so funny and such a character. He’s one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. My relationship with him is so healing because he’s the first elder in my family to really accept me, love me, talk about my sexuality, and see myself and my partner as equally important. It’s not about anything other than love. How powerful can that be from someone who is almost 100 years old?
This project featured a lot of collaborations. What did it teach you about the power of community when it comes to creating art?
I’m so lucky to live in a city where there are so many incredible artists. Nashville is small enough that we can connect in a really powerful way. For instance, my friend Julie recorded some of her vocals at her home studio. That’s something that I feel like I don’t want to take for granted. In the indie world, we all know how hard this job is, and we want to be able to help each other. It’s really about creating something in the moment. It’s really special.
What do you hope listeners learn about you through this project?
I hope that they learn I’m here to stay. I want them to know that queer people can be honest about their struggles and how hard it can be. Now, I get to live in a way that’s different than before. I get to live a fulfilled life. I want them to feel hopeful. I want them to feel me embrace all sides of life and encourage them to do the same.
You’ll be headed on tour with Joy Oladokun soon. What are you looking forward to most about touring with them and being back on the road after so long?
What a powerful lineup. I think that’s going to be so amazing. Two queer nonbinary people of color. I just think we get to celebrate that every night.
Becca Mancari will join Joy Oladokun at the Truman on Tuesday, September 12. You can purchase tickets here.