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This article was published 20/7/2017 (847 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Why You Wanna Leave, Runaway Queen? (Bonsound)
Released in October 2016, this record was named to the short list last week for the 2017 Polaris Prize — quite a feat, given that it’s the first full-length album from LeBlanc, an Acadian from Rosaireville, N.B., who laughingly describes her music as "trash folk."
Modern folk-rock is probably a more accurate description, as LeBlanc is the kind of artist who grew up steeped in traditional music — she plays Acadian-style banjo, as well as guitar and mandolin — while also listening to modern music, so her own sound is an affecting hybrid of French and English pop and rock and folk. Songs such as Could You Wait ‘Til I’ve Had My Coffee?, Dump the Guy ASAP and the long-distance relationship tune 5748km have drawn comparisons to Courtney Barnett that are certainly fair.
There’s also Acadian folk in Eh cher and Dead Man’s Flats, edgy garage rock in Ti-gar and Neko-Case-ish rock in City Slickers and Country Boys or I Love You, I Don’t Love You, I Don’t Know. To top it off, there’s even a wild, banjo-fuelled cover of Motörhead’s Ace of Spades.
LeBlanc will play the West End Cultural Centre on Sept. 24. Don’t miss her. ★★★★
Stream these: Could You Wait ‘Til I’ve Had My Coffee?; I Love You, I Don’t Love You, I Don’t Know; Ace of Spades
— John Kendle
Album: Hierarchy of Crows (Wilburn Records)
Who would have thought that Trenton, N.J., would produce a truly authentic, country music singer-songwriter?
With his fifth album, Moot Davis, along with this intuitively tight band, has created yet another set of self-penned songs that may not be ready to blast a hole in the contemporary country music charts, but are definitely manna for those who like their roots music a little left of centre and edgy. Some critics have compared Davis to cats like Dwight Yoakam but there is less lustre on Hierarchy Of Crows (HOC) than your standard-issue Dwight release. The opening two tracks (Here Comes the Destroyer and Quite as Well as You Lie) both contain a kind of murder-ballad twist without relying on any dirge-like arrangements. Each of these tracks talks about having hands around necks or throats and it makes you wonder what Mr. Davis dreams about at night.
Shot Down In Flames is a soulful rocker that reels in some sassy backup singers to get its mid-tempo, riff and groove sounding completely accurate. The trio of pedal steel guitar-infused tracks (What’s The Matter With Me, You’re Gonna Win (I’m Gonna Cry) and Rockin’ Rollin’) twang out some super solid honky-tonk flair — and woven as they are between the rockers and ballads, makes this album easy to rely on for repeated plays. The killer closing kicker, Hemophiliac of Love, not only leaves a lot of energy in the room, its title must be eligible to win some kind of award for originality.
Trash, twang and thunder…it’s all here. ★★★★
ignore that... just saw it attached
Stream these: Nighttime In Big Whiskey; You’re Gonna Win (I’m Gonna Cry)
— Jeff Monk
Orchestre National de Jazz de Montréal & Christine Jensen
Under the Influence Suite (JTR8597)
Saxophonist and composer Christine Jensen was recently given a commission from the Orchestre National de Jazz de Montréal (ONJ) to compose a suite, and this album is the result. She added the vocals of Sienna Dahlen and, with the power of the ONJ, chose to reference and pay tribute to composers who have influenced her and, in fact, many of the ONJ members as well.
The suite has tracks named for Canadian-born trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, the iconic John Coltrane, Lee Konitz, Wayne Shorter, and Polish-Canadian pianist and composer Jan Jarczk (who taught Jensen and many ONJ members at McGill); she hopes for "a fragment of their character" in every piece.
Jensen is showing increasing maturity and confidence in her compositions, and the result is a fine example of contemporary large ensemble writing. The solos are spectacular, including Jensen’s on For Jan Jarcyk and the two tenors on the Wayne Shorter tribute tracks.
There are wonderful jazz orchestra leaders and composers in the contemporary jazz world; Christine Jensen and this album can fully take a place with the best of them.
From driving and powerful moments to lush melody, this is simply a great album for anyone who appreciates the "big" sounds along with the style of small group jazz.
★★★★1/2 out of five
Stream: Starbright (for Kenny Wheeler), Anthem/Chant (for Wayne Shorter)
— Keith Black
Bach: French Suites (Decca)
While some artists might well deservedly be resting on their laurels as they enter their ninth decade, legendary Russian pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy has chosen instead to release a new album on his label of more than 50 years, Decca.
His latest offering, which marks his 80th birthday this month, features the complete set of J. S. Bach’s French Suites, as the next in his critically acclaimed (and ongoing) series of keyboard works by the baroque master.
Composed between 1722 and 1725, the six stylized dance suites written (mostly) in the "French manner" showcase Ashkenazy’s sublime pianism, including filigree counterpoint, delicate ornamentation, thoughtful voicing and ebullient dotted dance rhythms. His interpretation of Suite No. 3 in B minor, including lightly fingered Menuets I and II, followed by a spirited Gavotte, is a compelling highlight, as is Suite No. 6 in E major, featuring a stately Sarabande, and simply executed Menuet and Polonaise.
But the internationally renowned soloist/conductor is at his exuberant best during that same work’s crisp finale Gigue, with its joyous optimism seeming to herald his next glorious decade of music making.
★★★★1/2 out of five
— Holly Harris