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Blue Lobelia, Erica Dee Mah, the Hypochondriacs, Art Napoleon and Tim Isberg

Blue Lobelia – “Sometimes I Go” (Release date: Jan. 17)

If you like the kind of folk-classical crossover work of artists such as Plumes, you’ll love this new song from Blue Lobelia, a.k.a. Halifax artist Rachel Bruch, whose full-length debut in 2019 was named the best album of the year by the Coast. Rachel’s pure, unadorned soprano sails above lush arrangements of violins and cello creating a moody, ethereal, and arty interpretation of the song, whose structure could be described as more meandering than hooky. Rachel is releasing her new album later this year. I can’t wait to hear it.

Erica Dee Mah – The Sargasso Season (Release date: Feb. 1)

Add Erica Mah to the list of world class musical talents and innovators to come out of Smithers, B.C. – you know, the same place that produced Alex Cuba, Emilyn Stam, Jaren Freeman Fox, Jenny Lester and Dan Mangan. Erica is a singer-songwriter who these days lives in Whitehorse, YT, and this new project of hers is a departure from anything she’s done previously. It features contemporary original folk songs composed on the guzheng, the traditional Chinese zither. But Erica is not trained in Chinese classical music, and this is not traditional Chinese music of any kind. Rather, the pairing of guzheng and cello with Erica’s plaintive and sometimes layered vocals creates a stirring chamber folk sound, with the woody character and vibrato of the guzheng lending just a hint of Asian flavouring.

The Hypochondriacs – Waitin’ (Release date: April 29, 2022)

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a band called the Hypchondriacs, but timid and fearful this isn’t. Anything but, in fact. This six-piece New Brunswick outfit merges country and rockabilly into a collection of relentlessly catchy numbers marked by vintage production values and fabulous harmonies. The middle track, “Chunky Dunk,” is a blistering guitar-driven instrumental. “Highway #2” is a haunting country noir road movie/break-up song, and “Gospel,” the album’s closer, is a horn-accented lament by a prodigal lover. These guys won Emerging Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, SOCAN Sound of the Year, and Country Artist of the Year from Music New Brunswick in 2017. They’re much too good to not be better known outside the province.

See them live:

  • May 5-8 – East Coast Music Awards
  • May 11 – Folk Alliance Online Concert
  • June 24 – The Seahorse Tavern, Halifax, NS
  • June 25 – Evergreen Theatre, Margaretsville, NS

Art Napoleon – “Avalene” (Release date: Nov. 26)

I’ve been loving Art Napoleon’s work for more than 20 years now – his catchy folk rock, his hilarious stories on stage, his Creeland Covers album, which features renditions of songs by Marley, Dylan, Petty and others all sung in Cree. So I’m always excited to see new music from this musician, author, TV show host, and one-time chief of the Saulteau First Nation. Art’s voice is sounding stronger than ever on this song about the kind of relationship where one party is the “spark” to the other’s “propane.”

Tim Isberg – “Home” (Release date: Nov. 11)

Tim sent this song to us for Remembrance Day last year, and we liked it so much it just barely missed the moose’s best-of-the-year list, but we can’t imagine a better time to showcase it now. Tim is an armed forces veteran who served in Afghanistan and Rwanda, and this is a sentimental number inspired by those times about leaving home and returning home again – while also acknowledging those who don’t. At a time when thousands upon thousands will never return home – something I think we can all agree is a tragedy no matter who they fought for, given how many are unwilling conscripts – this song just seems more poignant than ever.

See him live:

  • March 25 – Weaselhead Concerts, Calgary

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