Welcome to the first installment of Snappy Singles for 2022, our recurring feature that promises to bring you four hand-picked singles for your enjoyment each month. Once again, we shall use this platform to bring you a great cross-section of artists and genres from the Canadian music scene – including songs that are not necessarily always fresh hot off the press. If we receive submissions for singles that we feel deserve to be heard (and have no editorial space for a featured review), this is where you’re likely to find something to love. Go ahead and sample our January delights.
The Real Shade ft. Tim Vesely, “Waiting For Good News”
Okay, let’s get the disclaimer out of the way here – yes, I am aware that this track was a single release from last May, but is just too impressive to ignore – and I’m reasoning that this is worthy of being ‘better-late-than-never.’ Featured on “String Of Lights,” the fourth release from Toronto-based artist Jane Gowan and indie-rock veteran Tim Vesely (Rheostatics), “Waiting For Good News” was inspired by the Miriam Toews novel All My Puny Sorrows, and finds Tim taking the lead vocals on this tribute to love, family, loss, and hope. Recorded initially at The Woodshed, the title may even be considered a response to the current pandemic; the event forcing Gowan, Vesely, and drummer Don Kerr into isolation mid-stream, yet they still managed to track their separate parts and piece everything together remotely. The opening notes set an immediate tone, where gently rolling piano infuses with warm guitars and subtle rhythms: “Every conversation weighs theory versus fact / About how we got here and how we might get back / Afternoon is overcast, evening’s gold and blue / The sky is a metaphor for me and you.” The song forms part of their musical journal, written in indigo ink on faded paper, designed to help you see more clearly, while dreaming in color.
After The Wreck, “Abandon Ships”
“Better days yet to come, hold on tight to the ones we love and let it mend our soul / And lead us home.” Yes, I know, another single that has been around for a while now, but once again, one that came to our attention recently when introduced to New Brunswick alt-folk-rockers, After The Wreck. As former bandmates in the early 00s power-rock band Moment Of Inertia, this duo of singer-songwriter Pete Lockhart and musician-producer Randy Ross were drawn together once more, with a shared desire to create something artistically unique. “Abandoned ships in the night, waiting for the daylight, drifting on the riptide / Passengers overboard, forget the reasons we came here for, swimming to the distant shore / I’ve been treading for so long, waiting for the rescue dawn, to come and take me home.” “The music of After The Wreck is a soulful exploration and blend of the finer attributes of rock, folk, and adult-alternative culminating in a unique full rock in roll jacket,” the duo share. “The songs flow through a socially conscious lens, magnifying the light and dark side of the human experience into a powerful and acute focus … [to] seek connections and collaborators in the spirit of crafting enriched music that is more than the sum of its parts.”
Following her debut 2016 “Courage” EP, Nova-Scotia-born and now Toronto-based artist Sheilagh McNab returns to the spotlight with not only news of her upcoming sophomore album, “Courage Again,” but with a new stage-name/persona (SHEAL) too. Where her previous single, “Dark,” explored the experience of fear shrinking one’s inner world, with “Gravity,” SHEAL charts its expansion through love. Piano-led, and with an ethereal, slight jazz-infused mood and tempo, it is the gradual inclusion of lilting clarinet and strings that elevate the grace of the song’s gentle beauty, proving to be one of SHEAL’s most ambitious pieces (both lyrically and in production) to date. The song conveys perfectly the feeling of weightlessness at the center of gravity: “Right before my eyes / I never realized / When you read between the lines / It all makes sense / You see more truth / When you try a different lens.” “Gravity is about what it’s like when you choose to love someone in spite of hurt and difference,” SHEAL offers. “Rather than running away from tenuous relationships, holding space for the other person to be themselves with all their flaws and beauty.” “Gravity has lost its weight / Everything I long to say is rising.”
Ellen Froese, “In The Sun”
We wrap up this installment of Snappy Singles with a quick stop in Saskatoon, SK, and to share this fabulous reimagined version of a previously released tune from folk singer-songwriter Ellen Froese. “I’m a slideshow of memories I think maybe you’ve forgotten / Did you ever feel my heart out on your sleeve always trying / There’s an art to an argument / Why have you never had to practice?” Recorded at The Rec Hall in her home town, Ellen enlists some of SK’s elite to bring this single to life – featuring guitarist Clayton Linthicum (Kacy & Clayton), bassist Chris Mason (The Deep Dark Woods), and drummer/producer Sam Corbett (The Sheepdogs). “[It’s about] conflict and feeling helpless, unable to get your point across … the feeling of not being heard, and just wanting to escape the cycle of thought – planning your next move, and thinking about what you could say to make them hear and understand you,” Ellen shares. “I originally put a version of this song on my album with Campbell Woods, it’s very folky. I thought it would be great to hear a lush, vibey version with pedal steel and soft harmonies. I think this new version gets the feeling of accepting sadness across.”