New music in our mailbox!

New releases from previous moose picks!

Gordy the moose has been catching up on the new music in the Roots Music Canada mailbox this fall, and a bunch of notable items came from artists he’s featured in this column before.  So the moose decided to do a special column devoted to these new projects from past favourites.  Have a listen!

Kristen Martell – “Thoughts of You” video (Release date: Oct. 22, 2020)

Nova Scotia-based Kristin Martell is one of those artists who dabbled in a music career early in life then quit to “get a real job,” only to return years later with the kind of fully mature sound and confident musical identity you typically only hear in someone who’s been at this full-time for years. An environmental scientist by training, her earthy, easygoing style no doubt derives from her youthful practice of using music as a form of mediation. This new video, shot at home, is the perfect vehicle for her intimate sound and is a charming addition to any COVID winter playlist.

Michael Bernard Fitzgerald – Love Valley (Release date: Oct. 9, 2020)

Calgary’s Michael Bernard Fitzgerald dealt with COVID-19-related performance restrictions this summer by booking himself an entire summer of concerts-for-four in his own backyard. When you listen to Michael’s music, it’s not hard to imagine just how idyllic it would be to sit in a sunny garden soaking up the rays with these songs as a soundtrack. Michael has mastered a particular kind of ambient, electronically-enhanced folk sound that transports listeners into reflective little moments. And on this album, it seems a lot of those moments are snapshots of the future he envisions with his partner and his family – hence the title. It’s charming and dreamy and perfect for those days when you want to chill out without feeling melancholy.

Moira Bren – 6 is Green (Release date: Oct. 16, 2020)

I’ve featured several songs by Moira Bren and her duo with her sister, Moira and Claire, so it’s exciting to finally hear Moira’s debut EP, 6 is Green. The title, by the way, references Moira’s experiences with synesthesia, a sensory condition that might, for example, lead a person to associate certain colours with certain sounds. Moira, who I believe is still in university, has a particularly lovely, evocative and, at times, mournful voice, and she’s off to a great start as a songwriter and arranger.

Kim June Johnson – “November Trees” (Release date: Nov. 9, 2020)

Kim June Johnson first caught our attention with her unadorned, understated songs and performances. “November Trees” starts out in that vein but gradually builds toward a fully-orchestrated final chorus featuring string parts by Vancouver Island composer Adrian Dolan.  The song is about anxiety and the grounding of the natural world, according to Kim, a topic that is nothing if not timely for our impending pandemic winter.

Danny Bell and his Disappointments – Songs for the Town (Release date:  Dec. 11, 2020)

Accordion-playing folk-punk singer-songwriter Danny Bell released a debut album two years ago that sounded to me like the second coming of Geoff Berner with its delightfully irreverent jabs at the well-to-do elite. Only Danny’s version of it came with a particular northern, working class, mill-town sensibility. Songs for the Town is appreciably less Bernerish and spends less time taking shots at white Liberal hypocrisy. But it spends more time capturing everyday life in the unglamourous north, with its garbage-strewn sidewalks, its strip-mall shops and restaurants, and its rotting leaves littering the streets in the fall – to say nothing of its beleaguered sound men, its dog-lovers – “The Longest Walks” is a fantastic track – and its bands just tryin’ to book tours. It might be hard for people who have never lived in a northern resource town to understand how all of this adds up to an homage, but when you live miles from the corridors of power in a place dragged down by administrative neglect, there is a cynical camaraderie one develops with one’s hardy fellow travelers. Danny is their artist, and the industry should take note. This album is great by any measure, and it’s a voice we need to hear more of.

Francois Couture – Souvenance (Release date: Dec. 10, 2020)

Francois Couture is one of those guys with a seemingly boundless ability to reproduce musical genres, particularly old-school Celtic and country music. He seems to be more about licensing mood-setting pieces to film, TV, radio, you name it, than becoming a star or breaking new artistic ground in any of the genres he dabbles in – which might explain why he’s still something of an enigma despite his prolific output. But if you’re looking for an album to set a mood, this one is filled with jaunty, mid-tempo mostly Celtic instrumentals that will awaken your nostalgia for wintery small town streets – like the ones we now mostly only see in snow globes. The title, “remembrance” in English, is a fitting one.

“Le Reel de Laval”

Tennyson King – “Garden of Truth” (Release date: Nov. 19, 2020)

Indie folk singer Tennyson hasn’t been featured in this column before but we did publish a piece he wrote about being on tour in Hong Kong and Australia during two life-altering moments in those countries’ histories: the Hong Kong democracy protests and the Australian wildfires. It’s not hard to see how those experiences might’ve influenced this latest song from Tennyson too. “Garden of Truth” is what he calls a post-apocalyptic folk song – and the animated video is rather genius. This may be the first post-apocalyptic folk song I’ve heard, but sadly, I don’t think it will be the last.

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