Tag: Canadian music

Interview: Julian Taylor

Julian Taylor 2B4A2758The first thing to notice about Canadian singer-songwriter Julian Taylor’s new album, The Ridge, is his voice. It is crisp and clear while also being warm and inviting. The artist who immediately springs to mind as a comparison is the legendary Ella Fitzgerald – whom Taylor says is one of his favourite artists, so much so that his daughter is named Ella. Frank Sinatra is another possible comparison, although, as Taylor will explain, Sinatra is not an influence.

It’s not the voice Taylor has always had, he says: ‘When I was a teenager and I put out my first record, I was listening to a Pearl jam and I was listening to the things like that. And basically it was 90s hip hop and 90s grunge, that was my thing. And so I didn’t enunciate at all. When I was growing up, music that I did listen to was the music of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Not Frank Sinatra, because my family is black and indigenous and it’s not a slight against Frank, but nobody in my family from my grandparents’ era was really into that.

‘My grandfather had huge issues with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. It was not cool. He thought they were stealing people’s music and he was not impressed. So we never listened to that until I got out of the family dynamic and was old enough to go out on my own and listen to things. You’d hear Marvin Gaye. You’d hear Motown because of my mum and her sisters. You’d hear gospel-ly music because of my dad. He loved Andraé Crouch and Stevie Wonder specifically, but also played classical piano. So a lot of classical music was in my house.

‘And then on my indigenous side it was a lot of country music and rhythm and blues, because of that upbringing. You had Willie Dunn. Gram Parsons was pretty prevalent on people’s stereos at that time. Kris Kristofferson was there. And then on the rhythm and blues side, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Sonny, Terry, Brownie McGee. So American music, really.’

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Single release: ‘Still Waters’ by The Hello Darlins feat. Matt Andersen

HDStillWaters-singlecoverThe Hello Darlins are a Canadian band with members of exceptional pedigree: Calgary-based vocalist/producer Candace Lacina and keyboardist/producer Mike Little (known as MFL). They are both in-demand session musicians, and six years after first meeting at a recording studio, they formed The Hello Darlins. The band also includes several other experienced and respected Canadian musicians.

‘We thought it would be fun to put together a band with long-time, professional musicians who are often the people “behind the songs” you hear on the radio,’ says Lacina. ‘It’s a “collective” – with friends and special guests. It’s like the Broken Social Scene of Americana.’

The Hello Darlins’ new single, ‘Still Waters’, is a slice of musical perfection. There is a finely tuned balance of elements, and of voices – Lacina along with an appearance by revered singer-songwriter Matt Andersen – that is no doubt due to the experience of the artists involved, restraint so often being the result of learning to edit your own work.

The Hello Darlins have plans to release an album but they are on hold for the time being – as so much is – but this song is so lovely it can be listened to over and over, so that may well tide fans over until the album is released.


Apple Music | Spotify



Single release: ‘Wait on Me’ by Lisa Nicole

Lisa-Nicole-WaitonMe-Single-Art-High-ResCanadian singer-songwriter Lisa Nicole’s new song has its origins in a 2017 encounter with Keith Urban, when Lisa Nicole had the chance to jump on stage with him. It inspired Lisa Nicole to move to Nashville from British Columbia in 2018 – and that meant she now had a long-distance relationship with her Canadian partner. ‘Wait on Me’ is the song that resulted.

This is not a song about the artist wishing she weren’t on the road – instead, she embraces the work while acknowledging that it’s hard to be apart from the one she loves. So she asks him to wait on her.

Says Lisa Nicole, ‘There are moments in life that test the balance of our commitment between professional goals and personal relationships. While there is great pressure to choose one over the other, I don’t believe it has to be that way. Your heart can want – and have – both. “Wait on Me” is about making the bold choice to follow through on your dreams, but also build a future with someone you love anywhere and anytime – regardless of obstacles.’

This is heartwarming country pop with a realistic story and message – and as it was written after her relocation to Nashville it suggests that Lisa Nicole made the right decision.

Listen on:

Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify


Album review: Open by Tanya Ryan

4PAN1TListening to any song, or collection of them, there’s usually one thing that stands out straightaway. In the case of Canadian singer-songwriter Tanya Ryan and her new album, Open, it’s her voice. Not just because it’s technically so good but because it’s strong and warm, inviting the listener into her songs while also letting you know that she’s going to make sure you’ll enjoy the experience. Authority is not a quality that is often ascribed to voices, but it’s an important one: it’s the quality that tells the listener they’re in really good hands, and it stems from an artist being confident not just in that voice but in their songs.

