Snappy Singles: May Day, May Day

Snappy Singles May 2022

For this British half of Team GDW, “May Day” conjures up memories of a UK national holiday – one that commemorates the historic struggles and gains made by workers and the labour movement.  Of course, here in North America, we recognize the equivalent “Labor Day” holiday in early September.  On this side of the ocean May Day applies more to an internationally recognized radio call signal used by boats and aircraft when in distress.  Well, our four hand-picked tunes here are no reason to cause alarms, so we’ll deem them the celebratory variety. Enjoy these fabulous recent single releases.  

Rachel Cousins, “For Myself”

We kick off this edition of Snappy Singles with a blast of modern R&B-pop from out of Newfoundland – not something you encounter on our pages very often – but this recent single release from emerging artist Rachel Cousins is definitely one I feel worthy of several spins. Co-written/produced with Jemuel Roberts and Daniel Adams, “For Myself” came together during an online writing session.  Taking a deliberate shift from Rachel’s penchant for ballads (“Aftermath” remains a firm favorite here), the trio purposely wrote this single to be a more upbeat, positive track, and it did not take long for them to create the toe-tapping rhythm and lyrics for the tune – one that eloquently delivers a universal message that there’s nothing wrong with taking time and doing things for yourself. Through its enveloping rhythm, positive lyrics, and dreamy vocal layers, this is very much an affirmation and anthem designed to put the listener in a great mood. “Inspired by early 2000’s pop and R&B, the song is a groovy and empowering dance-pop number,” Rachel offers. “[One] that speaks the importance of self-care and living your truth day by day, without the need for a significant other.”

Melissa Lauren, “The Day We Stopped”

The day we stopped for a minute / I missed my call to war / Dancing in the window I forgot we were the show / How many ways to measure / The things that keep us real / The day we stopped for a minute / For a minute.” Straddling the lines between jazz and pop, for Toronto, ON singer-songwriter Melissa Lauren, this recent single not only seeks to share the harsh reality and emotional toll from enduring a miscarriage, but also gently alludes to the importance of making time to stop, to feel, to breathe, and to notice the good around you. Produced by Tyler Emond, the composition grew from the constant fighting between Melissa and her marital/musical partner, Nathan Hiltz, and develops into a deeply moving tale of seeking out ways to return to a place of pure love.  With some gentle acoustic guitar strums to open, and gradual shift to an orchestral affair, Melissa’s lyrics tug at the heartstrings of anyone who has experienced the feeling of being misunderstood.  “I don’t wait around for inspiration … but I am always alert to inspiration so that when I do put pen to paper, I have things to draw from,” she shares. “When I lost the baby, I was sad; but a big part of it was sorrow over not having enjoyed the time I had being pregnant. [This] song was raw and very much in the moment.”

Caribou Run, “Believer In You”

Move to the country, call it a start / Can we be in this together? / Don’t be afraid of the plans that we’ve made / For I hope they last forever / I still remember that late April night / You looked in my eyes as you passed me / And with the passing of time it all ends up right / You’ll quit waiting around and just ask me.”  Award-winning Mahome Bay, NS neo-folk band Caribou Run recently announced the forthcoming arrival of their highly anticipated third studio album later this year, and shared this taste of new music to remind us just how catchy and anthemic their songwriting and music continues to be. “Believer In You” has an almost hypnotic element to it, easily luring listeners in to learn more of this tale about a couple seeking to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, and instead find peace and a less frenetic pace in a cozy, country setting.  Recorded by Thomas Stajcer and Alex Burris (mixed by Stajcer) at Fang Recording in Dartmouth, and mastered by J. Lapointe at Archive Mastering, the enchanting nature of this song provides a beautifully timed and much welcome return by this six-piece Maritimes band. “But something about this place seems right / I hear the wind blow in the dead of the night / Find the way, be there for me and I’ll be there the same.

Jenn Nucum, “Five-Year Plan”

Am I even alive / Between 9 to 5 / When I’m slaving away in overtime?” It seems only fitting that we wrap up today with a tune more aligned with the UK May Day theme, and where Toronto indie-pop artist Jenn Nucum challenges not only the 9-5 work culture, but also the damages of a capitalist machine on people who are trying to make a living under unethical and inequitable working conditions. “I spent several years working at companies with extremely toxic cultures, where employees were constantly put under high pressure and unrealistic expectations, and not provided proper support to do their jobs and maintain work-life balance,” Jenn shares. “In my corporate career, I went through severe burnout and stress. This is reality for countless people working in the corporate world where employers prioritize profits and their ‘five-year plans’ over the health and well-being of their workers.”  Yet, given the raw subject matter, Jenn remains purposely playful here musically, eliciting a feeling of nonchalance with her audience, collectively sharing an annoyance with these capitalist hierarchies. “Am I even alive between 9 to 5” was a question I repeatedly asked myself,” she adds. “I now use this lyric to ground myself in the fact that my real life happens outside of those hours – no exceptions or excuses.”

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.