Upper Class | A&C | Secret City The fight to determine the best Canadian…
- Posted on Sep 24th 2010 12:30PM by Tabassum Siddiqui
Named after a beloved children's book and dedicated to her own mother, who passed away last year, 'Are You My Mother?' draws from both New Pornographers' effortless pop smarts and Immaculate Machine's slightly edgier indie rock bent. Clearly Calder has learned a thing or two about songcraft from the fine musical company she's been keeping -- however, the album also introduces listeners to her own unique individual sound, which isn't too far removed from many a like-minded piano songstress without sounding derivative, or like typical singer-songwriter fare.
Adding to the intimacy of the project, Calder and producer Colin Stewart recorded the album at her mother's home in Victoria, using everyday items such as tissue boxes and filing cabinets as percussion, and whatever old instruments happened to be lying around. Though Calder handled most of the instrumentation on the record herself, many of her peers (including Porno bandmates Neko Case, Kurt Dahle, and Todd Fancey, as well as members of Ladyhawk) also pitched in during the recording process.
Calder has a knack for crafting a melody that moves beyond merely pretty to something more striking, as evidenced on one of the album's strongest tracks, 'Slip Away', which keeps her appealingly feather-light vocals front and center over minor keys and subtle percussion. The initial dreamy vibe evokes other sweet-sounding alt-pop contemporaries such as the Submarines -- that is, until the chorus unexpectedly explodes into a swirl of layered girl group harmonies and a heavier beat, pushing the tune into territory akin to Aussie songstress Sally Seltmann's latest Brill Building-inspired work.
There's certainly an element of melancholy to the tune's gentle, almost rueful-sounding melody and introspective lyrics, but 'Slip Away' is far more poetic than maudlin, evoking the passage of time in minor keys and thoughtful ruminations -- a fittingly lovely tribute to a loved one lost too soon.