By: Tiffany Chang and Tessa Perkins
Choir of the Mind by Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton
Metric frontwoman Emily Haines has released her first solo effort in over a decade, and it’s a collection of blissfully ethereal tracks. Haines has a calming voice that you can just drift away on — even when she’s singing about dark subject matter it has a soothing effect. Metric guitarist Jimmy Shaw returns to plays on the album which he also helped produce and mix. The two are a formidable pair.
With themes of femininity, self-awareness, and coming to terms with one’s past, these songs are packed with wise words and mantra-like lyrics. On the track “Choir of the Mind,” Haines even recites a parts of an Indian poem by Sri Aurobindo, Savitri.
“Fatal Gift,” which began its life as a Metric track, is a sprawling commentary on materialism and the endless cycle of never having enough, as Haines repeats, “The things you own, they own you.” While this song definitely sounds like it would be right at home on a Metric album, it’s the only one on the album that does. Haines has her own sound, but I think most fans of Metric will be fans of her, too. – TP
All the Light Above it Too by Jack Johnson
This relaxed surfer-musician is back with his seventh album. As with Johnson’s previous work, it sounds perfect for a beachside jam session under swaying palm trees, but this time he has some important messages to share.
On “My Mind is for Sale,” Johnson sings determinedly, “I don’t care for your paranoid us against them fearful kind of walls. I don’t care for your careless me first gimme gimme appetite at all.” Showcasing Johnson’s environmentalism is “Fragments” where he decries the state of our oceans. The song is featured in the documentary The Smog of the Sea which follows marine scientist Marcus Eriksen and a guest crew, including Johnson, to study the plastic pollution epidemic in our oceans. The album’s cover image features Johnson laying on the sand with his guitar surrounded by a mosaic of plastic ocean debris. A time lapse of the creation of this image forms the music video for “You Can’t Control It.”
Amidst these songs of activism are Johnson’s trademark lullaby love songs which are more of the same and sound like they could live on any of his previous albums. All in all, this is a strong album and I’m glad Johnson has chosen to use his platform for some social commentary. – TP
Tell Me You Love Me by Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato refuses to slow down, and she’s maintaining a strong presence in the industry with her sixth studio album Tell Me You Love Me. As a long-time fan of hers, I was anxious to hear the tracks and, needless to say, she does not disappoint. Lovato leverages her powerful vocals as well as her aptitude to convey raw emotion. This is especially showcased in “Cry Baby” and “Ruin The Friendship.”
The album is a mixture of meaningful ballads and energetic, fast-paced tunes. She has always been a very diverse artist that can sing songs from various genres, as proven in her previous projects like Demi and Confidence. But this range is exemplified with “Concentrate,” which gives off certain R&B flavours and an increase in intensity and “Sorry Not Sorry,” her first single off of this album and my personal favourite; it’s the perfect number to blast in your car and belt out, as it’s about being confident and feeling like you can take on the world.
Demi Lovato has consistently released distinctive music in the past. There is no doubt that this album shows her ability to continue to do so. – TC