Can an artist be considered a Hidden Gem if the likes of George Stroumboulopoulos features her music on his show? Even with coverage by a well-known radio personality, success doesn’t always follows an artist, no matter how talented s/he may be. Case in point Annie Sumi, a 21-year old musician from Whitby, Ontario, whose songwriter exceeds her youth and who, Strombo expressed his fandom for her style and voice.
On her debut album, Reflections, which she released last month and features 8 original songs that span folk and alt-country, Sumi’s songs are contemplative and thoughtful; songs that one would expect to be written by someone that has walked this planet for three maybe four decades. Take, for instance, the opening track of the record, “Life Like That”, which describes her grandparents’ undying love and how she, too, wished to experience that one day. Or “Oak Tree”, a story about one’s favorite spot and future resting place that has a summery, jumping, alt-country vibe.
In addition to the songwriting, there’s a haunting, melodic tone to her debut album, which can be attributed to the work of Juno-nominated producer Ben Leggett, who helps Sumi expand her sound and find a deep, emotive sound to complement her sombre stories. “The Waltz” personifies this ‘marriage’ of songwriter and producer, as the inclusion of strings lifts the song to a hallowing end. The song is the highlight of the entire album, taking the listener alongside Sumi as she enchantingly sings about a chance meeting of two people.
Her youthful innocence, however, isn’t completely abandoned. In the album’s second half – “Wild Things” (a country-pop tune), “When You Go” (an alt-country tear jerker in the mold of Mary Gauthier), and the tender ballad “Best of Me” – Sumi sings about love or love to come and of heartbreak and infatuation. It is in these final three songs where the album’s title truly resonates, where the reflections can be anything – the past, the present, or the future, or about oneself or others.
Despite her age, Sumi has stories to tell and lessons to offer. With a mature sound and poignant songwriting, her time as a hidden gem won’t be for long, and more people than George Stroumboulopoulos will be shouting her name.
Sumi is also on tour, and dates are below, which includes a stop at Avante-Garde Bar in Ottawa on Saturday, May 23.
|May 19||Musiikki||Kingston, Canada|
|May 20||The Garnett||Peterborough, Canada|
|May 22||The Branch||Kemptville, Canada|
|May 23||Avant-Garde Bar||Ottawa, Canada|
|May 28||The Raven||North Bay, Canada|
|May 29||La Fromagerie||Sudbury, Canada|
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