Snappy Singles: Cheery Tunes For The Onset Of Winter Blues

Snappy Singles December 2021

How crazy is it that another year has almost passed us by?  Another ‘pandemic filled’ year, no less, but once again, the sheer volume of great new music from across Canada kept us busy as we transitioned into our sixth year here at GDW.  The single releases show no signs of slowing down, making it an on-going challenge to narrow down the choices to just four for this monthly feature.  Happy Holidays to all of our friends and followers out there – we wish you all the best and hope you enjoy our hand-picked selections to close out 2021.

Léonie Gray, “Banana Split”

Our final foray into Snappy Singles for this year commences in Montreal, QC, where we discovered this absolute corker from emerging artist Léonie Gray.  Raised on the jazz of Billie Holiday, the soul of Etta James, and a mixture of alternative and classical music influences, Léonie delivers her own style of soul and R&B music with an enchanting voice that charms listeners with retro-modern flair.  “Numb / Nothing to say I feel so numb / I split / I break / I fall apart, fall apart, fall apart / Always go straight back in your arms / In your arms, in your arms.”  Opening with some classic soul-jazz guitar strums and keys, Léonie’s vocals quickly light up the room, and oozes with the sounds of Amy Winehouse, Corinne Bailey-Rae, and Leslie Feist, with her native Quebec accent easily adding Ariane Moffatt to the list.  The delivery is vintage Winehouse, and draws comparisons to Beatrice Martin’s cover of “You Know I’m No Good,” making “Banana Split” an instantly relatable classic too.  “In Banana Split, I tackle my dissociative episodes, that moment where body and brain both seem disconnected from each other,” Léonie offers. “We fall in a second state, the ‘split,’ which in my case affects my speech and memory. Certain situations and relationships can trigger this state, which I describe in this song.”

Mike Legere, “Love Songs (In Fear Of Dying Penniless)”

Raised in NS, but now calling Toronto, ON home, indie-rocker Mike Legere recently shared this dark and brooding single about navigating break ups and loss with our friends and community.  Recorded live off the floor, it captures the feeling of suddenly being on the outside, surrounded by one experience of grief and expected to perform another.  “I wanted to tell the story of an artist who is experiencing heartbreak and finds themselves feeling isolated and alone, being in this dark place where people can’t really deal with it,” Mike shares. “Then they produce this shiny piece of art that receives validation and they feel at odds with their own redemption in the eyes of others.”  Light, jangling guitars gradually yield to harsher tones and depth as the song progresses, easing with a notable shift before the final refrain; the music video providing a visual feast that complements the intensity of the audio.  “Each band member is lit with hard cuts of chiaroscuro lighting against black and purple backdrops to accentuate the menacing guitar tones and lyrical themes of isolation,” adds Legere. “A split-screen effect was used to enhance tension … while also heightening the themes of alienation and judgment found it its lyrics.”

Sarah Hiltz, “Love & Retreat”

We hang out a little longer in Toronto to bring you this latest release from contemporary folk singer-songwriter Sarah Hiltz, which follows the success of her previous single, Swim.”  Both tracks shall appear on Sarah’s forthcoming album, “Calm Fury,” a project with which the artist seeks to explore themes of how people experience, express and suppress anger in modern society – especially women – and creates a song cycle in response.  “I bring myself right to the edge of my seat / And my fingers grip the books in my lap that he lent me / I start to fidget with the page corners and think / That it’s a fine line between love and retreat.” For Sarah, this latest tune draws upon her experience of fraught communication, using the setting of heated arguments and discussions, making this catalytic track the apex of the album as a whole.  “That experience paired with a few other events, inspired me to create this project because I realized I actually don’t know how to express anger in a healthy way, no one ever taught me how to do that,” Sarah offers. “But I think it’s in our closest relationships that it could make the deepest impact, if we could learn how to better be angry with each other.”

The Cabaret Quicksand, “The Light Returns To Shine”

Ontario is well represented this month, it seems, as we wrap up with this indie pop/rock tune from Niagara Falls band, The Cabaret Quicksand.  Originally founded back in 2016 by bassist/songwriter Craig Rewbury, and joined by producer/guitarist/songwriter Paul Gigliotti (Wave) three years later, their mutual love of British musical influences (including The Beatles, Oasis, and The Stone Roses) brought with it a natural chemistry and direction for their own brand of high-energy indie-pop music.  Released back on November 24th, “The Light Returns To Shine” opens with plenty of ringing guitar riffs and stomping drums, those influences pretty clear from the offset.  And with the arrival of Craig’s vocals, I am immediately left debating which is his more dominant trait: the hints of Richey Edwards (Manic Street Preachers) in his sound, or Radiohead’s Thom Yorke in his style?  It is certainly hard to ‘not’ hear some of those Gallagher boys influences in the mix too.  “It’s a song about the rollercoaster ride of feelings and emotion we’ve had/have or will have during some of these dark days our world has been experiencing lately,” Craig offers, when asked about the origins of the song.  “The positive is that we’ll get through it and exist stronger than ever.”

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.