Meiwa, Diemm, Fear of Drinking, Nina Lynn, and Matt Mays
Gordy the Moose presents some of his favourite new music from the submissions that have arrived in the Roots Music Canada virtual mailbox.
Meiwa – “Wonder” (Release date: June 1, 2018)
Intimate, minimalist, sophisticated. These are just some of the words popping into the moose’s mind as he listens to Meiwa. Boy, does she ever have a beguiling, unadorned, mezzo soprano voice – at least, I think she’s a mezzo soprano. The moose isn’t so good at these things — and the harmonies on this song give it a cool, dreamy feel. The mood of the song reminds me a bit of 90s chill out without the beats … or maybe of modern French chanson … or kd Lang’s “Barefoot” from the soundtrack to Salmonberries. See what you think. The moose is lovin’ it.
Diemm – A Thousand Miracles in a Roomful of Regrets (Release date: Aug. 14, 2018)
On the surface, the components that make up Diemm appear to be the components of your classic new age record: harp; pure, pristine vocals; and spoken word poetry – to say nothing of the promotional image that appears to show Dawna McLennan with wings. But what Dawna is doing here is far more captivating and sophisticated than that stuff they used to sell in the B.C. Ferries gift shop. Dawna files herself in the chamber folk category, and the moose concurs with that categorization. She also sings a lot of otherworldly melodies that sound as if they might’ve been inspired by Indian ragas or Punjabi folk songs. And the spoken word pieces work because Dawna is a truly expressive raconteur. The moose is getting nostalgic for Tofino listening to this.
Fear of Drinking – Live in Zurich (Release date: June 15, 2018)
If you lived in Vancouver in the mid 1990s and frequented venues such as the dearly departed South Hill Candy Shop, chances are, Fear of Drinking was your house band. The duo, formed in 1990 and originally comprised of Kiwi musician Gerard Kerr and Newcastle, U.K. export Tim Readman, played lovely, harmony-rich renditions mostly of traditional numbers from their respective countries — while Tim entertained the crowd with the charm and grace of a soccer hooligan. Tim and Gerard parted ways in 2000, though Fear of Drinking carried on for one more album as a partnership between Tim and a then-unknown young singer from Montreal named Allison Russell, who would go on to make a name for herself in Po Girl and Birds of Chicago. Live in Zurich was recorded in 1999, shortly before Tim and Gerard came off the road together, but it was released to mark the duo’s reunion of sorts. That’s right. The original Fear are back on stage – at least every now and again. Be afraid. Be very afraid. (I’m kidding, of course. Welcome back guys! It’s great to see you back.)
Nina Lynn – 2 a.m. Kinda Night (Release date: July 28, 2018)
What a comforting little security blanket of a record this is. Heather’s threatening to steal this and go listen to it in a bubble bath with a glass of wine. Nina deftly walks the line between jazz and folk on this recording, embodying the warmth and intimacy of folk music and the sultry moods and sophisticated melodies of jazz, along with a hint of Celtic influence on songs like “Old Tomorrow.” She grew up on Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell, and boy does she ever wear those influences on her sleeve. Her lovely unadorned and versatile voice is the centrepiece of the whole collection.
Hear it here: www.ninalynnmusic.com
Matt Mays – Twice Upon a Hell of a Time (Release date: Oct. 19, 2018)
Matt Mays should really think about giving up rock stardom to become a folk singer. Seriously. Who knew he was such a great writer? Who knew he was capable of such vulnerability as a singer? The moose sure didn’t because it’s typically been buried under layers of jagged-sounding electric guitars, rock n’ roll swagger and general loudness. But Matt’s just released a mostly acoustic version of last year’s Once Upon a Hell of a Time, a collection of songs that derives from a difficult five years in Matt’s life, during which he lost a band member to suicide and appears to have gone through a break-up. He called the rock n’ roll collection of these songs “a party record for the brokenhearted,” but you know what? Sometimes you just need to give heartbreak the intimate production values it deserves. Having said that, although Matt describes this record as “stripped down,” it sounds nearly orchestral in places compared to many folk records. It’s a full band album, featuring guitar, piano, and pedal steel and three backing vocalists that give some of the songs a chorus-like feel. Come on, Matt. Come over to the folk side. Things are good over here.
Matt Mays – “Sentimental Sins”