A Lovely Review from Grayowl Point in Toronto
As I come across more and more folk musicians from all corners of Canada, I find myself surprised each and every time. Alanna Gurr is the latest one of these surprises; I found myself absolutely blown away on my first listen of Oh, Horsefeathers, her debut album.
At first I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was that drew me to her music, but a few listens later I realized that it’s a combination of her extremely expressive voice and her heartbreakingly honest lyrics.
As with many folk musicians, Gurr successfully uses minimal instruments, providing just the right backing to her versatile vocal range. In a lot of ways, Gurr reminds me of Kate Maki. Both make use of simple instruments and blow their listeners away with their great voice.
Lyrically, Gurr touches on love in several different ways, like the pain of heartbreak and the anticipation of going out on a date. There’s even a song about marriage (Gurr sings about how it could be a big mistake). It’s not as if the subjects have never been written about, but again it’s Gurr’s honesty that makes the songs so compelling.
Musically, as mentioned earlier, Gurr employs simple instruments. Most prevalent is the electric guitar and acoustic guitar, and it’s occasionally supported by gentle drums and the banjo makes an appearance in a song or two. The simple guitar works well in songs like “So Hard” which only intensifies the sadness personified in it. She also harmonizes frequently with bandmate Gord Auld for great effect.
Her work is not all melancholy. The song “October” for instance features a steady thumping of foot pedal to give the song a more upbeat and optimistic feel. And the album’s ending song “Take the Streets” is positively uplifting; it almost sounds like a singalong when Gurr gets to the chorus making for a spectacular end.
Gurr’s quiet confidence will no doubt appeal to folk fans of all stripes. Oh, Horsefeathers is a calm but powerful album that really possesses that special “something.” Get it via Bandcamp.
Top Tracks: “Little One”; “Come Home”; “Take the Streets”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) +*swoop*