Essential New Releases: GDW Jukebox Heroes

Essential New Releases Feb 2024

Taking a week out to attend a family gathering overseas recently, it was quite overwhelming to open the GDW email inbox upon our return. Overflowing was an understatement. With plenty of amazing new tunes to consider, and with little time to delve too deeply into them, let’s go ahead and power up the GDW jukebox. Here are eight – count ‘em – EIGHT recent cuts for your listening pleasures. Leave your roll of quarters at home – we’ve jimmied the coin slot, so the tunes are free. 

Dover Lynn Fox, “Winter Son” 

This latest tune from Toronto-based indie folk-rocker Dover Lynn Fox (produced by Chris Stringer) offers a deeply personal narrative about her father’s cancer diagnosis, wrapped in a piano-centric pop coating. “The song became a retrospective of relationships and places that were meaningful to me, an emotional journey and tapestry of memories” Fox shares. “I was surprised that I had woven so much hope, light and faith into such a raw song.”  

The Rural Alberta Advantage, “FSHG” 

As the Toronto alt-folk rockers kick off a winter North American tour this week, they whet our appetites with this new video for “FSHG” – the last song written (and recorded live off the floor) from their current “The Rise & The Fall” album. “I wanted FSHG [to] feel like a counterpoint to the rest of the album,” shares vocalist Nils Edenloff. “I wanted to record [it] while it still felt organic and raw … [like] a brief and momentary event.”   

Brittany Kennell, “One Drink At A Time” 

We witnessed Beaconsfield, QC artist Brittany Kennell road-test this latest tune during her visit to the US back in November – and is set to appear on her forthcoming second studio album. Describing this tune as a song about taking love and alcohol in the same night (but just a little bit cautiously) surely, I am not alone here hearing a little Pat Benatar during those opening lines – followed shortly after by Kennell’s signature ‘new-country’ sound. 

BANNERS & Lily Meola, “Perfectly Broken” 

As one of our long-time favorite Commonwealth Connections discoveries, Liverpool, UK artist BANNERS reimagines his 2022 hit tune as a duet, teaming here with Hawaiian soul-pop artist Lily Meola. With some stunning keys, strings, and two voices so perfectly mated, this is ‘power pop’ at its absolute finest. BANNERS releases his latest album this coming spring, and based on this collaboration alone, we cannot wait to hear more. 

Delaney Davidson (ft. Reb Fountain), “Heaven Is Falling” 

We’re not done with our Commonwealth Connections artists just yet – we cannot dismiss this stunner from Lyttelton, NZ alt-folk rocker Delaney Davidson. Co-written with Hayley Westenra (Aotearoa) and featuring Kiwi transplant Reb Fountain, the Morricone-esque spaghetti-western noir vibes yield to some atmospheric vocals and string instrumentation. Delaney – please come tour the US and/or Canada someday soon. 

Melina Coolen, “Behind Every Cloud” 

Switching gears now, we bring you this charming instrumental piece from NS musician Melina Coolen, who was first featured on GDW almost 2 years ago. “I composed this piece about eight winters ago shortly after my grandfather passed away,” Melina recalls. “I remember the sun being extra vivid in the sky. Once I looked out my window on a stormy day and the clouds were dark, but the sun was shining brightly behind them.” 

Laraw, “Standby Baby” 

A recent GDW discovery, Montréal artist Laraw was born in Canada to a family with both Moroccan and Lebanese roots. “Standby Baby” mixes electro-rhythms and soaring guitars to reflect a contemplative mood, while Laraw’s vocals express her feeling about a devaluing relationship. “The song is dedicated to a person who made me feel like I was not up to it,” she admits. “But who, in the end, regrets having lost me.” 

Shawn William Clarke, “Tall Trees” 

We’ve kept this one simmering on the backburner for a while – as Toronto’s Shawn William Clarke is another long-time fave (and good friend) here at GDW. Written during the middle of the pandemic on the balcony of his upstairs neighbors (while looking after their cat named Eugene), Shawn braids the comforting simplicity of the sights and sounds of his immediate surroundings with the emotional heaviness of pandemic life.  

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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