Rideback is available at:
The album For Evelyn can be pre-ordered here:
24th June, 2016
Dine Along Records
BRINGING to mind my featured artist…
and it gets me thinking about Canadian music- especially emanating from Vancouver and Ontario- female artists fighting for equality and voice; the need for something interesting and bold in music. It has been a while since I’ve reviewed a Canadian act- and the first week (in a while) I have been outside of London- and it makes me think about the country. Like Sweden, Canada is a country that we do not necessarily spring to for the best music around. That is an oversite that is excusable, I guess. The media- in this country- does not expend a lot of time promoting Canadian music. Constricted by time and column inches: it is down to the passionate consumer to dig it out and spread the word. Based in Vancouver- as Georgas is now- it is a city that has a rich array of fine musicians. Black Mountains, Odds, and Pink Mountaintops; The Belle Game and The Pack A.D.– so many different types and sounds. Throw The New Pornographers, Skinny Puppy and Art of Dying are popular local acts: the city is a busy and inspiring one for musicians. That is just the bands I have covered. Carly Rae Jepsen, Bill Leeb, and Cory Lee are a trio of Vancouver treasures: you can put Hannah Georgas into that list. Originally from Ontario: that is another area that has heralded some phenomenal acts. In terms of mainstream/established acts: everyone from Alanis Morissette, Barenaked Ladies and Sum 41 hail here; so too do deadmau5 and Broken Social Scene– Metric and The Tragically Hip. I have not even mentioned Neil Young, Peaches, and The Band! Crystal Castles, Drake, and Tokyo Police Club– another trio of local acts (Toronto, technically)- have inspired waves of new Canadian acts. It is a nation you cannot pin down and define.
Like the U.K.: Canada has such a variation of artists and sounds; different provinces and areas have different scenes. Whereas Ontario- from the acts I have reviewed- have a heavier, Rock-based scene: Vancouver is a more colourful, varied economy. I love all the Post-Grunge/Alternative bands in Ontario: Vancouver boasts more Electronic shades and Indie-Rock; Pop bands and Folk-Synth. musicians. Perhaps I am overlooking (a lot of Ontario diversity) but Vancouver is an attractive city for many musicians of the moment. The most-populous city of British Columbia: the cosmopolitanism- Vancouver has a large gay community and houses many races/nationalities- vibe of the city is drawing the young in. Beautiful scenery and busy cities are reinforcing this appeal: no wonder so much great music is being produced! It would be impossible- not to mention time-consuming- to list all the great artists coming from Vancouver. Suffice to say it: Canada should not be overlooked as a portal for future-classic sounds. Occasionally, we in the U.K. get Canadian musicians coming over there: a taste of the country’s potential makes its way to us. By and large, we have to hear it from a distance: via social media, SoundCloud or whatever. I mentioned this in my last review- concerning an L.A.-based act- but is seems relevant and pertinent. I guess it is tough ascribing and exposing all the great Canadian acts- more needs to be done, mind you. That subject closer introduces another imbalance: women in music and how they have to fight (harder than men) for recognition. It is a subject brought to mind- vividly this morning- listening to an interview with Laura Mvula. The 30-year-old Birmingham-born Soul-Jazz artist feels there is sexism in music, still. Mvula suffers from crippling stage fright and anxieties- the title of her new album (The Dreaming Room) stems from a saying by her therapist- and yearns to connect with the audience. In today’s world: it is shocking there is a gender imbalance in music.
Perhaps not as rife and evident as past decades: why is there still the need (for women in music) to battle and get their voices heard? Perhaps it is not shocking- considering how women face such prejudice in the workplace and society at large- but you would think music would not be culpable. Female musicians coming through are daunted at that reality: how they have to work harder than their male counterparts; will get less attention. Inspiring and strong female artists provide solace, impetus, and hope. Hannah Georgas is one of those musicians that is leading a charge: compelling a lot of others- to follow in her steps- and making huge impressions. Before carrying on, let me introduce her to you:
“Hannah Georgas is a Canadian singer/songwriter. Originally from Newmarket, Ontario, she now resides in Vancouver, B.C.
