For Those Who Like: Jessie Ware, Grimes, Solange, Dev Hynes aka Blood Orange
Two years ago, Vancouver’s Claire Elise Boucher – a.k.a., Grimes – and London’s Jessie Ware became stars. Last year, it was New Zealand’s lla Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor – better known as Lorde – who became the latest musical sensation. The success of these three women has shown that there is still a place in mainstream music for fresh, innovative approaches in an age of repetitive beats and formulaic song structures. With her spectacular Visions, Grimes brought her brand of electronica that was dreamy and graceful and not just made for losing one’s s***. Ware returned the music world to the 80s and 90s when R&B was chillingly smooth. Lorde has proven that clever, honest lyricism coupled with subtle but shimmering sounds can win critics and audiences over.
This year, Caila Thompson-Hannant of Montreal, who goes by the pseudonym Mozart’s Sister, could be the young artist that wins listeners over. Taking a little bit of her predecessors’ approaches – the dreamy synth sounds of Grimes, the smokey R&B of Ware, and the honesty of Lorde – Thompson-Hannant has put together an engaging and compelling debut album with Being.
Following two well-received EPs, fans have been patiently waiting the arrival of Thompson-Hannant‘s debut LP, and they’ve been rewarded. From the opening two tracks, “Good Thing Bad Thing” and “Enjoy”, the album starts with captivating electronic synth-pop songs that will have people moving. But there is more to the music than just the upbeat tempos and changing vocal registers. The songs’ messages are not exactly joyous and celebratory, but about the real life struggles one faces each day. This dichotomy is repeated throughout the album, where the songs, such as “Lone Wolf” and “Salty Tear”, may make you want to dance but the lyrics will make you contemplate the message should you take the time to listen.
And musically, while most will compare Thompson-Hannant to Grimes, there is more Jessie Ware in the album – from the vocals, the cool melodies, and the funky R&B feel on tracks like “Enjoy” and “Bow a Kiss”. There is also another influence that can be heard on the album – that of Dev Hynes, who is better known by his moniker Blood Orange. Like Hynes, the Montrealer does not over use the synths and electronic beats, but instead with the precision of a veteran composer places them at the right time while integrating plucks of an electronic guitar and other sounds. There are moments on the album where it seems Thompson-Hannant is channeling the great NYC-based artist, such as on “Bow a Kiss”.
Thompson-Hannant‘s star is already burning brightly. Following her performance at Montreal’s Osheaga Arts and Music Festival, she’s expected to head off on a tour in support of Being. One of her stops will be Victoria, B.C.’s Rifflandia Festival. Check her Facebook page for future gigs and catch her in intimate settings while you still can.
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