Born in Spring with Warmth from Summer: Chaya Harvey Crafts an EP Perfect for any Season

By Weadee Mombo

Chaya Harvey’s Latest EP: Born in Spring

GENRE: Alt Country/Folk
LABEL: Self Released
RIYL: Hand Habits, Lomelda, Bedouine

Through the hollow ache of suffering, Chaya Harvey carves a soft blanket.

What blossoms in the summer is rooted in the silences of spring. A quiet rest where thoughts may flow as often and unheralded as the rain. When all else is quiet, the longing of the soul grows loud and by listening, we may uncover pockets of gold. It is with this idea Chaya Harvey presents to us her delicate EP, Born in Spring. Though planted and watered with tears, her music flowers with immense beauty.

It is not often you hear a voice that stops you in your tracks and forces you to drop everything and listen. And it is important that you stop as the songs are so bare you might miss them otherwise. Harvey’s voice is soothing and pure. Reminiscent of folk singers Gillian Welch, Sibylle Baier and Jessica Pratt, her vocals carry an incredible lightness to them that each syllable that is sung nearly drifts away into the wind. Each song consists mainly of Harvey’s hushed voice over her acoustic guitar accompanied by Jon Evans on pedal steel, Clara Rose on violin, and Conrad Bjorn Shynkar on mandolinThe instruments fill the warm cervices of every space in a way that acts like a duet.

Released on Harvey’s birthday, June 10th, 2022, Born in Spring is a careful collection of intimate songs drawn from classic folk origins. The ep is no longer than 15 minutes yet drips of melancholy that lasts an hour. Harvey has taken the folk acoustics of her previous release, Tender Love and stripped them down even further. The songs call little to no attention to themselves and Harvey seems to hide in their dust. But straining through her hypnotic vocals, it is her exquisite songwriting that roots each song.

The EP opens with the beautifully slow title track “Born in Spring.” Unhurriedly, Chaya Harvey unveils her heartfelt brokenness that has broken through to timid understanding. Despite her almost overwhelming grief, she has found that “silver lining,” a guiding light, for that sadness to spill out. These are ballads for the roving heart. For those who like Travis Henderson, lose themselves in the sparse Texas desert and feel they must silently resign themselves to the pain. Not fighting or giving in but admitting that though their hearts are lonely, here there is space to “throw their sorrows to the wind.”

“Drifter’s Song” continues her extended sigh and is just as beautiful, just as slow, and just as impressive to swallow. The power even now is the interaction between her haunting vocals and the dramatic swing of the pedal steel. The tempo doesn’t shift upwards at any point in the entire album but instead sways gently at a steady rhythm. Her delivery almost recalls a lullaby leading into a beautiful dream but in some ways, it is less of an affectionate send off than an escape from the emptiness of lonely days “where each day is the same thing.” Forlorn is the path but angelic is the way that leads you there.

Born in Spring is an endeavour of immense restraint told through many metaphors and allusions, but admirably, the song “No Woman is a Shelter” is the most revealing of the record. Though again with notable weight, the song is one of rest and release and its narrative like structure creates a fittingly relaxed climax. The strings of Clara Rose come unexpectedly and linger much in the same way the lament: “No woman a shelter for a broken man,” hangs in fragile thought.

“As I Went Walking” and “In the Sun” come together to usher in the last fragments of the ep where Harvey gracefully shifts to singing in first person as she wanders into the woods. On “As I Went Walking” Harvey sings of waiting at the doors of love and when knocking, being sent away though sparrows bless her path. It is through questioning if joy can be hers even in the midst of “waiting for tomorrow’s grace” that the abstracted intensity of the song beams with full clarity. Through whatever plight of hurt Harvey’s songs recount, there must be a glimmer of grace where she holds the ability to turn “lead into gold.” Allowing the songs to never become overly dramatic or disingenuous is a talent that Harvey wields well. The lightness with which she sings of melancholy is perhaps the same lightness that enables her to waltz in the rain with the birds chirping in the remaining scene.  As the EP ends with “In The Sun,” Harvey gratefully dips away with soft embellishments. Appreciating that with every dark tunnel, comes the light in the distance.