Georgas released her debut album This Is Good in 2010 and spent much of the next two years on the road touring to support of the album. Uptown magazine called This Is Good “an expertly crafted and frequently adorable…gem of a pop record, full of infectious hooks and gorgeous vocal gymnastics courtesy of Georgas, who has the ability to go from girlish and sugar-sweet to raw and angst-ridden, sometimes in the same song.” The Vancouver Sun hailed her “bold, quivering voice” and “confessional approach to songwriting.”
In 2012, Georgas toured internationally with fellow Canadian Kathleen Edwards. Her second, self-titled album Hannah Georgas was released October 2012.
Hannah Georgas has earned JUNO nominations in her native Canada for Songwriter of The Year and Alternative Album of The Year, with This Is Good likewise nominated for Songwriter of The Year and Best New Artist. Both This Is Good and Hannah Georgas were long-listed for the Canadian Polaris Music Prize”.
It is not just Georgas’ determination, strength and music that gets her into the mind- it is the boldness and invention she puts into her art. Whilst she addresses some ultra-relevant, modern songwriting concerns- anxieties and strong feelings in love (quite old concerns, actually)- she does not sing/perform in a formulaic way. Too many artists talk about love, stress and personal doubts in such an ordinary and therapy-setting manner. By that, I mean negatively and with a definite fatigue. They are hard subjects being addressed: it is not to say you should limit the music and vocals. Georgas has big hooks and a range of emotions- from sweet to raw within a heartbeat- and ensures her songs are fresh, engaging and bright. She is not a musician that sticks to these tried-and-tested topics. There is so much variation and flexibility throughout her career. Now- and with new material and fresh impetus- you can hear Georgas at her most astonishing and hungry. National press and blogs are extolling her virtues: her music is reaching international shores and establishing her as a musician with a mighty future. Perhaps I have been a bit loquacious, but my point remains: those who push boundaries and think outside the box will yield the biggest harvest.
When looking at Hannah Georgas’ current sounds- and her album especially- the biggest comparison- or leap forward- regards her eponymous album. Released in 2012: the ten-track album was heralded and lauded by critics. When her debut arrived- This is Good was unveiled in 2010- many commented on the radio appeal and quirky sound of the music. The fact tracks were used in commercials and soundtracks helped her gain widespread recognition and attention. Building from that confidence and faith: her second album saw her explore more territories and showcase new sounds. Straught-forward, powerful songs had driving guitar lines and intelligent lyrics. Crunching riffs and sassy vocals meant Georgas was more than your average Pop star: someone with verve, wit, and panache. Sassy grooves and killer vocals ensured (the album’s 10 tracks) crossed borders and transcended expectations. Blending guitars and electronics; a butter-melting voice and vivacious personality: many fell head-over-heels for the Vancouver resident. Songs like Elephant saw electronic pulsation and emotional honesty blend together- a song that is hard to ignore. That positivity is never immature or shallow: always genuine and grown-up. The album’s magical highs pleased critics; some thought there was too much polish and not enough killer- those tracks that stand out and demand repeated play. Perhaps Elephant is the exception to the rule: things have changed for the latest album.
For Evelyn continues that blend of sweet sensitivity with rousing anthems: ensuring her existing fans are pleased; new listeners will be intrigued and hooked by the confidence and command throughout. From her debut to eponymous album: some of the sharp-tongued, spiked lyrics were replaced by something sweeter and more level-headed. For Evelyn sees a little of that bite come back: a tougher edge makes its way onto the album. The majority of songs are sharper and more instant than her previous record. The compositions are more rounded and nuanced; there is less a drive for the mass market/mainstream- a more unique, personal and free album. Given the expectations following her debut- advertisers eating her music up- perhaps it is no surprise her sophomore album was a chart-seeking record. Hannah Georgas lets loose more (on For Evelyn) and is making music for the masses- more daring and adventurous than she has ever been. Less concerned with fitting into a mould; appealing to the marketing eyes: the album benefits as a result. Georgas’ performances are at their most confident and incredible. The catchy numbers are catchier; the emotional songs more emotional- everything is clearer and more defined. Perhaps down to the fact she is in her early-thirties: we have a more mature, raw and determined. Melting her debut-album sass with the eponymous smoothness: this is Hannah Georgas at her most pure, consistent and loveable.
