Amanda Jean, Mary Beth Carty, Mike Tod and Dee Hernandez
The moose is back! As some of you know, our virtual mailbox blew up last fall, just as the moose was getting back from his summer holidays. Not only did it swallow all our new music, it also destroyed everything that was sent to us all year. But we got a new mailbox up and running at the end of last year, and fortunately, you’ve been sending us new music again. So here’s the moose to let you know what his favourite arrivals have been so far.
Amanda Jean – Amanda Jean (Release date: Feb. 4, 2023)
There’s a comment under one of Amanda’s songs on YouTube that reads, “Usually not too impressed with new music these days. But there’s some real soul to her sound. I’ll be searching for more!” That pretty much sums up my impression too. Amanda, according to the bio on her website, grew up in a musical family in Saskatchewan and has been making music since she was a child, eventually moving to Vancouver to study audio engineering. This self-titled album is her debut, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to it. This girl’s got a sound, and it’s an interesting mix of contemporary folk and atmospheric indie pop with flourishes of pedal steel. I too will be waiting eagerly for more.
Mary Beth Carty – Crossing the Causeway (Release date: Nov. 25, 2022)
My buddy Bob Mersereau over at the Top 100 Canadian blog has referred to Mary Beth as “the Swiss Army Knife of the East Coast, playing accordion, guitar, bass, bones, and multiple percussion instruments.” But for my money, her finest attribute is her voice. It has a gentle and understated quality, a little like her fellow Nova Scotian Mary Jane Lamond, and yet it dances through the sometimes-complex melodies and Gaelic lyrics of many of these songs seemingly effortlessly – while at times showcasing a gorgeous resonance. This new album, Mary Beth’s sophomore release, is a tremendously varied mixture of original and traditional songs and tunes, with three sung in Gaelic, two in French and one in Mi’kmaq vocables. All are performed with her first-rate band: Mac Morin (Beolach, Natalie MacMaster), Howie MacDonald (The Rankins), and Colin Grant (Coïg, Sprag Session). Guest vocalists include Cassie and Maggie.
Mike Tod – “The Blackest Crow” (Release date: Jan. 19, 2023)
Some people will already know Mike Tod from his podcast The Folk. Some might recall his duo Godfrey and Tod. Well now he’s releasing his debut album, and if this song and video are any indication, it’s going to be a good one. Part of Mike’s goal as an artist is to reinterpret old-time songs through a cinematic lens, and he certainly achieves that here. Told through exchanges between two lovers living apart, the song is a couple’s promise to always be true to one another.
“The Blackest Crow,” Mike explained in a news release, dates back to the broadside pamphlets – think early tabloids – of 1700s Scotland and England.
“These pamphlets would have been given out or sold to workers like sheep herders, horse handlers, and milkmaids who would post the lyrics on the walls of dairies, stables, and barns to learn and pass time as they worked,” Mike said.
Dee Hernandez – “Crazy Love” (Release date: Dec. 13, 2022)
How had I not heard of Dee Hernandez before? This Cuban-Canadian singer of nueva trova is based in St. John, NB, and her take on the contemporary folk music of Cuba is divine. “Trova” was acoustic music performed by itinerant musicians known as trovadores, from which we presumably get the word “troubadour,” and nueva trova is its contemporary and often more political cousin. Dee began singing it as a child in Cuba and was enrolled in the Alejandro García Caturla, a music conservatory in Havana, on the recommendation of Pancho Amat. At 14, she became the lead singer of a big band, and by adulthood was touring internationally, which led her to settle in Toronto in 2000. I can’t wait to hear more from her.