Over the last several months, there have been two trends emerging, one more apparent and the other not-so-evident. First, more actresses and actors are getting involved in the music scene. The most famous one is Jennifer Lopez, but more recently Scarlett Johansson (who has gone from covering Leonard Cohen to fronting an all-women pop band), Johnny Depp, and Sean Penn have gotten into the act. Then there are films where celebrities have gotten to display their vocal chops (Anna Kendrick, Hugh Jackson, Anne Hathaway) and how can we forget the celebrity “Lip Sync Battle”.
Second, Hamilton, Ontario is emerging as a city with some serious musical talent. There have been some well-known acts that have come from Canada’s “Steel City”, such as Tom Wilson and his various projects (e.g., Junkhouse), Whitehorse, and Colin Cripps, best known for his work with Kathleen Edwards and now The Tragically Hip. Then there’s the underbelly of the Hamilton music scene with numerous, talented songwriters, including the likes of Jeremy Fisher, Kim Koren, and Wax Mannequin.
Maybe you recognize both of these developing patterns, but it’s a rarity to have one individual fit both categories, which Kathleen Munroe does. Now based out of Los Angeles and having starred in ABC’s Resurrection, HBO’s Call Me Fitz, and CBC’s six-part series Durham County, Munroe, who is using only her last name as a recording artist, has written and recorded her eponymous debut EP.
The album is filled with seven moody yet cinematic, indie-folk songs. The music is dark at times, such as on the opener “Bloodlet”, which resonates with the sound and tales of the deep south; the beautifully haunting “Mercy”, which reflects the brooding qualities of Timber Timbre; and the hallowing yet captivating “Sycamores”, which recalls Marissa Nadler‘s chilling simplicity.
It can have a calming feeling, such as on the cascading “Summer” or the folk-pop track “On The Briars”, which is a lush and stunning single. Or it can be contemplative, like on “Nothing is Funny”, the album’s closer that is short, simple, and sweet, telling the story of waiting for a loved one to return, or be engaging, such as the little ditty “Bonnie”.
What’s the most impressive about the album is Munroe’s storytelling. For most artists releasing their first record, they often write songs that reflect on their own personal experiences, usually about love and heartbreak. While a couple of songs do take the first-person approach, Munroe focuses on crafting stories based on other people and specific experiences, both of whom may be real or fictional. Combined with the gorgeous melodies, the stirring arrangements, and her quiet but engaging voice, Kathleen Munroe has released an excellent album, one that will have the Hamilton native become known more than just a star on the television screen.
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