Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Jun 15th 2010 4:30PM by Tabassum Siddiqui
Northern Exposure is Spinner's MP3 column highlighting the best in new Canadian music. This week we feature some of the finest acts at Toronto's NXNE festival (June 14-20).
While independent label Do Right! has been offering up jazzy grooves for the better part of a decade, the Toronto imprint keeps things fresh by constantly introducing listeners to new artists working within that classic sound. One of their latest discoveries, Vancouver-raised, Toronto-based singer-guitarist Jessica Stuart, melds the best of both folk and jazz on her debut album, 'Kid Dream,' for a breezy, dreamy vibe that's perfect for a relaxed summer soundtrack.
Backed by the stellar rhythm section of Dan Fortin (bass) and Nico Dann (drums), the Few might mirror the traditional jazz trio, but Stuart and company put a fresh spin on that formula by playing around with convention, packing the songs full of musical ideas that veer in unexpected directions.
As with much of Do Right's output, the jazzy bent of 'Kid Dream' occasionally takes on a bit of an urban edge, perhaps thanks to hip-hop remixer Mischa Chillak's production, which puts the emphasis squarely on the groove.
Of the album's 11 tracks, 'Epic' stands out as the best example of Stuart's knack for matching a folky melody with a soulful rhythm, with its intro of strummy guitar backed by brushed cymbals leading into Stuart's airy voice. Her nimble vocals float atop the jazzy palette, reminiscent of labelmate Elizabeth Shepherd's jazz-pop bent (though Stuart takes an sweeter tack to her singing than Shepherd's rich, sultry style).
There's a nice attention to detail in the song structure -- a sneaky little bridge about halfway through the song seems to slow things down before picking up steam and exploding into a wash of skittering rhythms and pinging vibraphone. And in another nod to jazz, the track allows all three players to shine by putting the focus on the vocals, melody, and rhythm at various points in the song, almost as if to give each their moment in the spotlight.
Ironically enough, the song itself is anything but "epic" in the usual sense of the word, but its softly glowing charms make the case that there's something equally monumental about music that's just plain lovely.
NXNE set: The Jessica Stuart Few play the Do Right!/YYZ Records showcase at the Piston on Saturday, June 19 at 10PM