Daniella Cotton

Daniella Cotton

Danielia Cotton

7:30 p.m. Nov. 26, StageOne, 70 Sanford St., Fairfield. $22. (203) 259-1036, fairfieldtheatre.org.


Since Danielia Cotton released her sophomore album, 2008's Rare Child, the New Jersey native/New York resident has experienced plenty of loss and hardship yet managed to retain the thought that she actually lives a pretty decent life. Those dual situations are explored throughout Cotton's new album, the recently completed Good Life/Hard Times.

"It's a strange body of music and it's a deep album," says Cotton with a husky laugh from her New York home. "I had lost people close to me to cancer, my friend's kid hung himself, and I was trying to have children and had several attempts, so that was deep, too; I lost twins very far down the road, and I was on the road at the time. I felt like I didn't want to record something that didn't have meaning."

Although Cotton's DNA might indicate otherwise — she's the daughter of jazz vocalist Wenonah Brooks — the vocalist/guitarist is an A student at the school of rock. Her 2005 debut, Small White Town, was a thunderous example of Cotton's affinity for the kind of smoky, blues-drenched rock that has made a minor star of Grace Potter, and 2008's Rare Child was a logical step forward. Good Life/Hard Times could be the album that gives Cotton the higher profile she deserves.

The thread that connects Small White Town and Good Life/Hard Times is the presence of producer Kevin Salem, a respected artist in his own right; the former Dumptruck guitarist had a brief but potent solo career, highlighted by his brilliant debut, 1994's Soma City. Cotton considers Salem a musical mentor, but she sees their creative relationship as slightly closer to equal on Good Life/Hard Times.

"We gave a little more for each other on this one," says Cotton. "He's truly genius, a very underrated guy, but on this I felt like his respect for my love of rock and my respect for where he saw me, we gave in just the right ways. It just went click-click-click."

Several of Good Life/Hard Times' songs have made their way into Cotton's set although the album won't be out until at least next February; she's currently entertaining label offers and weighing options. Until then, her internal strength is one of her greatest assets; after her late stage miscarriage, she came home, recovered with husband Sam Roberts and ran the New York City Marathon. The album's title is essentially her mantra for day-to-day living.

"No matter what happens, Kevin and I feel really proud," says Cotton. "Kevin lost his mom before we got done mastering; for both of us, it was bam-bam-bam. It's great that you have a place to put that."