Leanne Hoffman

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Leanne Hoffman performs a tightrope walk between the sensual immediacy of pop music and poetry’s revelatory nuance on The Text Collector. Using the swirling melodies and glitzed-up production of Top 40, The Nova Scotia-based multidisciplinary artist builds tension between soundscapes primed for pure pleasure and lyrics that address the interconnected relationship between desire and despair.

By pressing light up against dark until it’s evident they’re just different parts of a multi-faceted whole, Hoffman dismantles illusions of duality on her sophomore record, clearing space to meet her feelings on their own terms instead of forcing them into a box. “Why do things feel so big when they’re empty?,” she sings over pulsing synths on “King Size Bed.” “And why do things feel so small when they’re full?”

A year of sustained and intensive artistic devotion served as the catalyst for The Text Collector. In early 2019, Hoffman set out to write a poem every day for 365 days. The resulting book—also titled The Text Collector—curates a selection of work from that year, providing a deeper dive into the themes she explores on the record, addressing the luminosity and banality of everyday life and the complexity of relationships, reeling between gratitude and frustration. 

When the year was up, Hoffman wasn’t sure what else she might want to do with her words. The project gained momentum via social media, a place notoriously dismissed as not as substantial as the flesh and blood world. And yet, people are frequently baring their souls through these limited channels. “It doesn’t feel real,” Hoffman says, “but they are saying things that are real to them.” It was this perceived contrast between true and false that made her realize the project’s connection to another unfairly chastised art form: pop music. By arranging the genre’s DNA to fit her vulnerable free verse—and vice versa—Hoffman was able to create her own singular take on pop. 

“Some of the songs say things I’ve been looking to say for a long time—I just couldn’t really get there,” Hoffman says. “Having a poem that says it perfectly already means I didn’t have to search for the words. Because when I was writing the poems, I wasn’t thinking about songs. I was thinking, ‘How do I perfectly express this thing that I feel?’”

The Text Collector is a marked departure from her lush 2019 debut What Remains. But, as the process has taught her, Hoffman can’t outrun herself: “Even the bangers end up horribly, not-so-secretly sad,” she says. “King Size Bed” bubbles along joyfully as she confronts the departure of a partner and the massiveness of absence. “Sad” begins in isolation, floating forth with sparse piano and electronic strings before blossoming into an airy, liberated swell and a sea of layered vocals as she confesses she wishes someone would share in the sorrow. Questions, reflections, and relationships drive the album’s momentum. The lustful, simmering glitter of “Sex With You” breaks with the theme briefly, luxuriating in summer sensuality, and the tropical, ‘90s R&B-indebted melancholy of “Pity Party” nearly conceals its kiss-off. And the glowing “Portuguese Tarts”—on which Hoffman just can’t get enough of someone—addresses the double-edged sword of eros. 

Co-produced by award-winning producer Erin Costelo and Hoffman herself, The Text Collector deconstructs poetry and pop music, rebuilding the pieces into a listening experience even richer than the sum of its parts.

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