Free and legal MP3: Kathryn Calder (New Pornographer goes solo)

Beginning as a pensive bit of Jane Siberry-like abstractness, fueled by little more than an egg shaker and a spare piano line, “Slip Away” unfolds deliberately, but never loses my attention. Despite the minimal instrumentation, the song opens with a strong melody and a prolonged sense of anticipation. It’s two full minutes before the music stretches out a bit and yet I’m with it all the way.

Kathryn Calder

“Slip Away” – Kathryn Calder

Beginning as a pensive bit of Jane Siberry-like abstractness, fueled by little more than an egg shaker and a spare piano line, “Slip Away” unfolds deliberately, but never loses my attention. Despite the minimal instrumentation, the song opens with a strong melody and a prolonged sense of anticipation. It’s two full minutes before the music stretches out a bit and yet I’m with it all the way. I’ve heard plenty of 20-second introductions that lose my interest way more easily.

And then at 2:15, the song really kicks in, and the kicking-in part is at once lyrically incidental–there are no lyrics in it at all, in fact–and musically central, radiating out both forward and backward in time, illuminating both what we’ve already heard and what we are about to hear. What I think we have here is a lyric-free chorus, sung without words, which I’m not sure I’ve heard too often. But what a wonderful, dynamic thing it is, with a melody taking almost yodelly leaps that would surely have defeated any effort to be burdened with language.

Calder is a singer and keyboard player from Vancouver who is best known at this point for being the least known person in the New Pornographers. She also co-fronts the band Immaculate Machine, which has been featured here in April ’09 and May ’07. “Slip Away” is the lead track from her first solo release, Are You My Mother?, coming in August via File Under: Music. MP3 via Spinner.com.

Free and legal MP3: Angela Desveaux (Kathleen Edwards meets Jane Siberry?)

“Sure Enough” – Angela Desveaux

Am I imagining it or does Angela Desveaux here sound like a delightful and rather precise mix between two of my all-time favorite Canadian singer/songwriters, Jane Siberry and Kathleen Edwards? (Yes, Desveaux is Canadian too; it’s Canada week, it seems.) I suppose there’s a chance my mind is being deceived by its own deep-seated personal preferences, but hey, I’m not arguing with it. This is irresistible stuff, to my ears.

The music is bright and clear, the tempo upbeat, but Desveaux has something beautifully bittersweet lodged in her vocal tone, which is probably what conjures Siberry here (though Jane fans should be sure too to check out how Desveaux sings the bridge, in a speak-sing-y sort of way, from 2:46 to 3:00). And while we’re talking about choruses, listen for those wonderful, down-shifting chords at the outset of the chorus, which accompany each return to the same melodic note (on the first syllable of “even,” on “though,” and on “know”). Note too the bittersweet metaphysics at play in the lyrics: “Even though I know I’m not sure where I’m going/But I’m going/I’m sure enough to know/It’ll stay this way forever/Stay this way for everyone.” The title itself in this context is nothing short of a life philosophy: no one can be sure; we can only be sure enough.

Desveaux was born in Montreal, grew up in the Maritimes, later returning to Montreal, which remains her home base. “Sure Enough” is a song from her second album, The Mighty Ship, slated for a September release on Thrill Jockey Records<. (Note that the new album was recorded by Dave Draves, who co-produced Kathleen Edwards' brilliant debut, Failer, with Edwards herself.) MP3 via Thrill Jockey.