Throughout one of America’s darkest times when hatred is not only being revealed but celebrated, artists are tasked to prevail as the freedom fighters to resist and actuate cultural healing. Megan Keely, a San Francisco-based songwriter and vocalist out on the frontlines fighting for immigration and women’s rights, transforms personal calamity into transcendent growth on her latest studio album, Bloom (Release Date: May 25, 2018). A supportive affirmation of the #MeToo movement, Bloom is Keely’s contribution to the national fight against abuses of power. Keely turns fear and uncertainty into unflinching beauty and empowerment with her new collection of original songs. Read Billboard Magazine's premier of Bloom's lead single “Stronger” here.
Recorded in Santa Monica, Calif. with multi-instrumentalist Gabe Witcher (Punch Brothers), guitarist Steve Wyreman (Jay Z), bassist Jen Condos (Ray LaMontagne), drummer Jay Bellerose (Robert Plant), and her brother guitarist Brandon Keely, Bloom embodies elegantly crafted acoustic arrangements enwrapping Keely’s refreshing pop-inflected vocals. A call for change in how our current political climate forgoes insurmountable contributions of immigrants and an embrace of the traumas caused by the exploitation of women, Keely’s latest compositions show an adeptness of scribing picturesque narratives of hope. Bloom is a collection of the life lessons of a Filipino-American woman confronting today’s tumultuous times.
Bloom opens with “Define American,” an ode to Dreamers written in a moment of paralysis and heartbreak when Keely first heard the President’s initiative to rescind DACA. With her mother immigrating from the Philippines to the United States in 1960 at the age of 3, America’s immigration policy offered her family a path towards a better future. In a hotel room in Montana watching the news when the President made his announcement, the TV went on mute, and Keely urgently penned “Define American.” The nonprofit media and culture organization Define American has published an essay by Keely at Define American.
The #MeToo movement is a pivotal moment opening dialogue on the fact that more than 80% of women have been sexually harassed or assaulted. Bloom’s lead single “Stronger” is an anthem to those who feel the pain of abuse inflicted on their lives and sense of themselves. Composed after an exhilarating day in the rain at the 2017 Women’s March, “Stronger” sets forth that humanity is capable of unprecedented feats with our newly founded connectedness and collective momentum.
“As a culture, we’re going through a growth spurt with #MeToo enabling a surge of deep reflection,” says Megan Keely. “This is just the beginning of some major and necessary healing. There’s pain in the healing, and that process is only making us stronger.”
In summer 2016 after a magical seaside wedding, Keely wrote “Love Will Find You.” As the lyric goes, it’ll find you “when you are ready to fall, when you’re ready to give it your all.” With self-trust and patience, one can create the life and love one wants and needs. For the mere cover on the album, Keely sings a duet rendition of the traditional Spanish folk song “De Colores” whose history is steeped in the farm workers movement and labor protests. The soothing lullaby offers a bit of healing for the album’s listeners.
“Marcia Montgomery” is a nod to the incredible strength of Keely’s grandmother, an integral figure in her life before her passing. In life, there can be such self-doubt that you look to others to boost yourself up. “Marcia Montgomery” – Montgomery being her grandmother’s middle name as well as other women in the Keely family’s middle name – is a statement to look within for everlasting self-pride.
“San Gregorio” is inspired by family traditions, and for the Keely family, the town of San Gregorio became an annual sojourn on the rugged Northern California coast. A sonic letter to her family and family-friends, she thanks them for the great memories and it marks healthy change and a bright future ahead. “We Will Be Fine” is a self-soothing closure to Bloom, a sense that even when it seems the world is tumbling down, at least we are putting good out into the world for positive change.
No stranger to Hollywood, Keely’s collaboration with T Bone Burnett resulted in her and her brother’s song “Rules” landing on The Hunger Games companion soundtrack featuring Jayme Dee on vocals. Keely’s song “Dream It Now” also provided the soundtrack for the promotion of director Davis Guggenheim’s (Inconvenient Truth) documentary film, The Dream Is Now. Growing up in a musical family with her father the guitarist of the psychedelic rock band Flying Other Brothers, Keely began gigging as she worked as a landscape designer in San Francisco following her graduation from Cornell University. Bloom is her fourth album of original material, and over the course of her career, Keely’s opened for Sarah Jarosz, Jolie Holland, Jake Shimabukuro, Nicki Bluhm, Sean Hayes, and others. Megan is also one third of the all-female folk trio Glittersnatch, featuring harmony-centric ballads with Wolf Larsen and Kelly McFarling.