Hey! Quick intro: I’m Athina, and I’m here to share the albums and songs that have special meaning to me. If you’ve already heard them, great! If not, maybe you’ll get a new earworm for them.
It may currently be August, but that doesn’t mean I can’t publish my takes on some of the best Canadian albums. July isn’t over if you believe it isn’t over; time is a construct, after all.
Without further ado, let’s get into it!
Words can’t possibly describe how much this album means to me. Loreena’s music will always have a special place in my heart. It has soothed me since before I was born; my mother has played her music all around our home my entire life. Now, it’s there on Spotify for when I’m craving nostalgia. Flavours of folk and world music emerge in all of Loreena’s albums, and The Book of Secrets, released in 1997 (“Loreena McKennitt”, 2014), is my favourite by far. It’s jaunty and uplifting at times and solemn at others. Loreena invested great care into the lyrics of every song. The lyrics of her song “The Highwayman”, for example, are actually the lines of a poem by Alfred Noyes (“The Highwayman”, n.d.). Loreena’s song flows smoothly, seamlessly arranging the lines into a tune that is both catchy and reveres the original work. The song, and thereby the poem, craft a poignant story that one can either listen to so that their breath catches softly or hum through without really paying attention.
“Marco Polo”, my favourite song from the album, isn’t so much a song as a piece. When Loreena vocalizes, it is only to hum, and her humming is hauntingly beautiful, complementing the Hellenistic music perfectly. In the interest of space, I unfortunately can’t go on about the other songs in detail, but I promise that they are just as beautiful as those that I have discussed here. Give the album a listen if you want!
I can’t possibly make a review of Canadian artists without including K.D. Lang and her album Ingénue, released in 1992 (Milward, 1992). It is husky, silky, and irresistible, including such hits as “Constant Craving” and “Miss Chatelaine”, the latter of which has been one of my absolute favourite songs since I was a child. The romance of the French-inspired music floods through the song like a softly rushing river, accompanied by K.D.’s sultry voice and lyrics. “Just a kiss, just a kiss; I have lived just for this,” K.D. says, and I know these words so well; I’ve been reciting them longingly for years. I blame this album for making me into the hopeless romantic I am today.
Nelly Furtado’s album Loose, from 2006 (Young, 2015), is one of those albums that defined the 2000s, at least in my opinion. When I think about growing up in the 2000s, I think of bands and artists like The Black-Eyed Peas, Maroon 5, the Pussycat Dolls, and, of course, Nelly Furtado. Again, I owe my thanks to my mother for getting me into her music, and I had one of the best introductions to anyone’s music ever when I listened to the song “Promiscuous” for the first time. Though I didn’t know what the lyrics meant until I was well into my teens, that didn’t stop me from bopping along to it as a small child. Now I can sing along to both Timbaland’s and Nelly’s rap parts, and the song never fails to cheer me up. It’s one of those songs that allows you to be unabashedly silly.
Still, Nelly got backlash as many criticized Loose as a detrimental transition into a more sexually explicit image and discography. I find this extremely uncalled for; so what if a woman wants to be more publicly sexual? It seems like she couldn’t do anything right in the eyes of her critics; as Adria Young noted in Vice magazine, “When Loose‘s second single ‘Promiscuous’ started its 24-hour rotations across Canada, Furtado was immediately and notably one of the first Canadian artists to experience public slut-shaming.” (2015). She also noted that Nelly’s image has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of her music, and I completely agree. Why don’t we just stop criticizing women for the choices they make with their own bodies? Apparently, it was considered as wild a concept in 2006 as it is now, with responses to Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s collab on “WAP” echoing what was said about Nelly.
Last, but certainly not least, a Canadian AND LGBTQ+ band: Tegan and Sara. Tegan and Sara are the eponymous twins (“About”, n.d.) known most of all for their single “Closer” from their album Heartthrob (2013). I’m discussing their album Love You to Death (2016), which includes the single “Boyfriend” (Snapes, 2016). It’s poppy but a bit melancholy, no doubt an ode to the struggle of many women who are out of the closet in love with women who want to downplay the relationship by acting as if the other woman is their “very best friend” but then “[kisses] them like [a] boyfriend”. Tegan and Sara add that “[they] don’t to be [these women’s] [secrets] anymore”. Not only is it fantastically catchy, but its message is clear and pertinent: it’s a lamentation because of a love that can’t be shown off.
Thanks for reading the first of many album and song reviews! Hope you enjoyed this one! With this series of reviews, I’m really hoping to draw attention to talented artists, a lot of whom are not very popular but deserve all the praise and fans of the most popular artists today. Stay tuned for my August review, which I promise will also have a punny title.
Loreena McKennitt: The Book of Secrets. (2014). Sputnik Music. https://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/62403/Loreena-McKennitt-The-Book-of-Secrets/
Milward, J. (1992). k.d. lang. Rolling Stone. https://web.archive.org/web/20080420073845/http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/kdlang/albums/album/261992/review/5942063/ingenue
Poetry Foundation. (n.d.). The Highwayman: by Alfred Noyes. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43187/the-highwayman
Snapes, L. (2016). How The Rest Of The World Caught Up To Tegan And Sara. Buzzfeed News. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/laurasnapes/how-the-rest-of-the-world-caught-up-to-tegan-and-sara
Tegan and Sara Foundation. (n.d.). About. https://www.teganandsarafoundation.org/about/
Young, A. (2015). Retrospective Review: Nelly Furtado – ‘Loose’. Vice. https://www.vice.com/en/article/6xzqa7/retrospective-review-nelly-furtado-loose
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