Chaya Harvey is truly something special and I am certain that her dreamy allure will emerge in full form in the Canadian scene soon enough. Anyone who has likewise traveled the path of pain she sings of will find solace in having a voice like hers to light the way.

EP Release Date: June 10th, 2022

Stream/purchase Born in Spring here
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Old Friends, Brief Ends Offers a Brief Glimpse into the Talented Windsor Duo

By Weadee Mombo

The Bishop Boys’ Debut Album: Old Friends, Brief Ends

GENRE: Indie folk rock/Jazz/R&B
LABEL: Soul City Music Co-op
RIYL: Andy Shauf, Mumford & Sons, Father John Misty

The Canadian folk rock duo take a sobering look at past friendships, heartache and love to create perfect comfort album for summers of longing.

Somewhere between the effortlessly relaxed summer days and calm cool August nights, we find the unrushed ballads of Windsor-based Canadian folk rock duo The Bishop Boys with their debut album Old Friends, Brief Ends. The Bishop Boys, comprised of long-time friends Austin Di Pietro and Andrew Adoranti, released their debut album on June 3rd, 2022, a fitting time for an album reminiscent of hazy afternoons.

At its core, the album is an incredibly calming one brought together through friendships and love. The well-structured rhythms, warm arrangements and pleasantly casual lyricism take you out of whatever time you’re in and offer a moment of pause. Balancing the simple yet richly detailed compositions is a feat that pays off as the duo ushers in song after song at a seemingly unhurried pace. It is as though they have no place to go but to sit and share the songs with you.

Naturally, “Intro” sets the tender tone and “Halfway There” embraces the listener immediately after with a relaxed guitar that soon swells into a full-band mirage. Inspired by a relationship, “Halfway There” is in essence a journey to not merely realizing the effort one must take in creating a strong partnership, but likewise the journey of meeting the other person – halfway there. As the organ plays out and the simple refrain repeats “and we just keep moving on/Lord I try to right my wrongs” , the chorus morphs into a brief revelation of the running theme in the album. Be it the listener or the duo, the Boys present the modest idea that if ‘we’ continuously press forward despite the pain of the past, we will find solace too.

“Song Without a Name” is as unspecific and precise as you might imagine, volleying back and forth juxtaposing ideas of happiness and pain. There is a strong sense throughout that the album neither desires to be categorized or defined. The genre-less blend of soft rock and brush strokes of jazz within “Song Without a Name” is a prime example of that. Regardless, the crisp crescendo of swelling horns and organs features some of the best arrangements on the album. “Better Someday” continues the choir-like feel, and flirts with wistful optimism that the prayers to be ‘better someday’ will be answered. “Dark Days” is another highlight and notably the hushed pianos are where the lyrics truly shine through. Interestingly, the bittersweet nature of the album begins to be more revealed with the songs “Better Someday” and “Dark Days,” yet neither takes away from the record’s unassuming nature. The hints of emotion in these songs offer brief glimpses into the heart of the record.

Old Friends, Brief Ends is an album written and recorded over the span of six years and needless to say, the stories that bled into the album linger still. The pair’s friendship is the strong central piece upon which themes of love, growing up and moving on, find solid ground. The people and places that inspired the album (such as Detroit, New York, Guelph and of course, Windsor) are ones familiar to any Ontario native and create a unique collective listening experience. The Bishop Boys have a story to tell and the listener is just as much a part of it too. Spending time with the record is as though you are simply spending time with friends engaged in a conversation.

“Mother Mary,” is perhaps the most tangible song on the record and an appropriately delicate closer where the album finds its end and our stories begin. As we strain to listen past the fingerpicking and ambient noise that spills through, we hear a muted piano and beautiful singing off in the distance. It ends off like a quiet afternoon at a friend’s house playing us out with the sound of rain and the fake ending before giving us a strong goodbye. It stumbles along letting itself come into itself just as it fades out. In some ways, that is like life.

On one hand, the album feels very neatly packaged; complete with chord progressions soaring where one might expect and remarkably tidy production, yet that is not a weakness. While the album never quite veers off the open road into the unknown; it is this expectant conventionality that offers the listener a place of comfort and leaves them hopeful for the road ahead.

Album release date: June 3, 2022

Stream/purchase Old Friends, Brief Ends here
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