Raised by Blues parents- her father was a noted musician- and infatuated by sister’s Hip-Hop and House collections: it was the likes of Annie Lennox and Janet Jackson- the Pop stars of her infancy- that compelled her quest and ambitions. Stints in Punk bands- having written music from a tender age; that was always her goal- she evokes the spirit of Feist with the emotive reflectiveness of Regina Spektor. New track Rideback– in a strange but hardly surprising way- brings all these influences together. The opening notes of Rideback have a magisterial and uplifting sound. You are stood to attention and straighten the back. The opening horns put me in mind of various genres and decades. To begin, it starts static and elongated before opening up and employing more Jazz overtones. Elements of Swing and Big Band; ‘70s Soul and Pop all unite. Many would expect piano or strings to open the song- if you had never heard Hannah Georgas- which gives Rideback’s fledgling notes an originality and unexpectedness. Part-graceful romantic melody- an old-style black-and-white film score- part-modern-day experimentation- the likes of DJ Shadow and De La Soul would use it as a subverted jumping-off point- the senses are primed and the body ready. You wonder which course the song will take. Will it explode into action and get off to a swaggering start? Would it mutate into something sensual and moody? The answer to those questions come in a matter of seconds. Riding that languid, luxuriant burr- the horns continue to entrance and entice- our heroine’s voice begins with a sense of eroticism and dreaminess. Positively purring- her vocal is smoky and tongue-teasing- you witness something very unique and special. Detractors of her previous work- who claimed she is too market-driven or lacks spark- would do good to get their ears de-waxed and hear Rideback.
The lyrical delivery and phrasing is exceptional. Presented with a bit of confusion and definite emotion: she wakes in the middle of the night; wondering who the Hell she is. Less sung: the words are practically spoken; a confession that grows hotter and more suffocating with each second. Addressing anxieties we all feel- the heroine feels her life is passing by- we all have those doubts and late-night internal dialogues. Most artists swaddle it in layers, glossy production, and abstract sounds- almost masking the true emotions and purity of the sentiments. Hannah Georgas is a woman who wonders whether the best days are still ahead: whether life is just a Rideback. Even though she has critical success and a solid career; impressive album sales and thousands of fans- she is still kept awake by nagging doubts and insecurities. Anyone thinking the lyrics lack conviction- how could someone this successful feel this way?- will do well to think more about anxiety, depression and self-doubt. No matter how successful you are: we all have reservations and wonder whether are doing the right thing. Rideback never needlessly explodes and descends into juvenile delinquency. The horns continue to blare and hold; a percussive snap clatters and slaps with direction: together, you get a heady blend; something unusual and utterly instantaneous. There will not be a listener who will hear the song- and those instrumental parts- and not come back to hear it again- such is the allure and addictiveness. “Everyone is laughing but me” is a sentiment that is vivid and real- others have a happiness and content; they are seeing things (our heroine) is not. Curious words that could apply to two things. Maybe they see life’s positivity- Georgas wonders just what they are so happy about- or perhaps there is a general cynicism and doubt. Nobody is immune from the unsettled edge and anxiety that comes through. Although the lugubrious brass and striking percussion add a certain colour and vibrancy- Georgas’ vocal is haunted and affecting; something that gets straight to the heart.
“Everyone is fighting for a seat”- a part of a magical bus or staying alive on a basic level- which gets the mind split again. Whether referring to musicians- eager and keen to succeed- and the need to keep pressing and seeing the wonder of the craft- perhaps that passion for music has dwindled the last few months. On another plain- something more troubling- our heroine could be looking at mortality and simply holding on- life has chances and better days that need to be seen. What if those glory days have already gone- and maybe not ceased as hard as possible- and life is a ride back home- a pedestrian drive to the starting line? It is humbling hearing a musician- successful and young- that has those common doubts and fears. Casting away simple lovelorn themes- the staple of most musicians is relationship issues- we touch on something more profound and deep. Inside that nervousness and sadness, you get beauty, swagger and astonishing compositional moments. At one venture- towards the end- the horns twist and contort- sounding like The Humphrey Lyttelton Band performing on Radiohead’s Life in a Glass House. Nightmarish and rising to a demented crescendo: the horns sound like a murder of crows; all flying into the sky in a rhapsody of squall and fear.
