February and The RPM Challenge are now officially over and I’m finally crawling out of the basement from my 28 day musical hibernation. My eyes are slowly readjusting to the glare of my computer screen as I begin one of my favorite parts of RPM season — downloading and listening to the barrage of brilliant new music that came out of our province last month. I usually begin with the albums that are posted first on Bandcamp or Soundcloud simply because they are the easiest to access, but just like an iceberg I’m only seeing a fraction of the whole and I can’t wait to dive in and hear the rest. Meanwhile, I thought I’d ease back into my Track of the Day routine with couple albums that jumped out and grabbed me right away.
First up is Songs for Mal by Caribou Horses, a kind of St. John’s version of Monsters of Folk, consisting of Joanna Barker, Annie McEwen, Rebecca South (the Drows) and Bryan Power (Pilot to Bombardier). Each of these individuals are gifted singer-songwriters in their own right who have come together as a collective to share and support each others work. The add to the “super-group” status, the quartet of songwriters are backed by an incredible line up of musicians including Ariel Sharrat (The Burning Hell) on clarinet, Wyatt Hirschfeld Shibley’s singing saw, Keegan McGregor on mandolin and Mark Bragg’s matchless accordion skills.
Songs for Mal is a collection of tenderly beautiful folk songs penned by a new generation of up and comers who are producing new shoots from some deep roots. Caribou Horses also have the unique feature of having four distinct lyrical and literal voices, each bringing a different element to the table. Being a fan of Joanna, Bryan and Rebecca’s previous work prior to this album, I was intrigued by the two songs penned by Annie McEwen, who I was not familiar with. After repeated listens to Songs for Mal, I have to say that Annie’s track “I’ll Miss You, I’ll Carry You” kept calling me back for more. A heartbreaking ballad with a very unconventional song-structure, several time shifts, Wyatt’s theremin-like bowed saw and a chorus that just slays me every single time. I love this song and therefore it is today’s track.
If you haven’t listened to Songs for Mal by Caribou Horses yet, you really need too. Just click the link below and enjoy.