Ryan has good reason to be confident in the songs on this album. Stylistically they cover country rock, and pop, ballads and uptempo tracks. Lyrically Ryan examines different types of love: romantic, maternal, as well as love of self, and of ambitious pursuits. Ryan handles the range of styles and moods with that aforementioned authority and also with great tenderness. It’s the care taken by an artist who wants to do the best by the audience as well as by the songs.

Ryan has been developing these skills for quite some time. Originally from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, she wrote her first song at age seven, and kept singing, songwriting, and playing various instruments before moving to the Alberta Foothills. Once there, she won the Calgary Stampede’s Nashville North Star Contest in 2012 and was one of six artists chosen for the Canadian Country Music Association’s 2014 Discovery Program. That amount of dedication and experience to her craft is evident in these songs, some of which are gloriously uplifting and some of which will break your heart, in the best way (and in the case of the last track, ‘My Heart Song’, it’s both). Ryan is prepared to access her own emotions in order to help us access and understand ours – this is one of the roles and responsibilities of an artist, and it’s clear from Open that she takes that seriously, and has produced a seriously good album accordingly.

Listen on:

Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify


Interview: Danielle Todd

BackBurnerArtwork.jpegCanadian artist Danielle Todd has found success on Australian airwaves this year with her single ‘Crazy’ – and now with the new release ‘Back Burner’. Her style is eclectic while being identifiably country, and it’s all driven by her powerful voice. Todd is heading for the Tamworth Country Music Festival in January – but it won’t be her first visit to Australia.

‘I don’t remember the year,’ she says, ‘but it was a while ago.  I really just wanted to travel so I travelled over there and then I really liked it. I ended up getting like a working visa that allowed me to play gigs. But I was just playing little pubs, little hotels, RSL clubs and stuff like that, mostly around the Sydney area. And then I did travel up to Queensland. I went up the coast. I also visited Hamilton Island and Adelaide – I have some family in Adelaide. So I did as much travelling as I was able to do and then performed whenever I could when I was there. I loved living over there and experiencing it. It was just a different lifestyle altogether than my Canadian life.’

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Interview: Jess Moskaluke

500x500.jpgOne of the great things about the recent Country2Country festivals in Sydney and Brisbane was the opportunity to see artists who haven’t yet toured Australia, and that includes Canadian Jess Moskaluke, who wowed the audience from the very minute she started. Moskaluke is an outstanding performer who’s had what would once have been considered an unconventional path to a music career (were it not shared by her countrymen Shawn Mendes and Justin Bieber). I had the chance to speak to Moskaluke when she was in Sydney.

What is the best thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is that I get to travel to beautiful places like Australia. No doubt. And also the people. I get to meet a lot of incredible people, whether they’re artists or fans or bloggers or whoever. I’m really fortunate to go a lot of places and meet a lot of people that I wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to.

And what’s been the most difficult thing about it – if there has been anything difficult?

I would actually say that part of it is the same thing, although it’s one of the best parts about my job. The travel is also one of the most difficult parts. I often leave my husband and my dogs at home and, and my friends and family behind, and I don’t have a lot of time. I also don’t have a lot of routine in my life due to that. So it’s certainly rewarding and I do enjoy it, but it certainly is a challenge.

I lived in Canada for a year, a while ago, in Vancouver, and I volunteered at CiTR radio station and worked on their magazine. So I had a lot to do with Canadian music. Australia is a big country geographically, but Canada is bigger. So I used to think about the logistics of bands from the Maritimes, trying to come to the west coast. People in the Prairies, where you grew up, trying to get around. So even if you’re touring just within Canada, that must be logistically difficult.

Yes, absolutely. And with the Maritimes, it’s just as hard for us to get over there. I’m very fortunate that I have fantastic support over in the Maritimes, but it’s really tricky to get over there, so we don’t get there as much as we would like to. It’s a massive country. So every time we do a radio tour just to get across the country to get to all the proper radio stations and things like that, it takes us weeks, and you can maybe only can hit a couple of cities a day.

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Single release: ‘Driving in the Dark’ by Amanda Jordan

Amanda-Jordan-Single-Art-DrivingintheDark-High-Res.pngCanadian country music is developing its own identity, led by stars such as Gord Bamford. Although country music roads do led from the USA – to Australia as well as other countries – Canadians have long had a distinct approach to their national cultural output that is not so much about proving that it’s distinct as keeping their heads down and working to make the best song, book and so on as they can.

Amanda Jordan is a country-pop artist originally from Smith Falls, near Ottawa, ON, who has just released the single ‘Driving in the Dark’ and an accompanying video, which you can see below. And Jordan has, indeed, been working to make her music great, with top-ten finalist spots in the 2016 and 2017 Ole Red Dot on the Spot Songwriting Competitions, and the finals of the 2018 Canadian Songwriting Competition for her song ‘Silverado Run’. That same year, she opened for Canadian superstar Brett Kissel in Sudbury, Ontario and was one of eight wild cards to compete for the last spot in the Boots and Hearts Emerging Artist Showcase. That experience – and her subsequent songwriting work in Nashville – have led to the release of this wonderfully entertaining, moreish song.


