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Erika Wennerstrom On World Cafe

Depending on who you are and how your heart is built, you might know this modus operandi well: it's easier to be nice to other people than to yourself. If that's an idea you can relate to, you'll find something in common with Erika Wennerstrom. She says each song on her new album Sweet Unknown is a mantra about being kinder to yourself.

You might recognize Erika's name or her distinct voice when you hear it. She has fronted the rock band Heartless Bastards since they formed in 2005 all the way through the handful of well-loved and well-worn albums, including their latest record, 2015's Restless Ones. That band decided to take a hiatus after that, which drove Erika to do some soul-searching, a subject that dominates the first solo album she decided to put out.

Erika's new album is also influenced by her foray into the Amazon rainforest in Peru. She took part in three ceremonies led by a shaman while fueled by the hallucinogenic Ayahuasca, a psychedelic that has been used by indigenous Amazonians for centuries and is believed by some to open up spiritual awareness and heal mental and physical ailments.

We talk about Erika's trip and give a window into how the singer's experience informed the art she made. The session starts with a taste of the first song on Erika Wennerstrom's new album, "Twisted Highway." Hear that and more in the player.

Copyright 2021 XPN. To see more, visit XPN.

Talia Schlanger hosts World Cafe, which is distributed by NPR and produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. She got her start in broadcasting at the CBC, Canada's national public broadcaster. She hosted CBC Radio 2 Weekend Mornings on radio and was the on-camera host for two seasons of the television series CBC Music: Backstage, as well as several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor. Schlanger also guest hosted various flagship shows on CBC Radio One, including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Schlanger also won a Canadian Screen Award as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip.