Musical wunderkind of great Canadian group “Metric” as well as an important part of supergroup “Broken Social Scene”, Emily Haines also has a career singing her own songs under the name “Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton”. Soft spoken and piano-based, this is stuff that´s both high-quality and with a deeply original voice. Although what I like the most about Emily Haines is her melodic quirkiness and musical prowess, it´s difficult not to be affected by the cover picture of the artist in glowing blue dress holding a black baseball bat with orange rubber gloves. Empowerment, musical competence and attitude as well as a play on her obvious physical beauty is very much a part of her allure. However, nothing of this can reduce the punch of her original songs.
Please check her out and be prepared to be blown away. What is considered to be the fringes holds so many great things.
Let´s continue in Canada with a record that absolutely floored me in it´s year of release 2007. Although singer, musician and songwriter Leslie Feist is one of many talented people connected with Canadian band Broken Social Scene, it´s her solo work that impresses the most. First two albums “Monarch (Lay your jeweled head down)” and “Let it die” showed promise but wasn´t anything that really gripped me. All that changed with the 2007 release of “The Reminder”, one of those rare albums doing almost everything right.
Recorded in Europe with several of her long time collaborators this collection of songs highlights a rare talent on top of her game. “The Reminder” goes places not often visited when it comes to songwriting, arrangements and the sheer joy of singing. Seven years on this album still knocks the breath out of me by its seemingly effortless achievement and sense of audacity. You´re not getting this level of musicality and frankly magnificent singing anywhere else.
Lovely opener “So sorry” is such a great example of this, with sparse but emotional vocals accompanied by acoustic bass and guitar. Guaranteed goose bumps for everyone. The intricate arrangements of “I feel it all” only augments the power of this wonderful song, with peerless soulful singing touching every heart. “My moon my man” gives us the sound of a Nina Simone born in the 00´s, while “The Park” is a moving minimalistic tale of longing. “The water” goes into modernized Billie Holiday territory, with sublime imagery and a vocal tour de force.
Every great album has a greatest track and “The limit to your love” is this one´s. Atmospheric, well arranged and with a stratospheric vocal performance of a wonderful lyric. I´ll never ever tire of listening to this song, which touches both heart and mind in a way that very few songs has managed to. How someone can sing like this is beyond me.
The commercial appeal of “1234” helps to effectively finish the album with its combination of pop and soul gospel. An unexpected sleeper hit ushered along by Apple´s commercials for the iPod nano. It´s not that common to be able to combine commercial appeal with real artistry.