Essential New Releases: Album Overload… Sensory Overload

Essential New Releases May 2024

Did somebody turn up the thermostat, because new album releases are just HOT, HOT, HOT right now?  Just trying to keep afloat with the album releases from all over Canada is beyond overwhelming. Fact is, we can’t keep up with the endless demand for coverage – but simultaneously, we can’t ignore some of these lest folks miss out. Our only practical solution here is to offer a concise recap of what’s out there, and why these deserve to spend some time in your listening rotation. Here are four new full-length albums with the GDW stamp of approval. 

Ruth Moody, “Wanderer” 

We’ve enjoyed the music of this JUNO-Award winning resident of Winnipeg, MB for many years now – Ruth came to our attention as a member of Canadian contemporary folk trio The Wailin’ Jennys, but equally with a pair of beautiful solo albums that are over a decade old now.  With the release of “Wanderer” last Friday, Moody marks a long-overdue return to the spotlight with a stunning collection of tunes that chronicle her own personal journey across that decade – exploring the emotional journey of motherhood, the joy and pain of life, the mysterious and complicated dance of love, and ultimately, the longing we all feel for home. Co-produced with GRAMMY-nominated engineer Dan Knobler (Allison Russell / Bahamas), Moody pulled no punches with the teasers of new music dropped prior to the release – track such as “Already Free,” which she described being “about freedom, vulnerability, resilience,” and “Seventeen,” to which she adds, “It’s about that tender time, at the edge of adulthood, where there are so many feelings and so few tools to cope with them” (Quote credit:  

Recommended cuts: “Seventeen” “Wanderer” “The Spell of the Lilac Bloom” 

Kaïa Kater, “Strange Medicine” 

It’s been six years since Montréal, QC singer-songwriter Kaïa Kater last released an album – which I cannot fail to forget, given that “Grenades” was my choice for the 2018 GDW Album of the Year – leaving some incredibly high expectations for her latest “Strange Medicine” album released just last Friday. Co-produced with Joe Grass (Clever Hopes), the new music finds Kater pushing her limits, furthermore, expanding her creative scope as the celebrates the power of women and oppressed people throughout history, while also sharing meditations on her own life. “In Montréal,” her recent surprise collaboration with Allison Russell can be found here, along with “The Witch,” this time partnered with Aiofe O’Donovan. “The through line for me is just stories,” Kater shares. “It’s the story of people in history who might not have had their proper shrift. It’s also the times in my life when I didn’t feel like I had a voice, in order to give myself one now.” 

Recommended cuts: “Fédon” “The Internet” “In Montréal” 

Clever Hopes, “New Kind Of Familiar” 

Given that we name-dropped them just now, here’s another highly anticipated release on the GDW listening radar. Dartmouth, NS singer-songwriter Andrew Shaver (recording as Clever Hopes) set an almost unattainable bar for all future material that would follow his stunning 2022 “Artefact” album – the first runner up for GDW top album honors that year. “New Kind of Familiar” deviates slightly from its predecessor, with Shaver flying solo for the most part, although contributions are to be found from past collaborator Eva Foote, and guitarist Joe Grass (busy fella, it seems) – and with production duties handled by Matthew Barber, this new offering is as equally impressive as that 2022 stunner. “There was a lot of looking back on Artefact,” Andrew shares. “New Kind of Familiar is far more forward-looking: these are songs which celebrate the place I’m in now – a place of stability and clarity. There’s a song that deals directly with the question of death, and one about the birth of my son, or essentially, rebirth.” 

Recommended cuts: “Blue Parachute” “Whore’s Racket” “Run It Out” 

Kellie Loder, “Transitions” 

We all love lifelong memories that never fail to put smiles on our faces, right? Just hearing the name Kellie Loder always leaves us beaming, recalling how in mid-2019, a good Canadian pal insisted we pay attention to this emerging Newfoundland artist – one that embarked on their debut US tour shortly after. Mentioning Kellie’s name to some good friends here in our hometown led to an impromptu concert locally (and dinner invitation with Kellie – thanks Mike N.) just over a week later – here was an artist with a bright career blossoming. And Kellie has not disappointed – a first runner-up on Canada’s Got Talent (2022) and earning Songwriter of the Year honors at the 2023 East Coast Music Awards – and now the release of their fourth studio album, “Transitions,” Kellie goes from strength to strength once more. “We’re always changing, evolving, growing, learning, and becoming, where pain is always necessary and pleasure is always nice, but we must embrace both,” Kellie shares about this new release. “May you stop chasing what isn’t yours and accept the love you can give yourself.” 

Recommended cuts: “Honey I’m Scared” “When We Kiss” “Eyes For You” 

The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.

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