That chocolate-rich sound- the calmer, more-refined horns- and percussion are still in there. What was once a buried fear is now exploding into life: the sound of a young woman unleashing her inner-turmoil and heartache. Just when you think that car crash horn-blare will end the song; we get another twist. Taking things to land are those original counterparts: the kicking percussion joins with the sensual horns; ensuring Rideback ends on a calming note- one that beautifully bookends the track. Single Don’t Go– available on iTunes– kicked For Evelyn’s campaign off with a bang- and is followed by an even larger explosion. Rideback is one of the most dramatic and astonishing songs of Hannah Georgas’ career. Not rushing the lyrics- there are few words; delivered with incredible care and emotion- and ensuring the composition adds urgency and physicality- it is a song that gets into the brain and will not shift in a long time. I have never agreed with any negativity reviews of Hannah Georgas- thinking she lacks edginess and is too polished- as Rideback is a stunning number. Signaling a more assured and world-beating musician- one that still has self-doubt and fear. She need not fear: Rideback is a wonderful song that is among this year’s finest singles.
Having opened with a brief love letter to Canada- and the richness of their music- it is worth reintroducing that for the final part. It is always great exploring the best British music out there. It is important promoting home-grown artists and their potential- that should not come at the expense of international musicians. Not every nation is capable of developing and cultivating such a variegated and consistent music scene. Australia and Sweden are two of the finest: Canada can be added alongside them; some of the most prodigious and extraordinary (music) nations on earth. Digging deeper into Canada and areas like Ontario and Vancouver will always produce exceptional music. If you have any time free- and get the opportunity to investigate music properly- you should look into Canadian artists. Hannah Georgas is one of the finest in the country. She is playing across the U.S. the next month. Tomorrow, she goes to Portland (Maine) and plays the Molson Amphitheatre. The following day, Providence’s Fete Music Hall; New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago are on the docket- Detroit will on the agenda, too (on July 2nd). Bringing City and Colour and Boy & Bear with her: many new audiences will get the chance to hear Georgas and her stunning music.
Rideback is the opening track to her forthcoming album, For Evelyn. Named for her grandmother- a kind, compassionate 98-year-old- it brings together Graham Walsh (Holy F***) on production duties: collaborations with Ryan Guldemond (Mother Mother) and Andy Shauf. Musicians like Hannah Georgas and Laura Mvula are not only making a noise on behalf of all female musicians; they are doing it by creating some of the most original and interesting music you’ll hear. Music is a meritocracy that, in spite of its openness, is still ignoring young women emerging. No idea why this is occurring- and how little we have progressed- but it must end in years to come. Regardless, let’s embrace the brilliant and brave, regardless of gender, age and race. If the last few months have taught us anything- the horrors of the world and violence we have seen- is how important togetherness and humanity is. Hannah Georgas is a musician that does not write songs for herself and a small group of people. She writes for the world and pens themes we can all relate to and understand. Allowing her dramatic, sweeping voice to entrance and fly: Rideback is a beautiful glimpse into For Evelyn’s themes, dreams, and ideas. An album that is overflowing with memorable moments and unforgettable numbers: it will cement Georgas as one of Canada’s finest new artists.
Already JUNO/Polaris Prize-nominated- heralded and celebrated by the press- that success and attention is just the start. Her latest album will build on that and see her name reverberated around the world’s press and public. After touring the U.S.; it seems she owes Europe a little bit of time. I keep mentioning London- and how it welcomes in great artists- but it would be great if she popped by; the options seem limitless for her. Whether taking a break after touring- she will be exhausted, one will imagine- new material is likely to follow. A determined and multi-talented young artist that has a solid reputation and fan-base: exciting times for the Indie-Pop star. Look at her social media feed- Facebook especially- and you get the vibe of a woman who is laid-back and in-control. She exudes positivity and relaxation: a sunset-laden casualness that connects with fans and makes her seem very tangible and human. So many artists hide behind personas and egos; display little common touch with the fans- always liable to put some people off. That is never the case with Hannah Georgas. She is a woman that loves people as much as music: the combination of the two makes her live performances spectacular and highly memorable. Always eager to update her followers- pictures on the road and news- a musician that deserves a lot of love and long-term success. If you have not discovered Hannah Georgas then ensure you check out her latest sounds and discover someone with a lot of years left. Already accruing award nominations and press fascination: one imagines festival headlining and mainstream accomplishment are following closely behind. For Evelyn will go a long way to make sure that happens: Rideback is its confident, instant opener; a song that grabs listeners and brings them into her world. That world is one you will not want to escape from anytime soon. Buckle yourself in; press play; Hannah Georgas…
IS just getting started.
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