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EP review: Gillian Hay – Magnolia Baby

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Possessed of an elastic voice, formidable songwriting chops and a command of several genres, including country, soul and punk rock, Toronto’s Gillian Hay makes quite an impression with her debut EP, Magnolia Baby, the follow-up to just a couple of singles released since 2018.

It opens with “Dancing Shoes,” an absolutely killer mixture of folk-pop and soul with Motown-style choruses and “Shoo-bop-bops.”

Much of the rest of the collection has a country-pop feel – with the Motown nods returning on the closer “Things are Going to Get Better.”

“Baby Boy” is the one departure, with its fast drums and fuzzy guitars, though Gillian is much too good a singer to really embody punk’s rawness (and that’s not a bad thing).

Gillian cites Lucinda Williams, Taylor Swift and the Chicks as her influences, and there’s no mistaking she’s been studying her idols closely.

This is an auspicious debut from an exciting new talent.

Catch her EP launch live in Toronto April 26 at the Painted Lady.

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