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- Posted on Jul 2nd 2010 2:30PM by Tabassum Siddiqui
So it's fitting that her bright, breezy new debut album is titled 'Choose Your Own Adventure' -- clocking in at under 30 minutes, it's more of a taste of the Toronto musician's prodigious talents rather than the entire experience, but what an introduction it is. Keeping the focus on Todd's honeyed, feather-light coo of a voice, the record nimbly flits between styles (bossa nova, funk, folk, pop) without ever sounding disjointed or forced.
It's just the soundtrack for sun-dappled bike rides or picnics in the park, all infused with a jazzy bent in keeping with her label Do Right's focus.
Like labelmates Elizabeth Shepherd or Jessica Stuart, Todd also goes for a timeless, not trendy sound, though with far more eclecticism than most female vocalists operating within a classic idiom. The girl's got soul -- both in the musical and personality sense -- and that verve is writ large all over 'Adventure'. Interestingly, however, it's the quieter moments that really resonate, such as slow-burn stunner 'A Lullaby For My Fictitious Children Lucious & Sumat,' a gentle gem that tips its hat to Billie Holiday's 'Gloomy Sunday' with its spare but emotive vocal take.
While Todd can really belt it out when she wants to, what's impressive is that she doesn't even need to -- though her voice rarely rises above a soft croon on 'Lullabye' (perhaps befitting the title), the approach nicely suits the sweet melody and imagery in a way that sets the tune apart from the livelier numbers on the album.
Opening with a gorgeous waltz-y intro before the strummy melody and doo-wop backing vocals kick in, 'Lullabye' recalls the kind of genuinely fresh-sounding take on neo-soul Brit songbird Corrine Bailey Rae used to do so well. The song echoes the kind of old-school vibe you'd swear you've heard before, but at the same time doesn't sound like a stuffy re-tread of a well-worn template.
By the time the horns kick in -- ever-so-gently, mind you -- and the song swirls into its swoony finish, Todd's managed to make you wish you could fall asleep to her tender voice every night. "Know there are monsters out there," she sings, "Who cut you down/Please don't be afraid of those monsters out there/They've got their own upon their backs." A simple sentiment, perhaps, but a reminder even those of us who've outgrown the imaginary demons under the bed could certainly use from time to time.
Todd may have dedicated her lullaby to her "fictitious" children, but whenever they do come along, one can't help but think those little ones will be pretty lucky to have such a beautiful tune to call their own -- until then, the fact that we listeners get to enjoy it in their stead makes us the fortunate ones.