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First Person

Water’s edge

Family hardships and escaping to a Cape Cod dune shack shaped Wellfleet singer-songwriter Patty Larkin’s new album.

Patty Larkin.

Jana Leon

Patty Larkin.

Yeah, 2009 was not a great year.

By the time my dog died in November, I couldn’t even bring it up to people. [A stroke] was a life-changing event for my sister, and for my mom, she had something like a misdiagnosis and they caught it too late. My mom went through that transition of death and dying extremely bravely. I was able to be there with her a lot and play songs for her.

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Sort of the basis of the album is, when your world changes or your expectation for what the next day is going to be changes radically, what do you pull from to gain strength?

It’s always a revelation to go to the [Cape Cod National Seashore] dune shacks. Over the last four years, my family and I have been out there three separate times for three weeks. It slows you down to the point of reflection. You check your cellphone once a day maybe, because it’s going to run out of juice, because there’s no electricity out there. If it gets dark, you go to sleep pretty much.

You have a really good excuse to be alone with your thoughts and with your art. I wrote three or four songs in the dunes that are on [the album]. I brought an old guitar and just wrote every day with a little hand-held digital recorder. At some point I thought, I need another word besides “sand.”

I’m really happy to have this record out. It’s refreshing to have something new to sing. I’m going to do a fairly reasonable tour. I’m going all the way to Alaska. In February! Apparently you’re extremely popular if you go up there then.   

— As told to Joel Brown. (Interview has been edited and condensed.)

LISTEN Larkin’s album Still Green is out Tuesday. She’ll perform Friday at the Me & Thee Coffeehouse in Marblehead and November 2 at the Beal House in Kingston.

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