Canada is a nation rich in many things — in land, ingenuity and natural resources. And, of course, in music. And the story of music in Canada revolves around the singer-songwriter. Over the years, Canada has brought forth many world-class songwriters - from Joni Mitchell to Leonard Cohen.
In 2012, several Canadian songwriters made their debut or a grand emergence, and made a case to be included as heirs to this musical royalty. Several of them can be found here, in CBC Music's list of the top singer-songwriter albums released in 2012.
1. Cold Specks, I Predict a Graceful Expulsion
It begins simply. "The Mark." An acoustic guitar and a rumble. A voice low and clear. A voice that coaxes you to keep listening. It's the kind of singing that demands you follow — and you'll listen on for the next 35 minutes, through swells and dips, as your guide sings in explosions and whispers. Then it ends, as simply as it began: "We simply greet it and rest/ With my last breath, my soul will slip/ Where the ground is what this blood knows." The 11 songs on the Etobicoke songwriter's debut are deceptively straightforward, but pack a resonance that lasts long.
[PLAYBUTTON] Exclusive stream: Cold Specks performs her album I Predict A Graceful Expulsion live in Vancouver.
2. Bahamas, Barchords
A stalwart in Toronto's indie rock scene, Bahamas, or Afie Jurvanen, has backed up everyone from Feist to Great Lake Swimmers before heading out on his own on 2009's Pink Strat. With his followup, Jurvanen progresses as a singer and a songwriter, and on tracks like "Lost in the Light," makes a case for one of Canada's best songwriters.
PLAYLIST Listen to songs from Barchords
3. Glen Hansard, Rhythm and Repose
There must have been quite a lot of pressure for this album. In his 20 years as a musician, Hansard has been in every form of a band, and all have been successful. He fronts the Irish rock act the Frames and has sung in the movies (The Commitments). He made an acclaimed record with Marketa Irglova as the Swell Season. And that came after the two won an Academy Award for best original song. Through it, he had never made a solo record until Rhythm and Repose. The album shows Hansard letting free, putting his influences on his sleeve and letting his lyrical prowess and unique vocals get to the fore.
[PLAYBUTTON] Listen to songs from Rhythm and Repose.
4. Kathleen Edwards, Voyageur
Even a solo act needs some help some time. And Edwards got it on Voyageur. With Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) at the production helm, Edwards enlisted a cadre of musical talents to appear on her TK album, including Norah Jones, Alfie Jurvanen and the Good Lovlies. All of it combined to make an album that extends Edwards sonically and as a songwriter.
[PLAYBUTTON] Listen to songs from Voyageur.
5. Patrick Watson, Adventures in Your Own Backyard
Adventures in Your Own Backyard may lack the grandeur of previous efforts, and this is the first time in three records that the Montreal songwriter and his band have released a Polaris Prize eligible album that has not seen the short list. However, the power of Patrick Watson's latest album is in the details. From the stunning production, the focus itself — of home, and the revelations therein, is what make this album great.
[PLAYBUTTON] Listen to songs from Adventures in Your Own Backyard.
Video: 'Lost in the Light,' by Bahamas
Glen Hansard on his new album
Video: Patrick Watson live on CBC Music
Kathleen Edwards, in an exclusive studio session
How I write: Cold Specks
How I write: Glen Hansard
on Dec 17, 2012