New songs from old favourites: Minor Empire, Ann Vriend, Kate Weekes & Bob Jensen
Typically Gordy the Moose presents new discoveries in his quasi-monthly column. However, lately we’ve received some new music from some favourite artists in our mailbox, so Gordy is devoting this column to them.
Minor Empire – “Uyuttum Atlari / I Lulled the Horses to Sleep” (Release date: March 7, 2021)
The release of this song by award-winning Turkish-Canadian ensemble Minor Empire dates back to International Women’s Day in early March. It’s a haunting number about a woman mourning the loss of a loved one and searching for lost sisters. Murders of women are an issue in Turkey, vocalist Özgü Özman explained to me back in the winter, in the same way that missing and murdered Indigenous women are a concern here. The song features core band members Özgü on vocals, Ozan Boz on electric guitar and drums, Chris Gartner on bass, Michael Occhipinti on electric guitar, Lina Allemano on trumpet, and Patrick Graham on, in this case, taiko drums. Özgü’s mournful vocals are wrapped in a trippy, atmospheric arrangement that typifies the band’s sound.
AV (Ann Vriend) – “Everybody Matters” (Release date: March 20, 2021)
Edmonton’s Ann has one of the most phenomenal voices out there – like Dolly Parton and Young Aretha Franklin and maybe even a touch of Mariah Carey’s range and elasticity all rolled into one – so she could pretty much sing an economics textbook, and we’d be like, “This is amazing.” Come to think of it, she actually did sing an economics text book on an Australian game show once. In reality, Ann made a name for herself singing country-soul before branching out into retro pop and beats. But on this single, the pendulum swings back just a touch. The song is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement – lyrical hook: “Everybody matters / Just some a little more” – and features nods to funk and gospel. And yeah. It’s great.
Kate Weekes – “Floating Face Down” (Release date: April 14, 2021)
This new song marks Ottawa area artist Kate Weekes’ debut as a banjo player – “a pandemic project,” she explained – and it sounds like such a charming and cheerful song until you learn what it’s about. It was, in fact, inspired by a CBC news story about retrieving suicide victims from the Thames River in London, England. Oh, and the lyrics contain references to Shakespeare’s Macbeth and “Row Row Your Boat.” What can I say? If art is supposed to unsettle you, than this is a brilliant piece of art. On the other hand, before I knew what it was about, I thought it was a lovely old time song. Take your pick.
Bob Jensen and James Keelaghan – “My Skies” (Release date: March 19, 2021)
Bob Jensen has in recent years been best known as a booking agent of some repute for a lot of great acts, including, Juno-winning elder statesman of Canadian folk James Keelaghan. But booking bands doesn’t exactly pay the bills during a pandemic when we’ve all been ordered to stay at home, so Bob decided to return to recording and put out an album of some favourite songs, including the title track to Keelo’s Juno winning 1995 album, My Skies. The great thing about working with the artists you’re planning to record is that there’s no need to scrimp on your supporting cast. Just ask the guy who wrote the song to sing it with you! And that’s what Bob did. In fact, not only can you hear Keelaghan singing on his own song here, you can also hear Emmanuelle LeBlanc of Vishten on here too.