Ever notice that after the morning coffee and the emails, it sometimes still takes a good piece of music to actually wake you up? Weaving through the day, I will find myself with that sudden deep luxurious wave rolling in my throat that a good song provides – at the curve the bow takes against the fiddle – at the way that song-lady intends some serious and gracious word or thought to be taken.
Here are a few such memorable moments from my past year.
Philosophy Majors and Colonels of Truth:
Jon Brooks and Romina Di Gasbarro impinged upon our contentment spans on their albums No One Travels Alone and Risorgimento. Dancing to a different tabla player, Brooks wades in on the weighty topic of how to re-establish the truth. Fusing folk and rap, the record has features reminiscent of its great grandfather, Bringing It All Back Home, yet the musicians involved ornately insulate the barbed wires of the lyrical content. Romina swirls sweet melodies into her songs of liberty, history and faith. Although her record grows through progressive rock outcroppings, the music stays rooted in traditional Italian acoustic instrumentation and dance. Rollover Madonna and tell Kate Bush the news.
Intrinsic Instrumental Intimacy:
La Suite and Dan MacDonald. Personalized maps of intellect and empathy overlay the correspondence between players of acoustic instruments. The level of confidential interplay illuminated within Inventions Pour Deux Violineux by the violin duet of La Suite is magnified by their use of stereo to separate the two musicians. Apparently, by playing barefoot, their organic connection becomes enhanced, but the sweetness of this music is imbued with a grace beyond the physical. Dan MacDonald addressed the current state of the fiddle with his Rural / Urban album and took to the skies for an overview of his past fifteen years of musical explorations, receiving a CFMA nomination for Instrumental Solo Artist of the Year to boot.
Winnipeg’s Madeleine Roger and Montreal’s Corey Gulkin made the lyrical inroads into their personal emo-systems sound both significant and magnificent. Roger’s Cottonwood is a flawless pastoral portrait of doubts and affirmations that carries emotion and restraint in equal amounts. Decorated with the warm sounds of tightly woven acoustic tapestries, it holds a sonic buoyancy that promises classic longevity. Gulkin’s All The Things I’ll Forget is an enchanted poetic midnight of loneliness and reverie. A major achievement in composition, overlooked, perhaps because of its release early in the year, it utilizes Leah Dolgoy’s harp, strategic percussion and orchestration, and electronic surges to create a unique bubble of quietly epic musicality.
Other essential energies have also emerged from Qristina Bachand, Tragedy Ann, Doug Paisley, and everyone that I have written about in Roots Music Canada this past year. Lest I go on and on, I wish everyone a memorable new year in which to hopefully spend more time listening to music such as this, music that affects you in strange or enriching ways.