Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 2:15 pm
Canadian singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards is enjoying a huge career boost with her new fourth album, Voyageur. Produced in part by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Voyageur sounds deeply personal and genuine: Edwards sings of failed marriages, life in the spotlight and the delicate happiness that comes with new beginnings.
Ever since Craig Finn's band The Hold Steady first broke through in 2004, he's gotten famous for a mix of hyper-literate story songs and classic-rock arrangements. After releasing a string of highly praised albums and EPs, Finn took a five-month break from The Hold Steady to record his solo debut, Clear Heart Full Eyes.
Jonathan Wilson is practically overflowing with music, if his debut album Gentle Spirit is any indication. The album runs 78 minutes, with several songs spanning more than six minutes. That's a lot of material for a debut, but Wilson is no newbie — he's worked with the likes of Elvis Costello, Robbie Robertson and Jackson Browne.
Polica's sound is crisp, minimalist and mesmerizing. Singer Channy Leaneagh plays her voice like an instrument, using AutoTune both in the studio and at live shows to manipulate her vocals. Against the sliding violins, saxophone solos, relaxed bass and dueling drums of Polica, it's hard to believe that before this, Leaneagh sang folk music for six years in her previous band, Roma di Luna.
Girls' 2011 album Father, Son, Holy Ghost strikes a careful balance between creating music that sounds classic and writing something that's already been done. Ever since Girls' debut, Album, the band has been writing and recording music that's familiar, urgent and refreshingly simple.