In response to our year-end roundups, a Facebook reader pointed us to the longlist for the 2017 Borealis Music Prize for more terrific albums from Newfoundland. I’m delighted that he took the time to make the suggestion. There are several projects on the list with which we’re unfamiliar, and we’ll be rectifying that as soon as we can. Additionally, there were some albums we simply forgot about – one of which I thought I’d muse about here: Steve Maloney’s gorgeous “The Memory Game,” which came out last August, and which just won the singer/songwriter Borealis Prize last week.
If you enjoy reflective, beautiful folk music, this project is a perfect listening choice. The album is a collection of eight lovely songs, sung and played wonderfully. Steve Maloney’s singing has that classic, pure folksinger sound that can’t be bought or taught. He also has a tremendous supporting cast on this album – Joshua Van Tassel as producer and drummer, Tamara Lindeman (The Weather Station) as background vocalist, and Drew Jurecka as violinist/violist.
The album clocks in at only 26 minutes – part of me wishes it was longer (I’m greedy for good music that way), but it’s so delightful that I can’t bring myself to complain. Every song is a highlight, but I want especially to lift up a few in particular. “Highway Sketch” is one of the best depictions of long and lonely times spent driving that I’ve heard, and Steve Maloney’s singing is countered so perfectly by Drew Jurecka’s strings that one could nearly weep with the beauty of it.
“No One Loves You Like I Do” is another beauty of a tune, a delicate waltz of a love song that says a lot in its quiet eloquence. While most of the songs feature guitar prominently, it’s lovely to hear the piano get its turn in “No Warmth Against the Light” (and the strings on this song send shivers down my back, they’re that good).
I hope that with this album, more music fans include Steve Maloney in their mental list when they think of artists from Newfoundland. If you enjoy quiet, thoughtful acoustic folk, you absolutely need to hear this album – it’s a jewel and it’s deserving of every recognition it receives.