Jordan made the decision to move to Nashville in 2018. ‘The very first time I drove to Nashville to write,’ she says, ‘my twin brother was accompanying me and telling me about how he loved to drive at night and into the sunrise. From there, the song [“Driving in the Dark”] grew. I wanted to create a happy musical energy that captures the euphoria one feels when you first fall in love and begin experiencing the world together. It’s something you can listen to as you drive along on a warm summer evening.’

Jordan will return to Canada in October for an Ontario media tour and single release show in Ottawa on 19 October to coincide with the Canadian radio release of ‘Driving in the Dark’.


Listen to Amanda Jordan on:

Apple Music | Spotify


Album review: Halfway Home by Morning by Matt Andersen

71ay4hcxUWL._SY355_.jpgCanadian singer-songwriter Matt Andersen has long had a voice that sounded like it belonged to someone far older, saturated in life’s experiences and prepared to share them. Since Andersen is now up to his tenth album, perhaps he and his voice are travelling in tandem – and on Halfway Home by Morning they certainly sound like a comfortably united pair.

Andersen’s sound is soul and blues and rock and Americana, and his voice handles all of those genres effortlessly, as well as being one of those voices that sounds as though it comes straight from the past, present and future. Halfway Home by Morning is 13 songs of emotion, honesty and connection, with each line made more heartfelt by the delivery of it – by Andersen and the outstanding band and backing singers who appear with him.

The album was recorded live in Nashville, and that energy gives the songs a warmth that could have been lost if each track had been recorded individually. It also seems to give it an air of celebration – not that the songs are all celebratory (Andersen does a very fine ballad), but as if you’re at an hour-long party with the best possible entertainment.

Andersen and his band are constantly on the move – no Australian dates have been announced in the near future, but should he make his way back to these shores, Halfway Home by Morning suggests it would a performance absolutely worth taking in.

Halfway Home by Morning is out now on True North Records via MGM.

Apple Music | Spotify


Single release: ‘Crazy’ by Danielle Todd

Danielle Todd | 1-2.jpgThe song title ‘Crazy’ is, of course, familiar to country music audiences thanks to Patsy Cline – but Canadian singer-songwriter Danielle Todd has reinterpreted the word in a completely different countrified way, creating a gloriously upbeat song that’s about being  crazy in love rather than love lost.

In ‘Crazy’ the Nashville-based Todd has created an earworm that you won’t mind having. Her instincts as a performer – which is a more-than-full-time job, with Todd paying gigs up to seven days a week – have no doubt helped her create a song that is hard to resist; it’s also clear from the vocals that she knows how to communicate through song, with a strong, joyous sound.

Watch the video for ‘Crazy’ below or listen to the song on:

Apple Music | iTunes | Spotify



Old Man Luedecke on tour in Australia

Canadian singer-songwriter Old Man Luedecke is a fairly regular presence in Australia, thanks to his dedication to touring here. And Australian audiences appreciate his charm and gentle sense of humour – and, of course, his music. For an example of all of that, see this video of ‘Low on the Hog’ from his latest album, One Night Only! Live at the Chester Playhouse.


Old Man Luedecke tour dates – go to https://festivalofsmallhalls.com/tours/summer-2018/ for details

Thu Nov 29
Brookstead Hall, Brookstead QLD*

Fri Nov 30
Maryvale Community Hall, Maryvale QLD*

Sat Dec 1
Cooranga North Memorial Hall, Cooranga Nth QLD*

Sun Dec 2
Mothar Mountain Hall, Mothar Mountain QLD*

Wed Dec 5
Koah Hall, Koah QLD*

Thu Dec 6
Forrest Beach Senior Citizens Centre, Forrest Beach QLD*

Fri Dec 7
Middlemount Community Hall, Middlemount QLD*

Sat Dec 8
Queen Street Hall, Yeppoon QLD*

Sun Dec 9
Bucca Hall, Bucca QLD*

Wed Dec 12
Rainbow Beach Community Hall, Rainbow Beach QLD*

Thu Dec 13
Thornville Hall, Thornville QLD*

Fri Dec 14
Springbrook Community Hall, Springbrook QLD*

Sat Dec 15
Mt Nebo Community Hall, Mt Nebo QLD*

Sun Dec 16
Eudlo Hall, Eudlo QLD*

Dec 27 – Jan 01
Woodford Folk Festival

*With Lucy Wise