November sure rolled around quickly, meaning we bid farewell to Daylight Savings Time for another year – and face the arrival of cooler temperatures, falling leaves, and earlier sunsets. But the turning of the calendar page also means a new installment of Snappy Singles, and we have some fabulous new single releases to share there today. It doesn’t matter if you need to head out to rake leaves, pack up your Halloween décor, or start preparing for the onset of the holidays, we highly recommend you take a few minutes to sip on a hot beverage and enjoy these tunes.
Blue Rodeo, “When You Were Wild”
With the transition from summer to fall comes the prospect of darker days ahead (physically and/or metaphorically), and let’s face it, even pumpkin-spiced treats can only do so much to keeps those blues at bay. Sometimes we need something to distract us from these changes, and what better than a gift from iconic rockers Blue Rodeo, who surprised us all with this new single on October 15th, and announced an upcoming album release for December. “It’s hard to let go and to know when / But on the darkest day / You’ll find your best friends / No confessions, no regrets / We can’t take back the things we’ve said / Just trying to remember the better times / Back when you were wild.” From the initial spin (there have been, ahem, many since), this single has all the hallmarks of the tried and tested vintage Blue Rodeo sound – atmosphere, pace, instrumentation, catchy hooks, and great melodies. “But on the darkest day / You’ll find your best friends” – two lines that capture the spirit of co-vocalist Greg Keelor’s message being shared. “That line is what [the song] is all about,” he offers. “When you meet your moment of reckoning and you feel the fuckery of fate’s wheel careening through your life, it is friends that get you through. A lifetime of friendship is only remembered in the moment.”
Kristen Martell, “Quiet Hearts”
It is hard to believe that it was back in the late spring when we last shared new music from Mahone Bay, NS singer-songwriter Kristen Martell. Two seasons later, Kristen proudly shares her second single from a collaborative co-writing session with award-winning artist Gabrielle Papillon. “Illuminate these quiet hearts / That falter in the dark / And lose their way without a spark / And keep us standing still / Hands against the wall / Miniature and small / Barely visible.” With gentle layers of synths and harmonies, pulsing keys and an infectious beat, Martell continues to hone her dreamy folk-pop sound, recorded once again under the watchful eye of producer Dan Ledwell. “We all feel restless and stuck at times,” Kristen shares. “I wanted the [music] video to reflect this heaviness, while also offering a reminder that we don’t have to fight this feeling to get to the other side. We can flow with it and find the answers within.” “Quiet Hearts” will have you standing tall amidst your innermost challenges and ready to illuminate the path ahead. “[It] speaks to emotions we all experience,” adds Yarmouth, NS video director James Turpin. “Searching for a sense of purpose, needing a creative spark … Kristen’s voice is a confidently reassuring presence that works very well with this soothing and memorable melody.”
Matt Paxton, “Let’s Rock N’ Roll Again”
It appears that Hamilton, ON-based alt-country artist Matt Paxton has been flying under our radar for many years (five albums already under his belt), and we are delighted that he recently reached out to us with news of this stunning Americana single release. I stopped dead in my tracks last month when discovering the debut solo album from fellow ON alt-country artist E.P. Lepp, and repeated the exercise when giving this absolute gem a handful of spins – Paxton describes himself as one of Canada’s promising no-nonsense singer-songwriters, and I wholeheartedly concur. “It’s raining on the other side of the bar / And you got stars around your head / I wonder how you ever got so far / Driftin’ down the riverbed / I want to see you, my friend / Flyin’ round the riverbend / Let’s rock n’ roll again / Let’s rock n’ roll again.” Produced by Aaron Goldstein (Lee Harvey Osmond) at Baldwin Street Sound in Toronto, the single is mixed by Kenneth Roy Meehan (Daniel Romano), and mastered by Stephen Pitkin (Elliott BROOD), Paxton is clearly quite at home wearing his heart on his sleeve, delving into themes of love, loss, desire and self-reflection. And yes, those are the stunning harmonies provided by the versatile and talented Carleigh Aikins that are impossible to miss here too.
Kaia Kater, “Parallels”
We wrap up our November Snappy Singles feature with our favorite Grenadian-Canadian artist, Kaia Kater, who recently dropped this new single and first taste of new music following her JUNO-nominated “Grenades” album (my personal 2018 Album of the Year recipient). Co-produced with her touring bassist Andrew Ryan, “Parallels” provides a long-awaited return for this folk-bluegrass artist, who teams up here with both Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah (trumpet) and Kevin Matthews (drums). “Parallels is about destruction,” Kaia boldly states. “It’s about ripping out harmful beliefs that have grown and taken root inside many of us like weeds.” “There’s no justice / It’s just us baby / We’re conductors for one another / Copper in the gravy / Spit it out, cottonmouth / All the venom you’ve been saving / For me.” “I wanted to create a sense of sonic chaos – as if anything could happen – because mine and my friends’ experiences over the last few years have been to show up and care for each other amidst the chaos of job loss, financial instability, mental health crises, environmental disasters and more,” Kaia adds. “I would like Parallels to be a welcoming for whatever folks feel – be it sadness, rage or whatever else.”
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.