Reviewed: Trent Severn, Nancy Dutra & Jory Nash
We have received our share of CDs for review of late, and are grateful for all of them. Time, however, only allows us to review a few at a time, and in this case, I will share three short reviews in this one post.
Trent Severn is a delightful new trio of established and thoroughly professional Canadian singer/songwriters Danya Manning, Emm Gryner and Laura C. Bates. They call themselves “a Canadiana band whose songs are fueled by the folklore of Ontario; whose lyrics pay tribute to Canadian legends.” Their self-titled debut CD features ten short tracks with titles like Mulroney Times, Muskoka Bound and Bluenose on a Dime. I love that they included a self-addressed postcard seeking listeners’ Canadian stories toward their next projects. Part of their band manifesto is to sound on stage as they sound on record, which means the listener is treated to fiddle, banjo, guitar, box and bass supporting the main ingredient: three superbly blended voices. More Crosby, Stills and Nash than Andrews Sisters (especially the tremendous opening track, Snowy Soul), Trent Severn has the potential to be a standing-ovation, crowd-pleasing staple at folk festivals for as long it chooses to be.
Nancy Dutra: Time Will Tell. Nancy Dutra’s name is familiar to anyone who’s been paying attention to the Toronto folk/ alt country scene for the past six or seven years. A question she must have grown very tired of answering was: when are you going to release a CD? Well, it’s finally here, and not surprisingly, it’s a beauty. The special guest list on Time Will Tell is impressive: Ron Sexmith, Justin Rutledge, Suzie Vinnick, Kevin Welch, Old Man Luedecke, Jason Wilber, Drew Jurecka and many other fine players, but we’ve all experienced records with great names and mediocre results. What makes this record are very simply Nancy Dutra’s Tennessee whiskey voice, and her outstanding songwriting. Her songs are accessible, warm, often rather sad (Tears Would Fall; I Cry; Weak, Weary and Worn; Sorrow Bound; Nowhere Left to Fall) but there is also humour and even a train song on the record. Nancy has put her best boot forward with Time Will Tell, and indeed, time will tell where she goes from here. Let’s hope it’s Austin.
Jory Nash: Little Pilgrim. When I listen to Little Pilgrim, Jory Nash’s seventh (very) full-length CD, I think of those classic folk-pop songs of the 1970s, written by Boz Scaggs, Jackson Browne, Paul Simon, Jim Croce, and James Taylor. Each and every one of Little Pilgrim’s fifteen tracks stands firmly on its own two feet as a whole creation, its own hit. It reminds me of something once said by the late brilliant writer Paul Quarrington during a piece we filmed in 2009 for this website. Upon receiving a compliment on his songwriting from the legendary Andy Kim, he responded by reaching out his hand toward an imaginary car-radio, and said to Andy, “yeah, but your songs like Sugar Sugar make me wanna turn up the volume, you know?”
These songs have that effect on this reviewer; after the obligatory three full listens, I found myself wanting to turn every song up, except I was already at max. Like Nancy Dutra, Jory employed some heavy talent on this record, including his trusty guitar sidekick Jason Fowler, Michael Johnston, and his co-producer, Chris Stringer, as well as backing vocalists (among others) Amanda Walther (Dala) and Lori Cullen. This might also be the slickest sounding record I’ve heard this year from our Canadian folk/roots community, and flat out, one of the finest discs of 2012.