Nashville Songwriter Leah Nobel interviewed 100 people from around the globe, boiled their stories to the essence and captured them on the 10 songs that comprise her album, ‘Running In Borrowed Shoes,’ due Feb. 8, 2019. Just like you’d imagine from the title, Nobel doesn’t just walk in others’ shoes — she runs with a sweeping and emotional set of story songs bridled with empathy and connect our universal threads of humanity.
“‘Running in Borrowed Shoes’ is a way for me to describe the act of being a vessel for other people’s stories — it’s my least personal music ever because there’s almost nothing of me in these songs,” says Nobel. “It felt like running more than walking because i was covering more ground.”
Nobel interviewed 100 people over three years to gather the stories she adapted for the songs on ‘Running In Borrowed Shoes.’ She stopped passer-byers at her local YMCA, chatted with strangers at her local coffee shop, reached out to people all over the world and connected with incredibly diverse communities — veterans, disabled people, a sex trafficking victim, nursing home residents, teens and more. She combined the intimate and vulnerable aspects of the lives of these individuals who volunteered information, stories, praises, concerns, and countless emotions and all-too-relatable experience to shape her songs.
The record itself connects the universal threads of humanity. The songs aren’t only Nobel’s stories or the stories of the volunteers; they are the stories of friends, family, you and me — exposing the reality that we as humans are a lot more similar than we think.
Nobel enlisted Grammy award-winning engineer/producer Pete Stewart (Mackelore & Ryan Lewis) on this record. Over the course of two months, Nobel and Stewart recorded it the same way the stories were compiled — with just two people. Every instrument was either computer generated or played by Nobel and Stewart, which fit the intimate nature of the album.
The album begins with the most common perception among the volunteers in a song called “Good Enough,” which encompasses the fear that individuals do not feel adequate and socially acceptable. “Truly Known” shares the stories of people’s desire to be seen, heard, loved and appreciated, and “Messy Kitchen” is a reminder that success is a moving target and perfection does not exist.
Love is explored in “Slow Burn,” an anthem for a type of honest, slow moving love that we rarely see championed, while “Loved You First” is a testament of a mother’s love and undeniable bond. Diversity is another key component for the record. “Steps” is an often untold perspective of a refugee, while “Strawberry Fields” is a song that champions music as a unifier, combining the stories of an African American woman who was once a roommate to Rosa Parks with the perspective of a white, agriculture executive.
Nobel found that human resilience is a beautiful thing. She anchors the record with “This Pain Will Be Useful” — a testament to reality that everyone has been through something devastating and convicting. Both women and men expressed struggles with body image, not feeling good enough, work/family balance, guilt and polarizing emotions related to jobs, relationships and society.
Nobel began playing music at an early age in Flagstaff, AZ, and she spent her first post-college years in performing Austin, TX. She signed to Big Yellow Dog Music as a writer, and in 2016, created her pop alter ego HAEL as a way to experiment with a more “beat-centric” electronic sound. Since then, her songs have been featured in multiple commercials — Apple iPhone X, Toyota, Valspar Paint, and DSW — and television shows like Grey’s Anatomy and ABC’s Nashville. For more on the dynamic artist, visit leahnobel.com.