While several Canadian artists have become international sensations, especially in the pop, rock, and hip hop realms, many continue to fly under the radar, especially with the folk community. Yet, Canada’s folk scene is vibrant and healthy, arguably at its most innovative and daring point. This year along, for instance, saw hidden gems Dana Sipos take us on an escapade while Kathleen Munroe haunted our minds.
Like these two artists, singer-songwriter Gabrielle Papillon has quietly amazed folk music fans for her personal and vivid stories, particularly in Atlantic Canada, where she has performed and gained a following for nearly fifteen years. In addition, she has been nominated for several East Coast Music Awards and Nova Scotia Music Awards. Despite her lengthy career that includes three other albums, Papillion remains a hidden gem, at least to many music fans across Canada and the globe.
But she’s not a secret within Canada’s music industry. Quite the contrary, she has a long list of admirers, which is evidenced by the “Who’s Who” of artists who performed on her latest album, The Tempest of Old. Jenn Grant, Sean MacGillivray , Michael Belyea, Catriona Sturton, Kinley Dowling , the late Fleur Mainville, and producer Daniel Ledwell (who has worked with Kathleen Edwards and Jenn Grant among others) all contributed on the album. With the multitude of artists involved, Papillon has utilized their collective talents to create a terrific album.
It’s not just a folk album, and to call it folk music would be unjust. Throughout the 13-track record, there are strings and horns and an ethereal undercurrent that swells the soul. Some would call it folk-pop and others may call it dream-folk or orchestral folk, but regardless of the label The Tempest of Old is stunning and haunting at times, like the fabulous lead and opening song “Got You Well” and on later tracks, such as “Brother Throw Down”, and “Then Will I”. It is also tantalizingly rich and alluring, in particular on the album’s beautiful closer “Well Beneath”, the delicate ballad “Idling”, and the warm and embracing duo of “Kentucky In The Dark” and “Symphony of Better Times”.
What Papillon has done is bring folk music to contemporary times, making it cinematic and breathtaking. While there were hints of this sound in her previous work, her music hasn’t sounded quite this euphoric. Maybe, just maybe, this hidden gem will glimmer more brightly as the days pass.
Papillion is currently in Europe for a short tour. You can find dates here.
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