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- Posted on Jun 18th 2009 10:00AM by Tabassum Siddiqui
Northern Exposure is Spinner Canada's weekly MP3 column highlighting the best in new Canadian music. This week we go daily to feature the finest acts at Toronto's North by Northeast festival (June 17-21).
While it may be an easy shorthand to dub Toronto's Valery Gore a 'piano songstress,' that hardly goes far enough to explain the complexity of her rich sound. It's clear the jazz-trained singer-songwriter borrows from a wide range of influences, broadening her songwriting beyond the often predictable melodies of many of her ivory-plunking contemporaries.
'Shoes of Glass,' the lead track off her second album, 'Avalanche to Wandering Bear,' wastes no time in establishing itself as a veritable head-turner. Its sprightly opening chords pound out over skittering march-like percussion that soon gives way to layered choral harmonies before it ends all too soon with an unexpected, yet utterly lovely, saxophone solo.
If the skillful, jazz-inflected composition wasn't enough, Gore also has a way with words. While "poetic" has become an overused adjective to describe the lovelorn lyrics of many a songwriter, Gore certainly earns the distinction, playing with both rhyme and meter ("When you're gone, it's a thirst so dire/Water for the heart, to put out the fire") to best suit the cadence of her nimble melodies. She knows just how to put her beguiling voice, with its Feist-ian warmth and burr, to best use here. And like Feist, Gore's vocal phrasing is anything but straightforward (which is to say, boringly girly), only adding to the charm.
To sweeten the deal, we're also throwing in a bonus remix of 'Shoes of Glass' courtesy of Do Right! Music, which recently held a remix contest for the single that attracted entries by artists from across the globe.
The winning remix comes from rising young Waterloo, Ontario electro-pop sibling trio Kidstreet, who take the track into unexpected dancefloor territory with giddy handclap beats and retro-sounding synths, undercutting some of the melancholy of the original by drawing out the inherent sweetness of the melody. This imaginative (and truly grin-inducing) reworking showcases Kidstreet's canny production skills while still allowing the best qualities of Gore's work to shine through -- a careful balance not enough remixes often manage to pull off.
Download: Valery Gore, "Shoes of Glass"/"Shoes of Glass" (Kidstreet remix) (MP3)
NXNE set: Valery Gore plays the NOW Magazine showcase at the Reverb on June 19 at 9 p.m. Kidstreet play the YYZ showcase at the Drake Underground on June 19 at 10 pm