Welcome to our Stop! Look! Listen! Music page! Here you'll find what our editors, contributors, and readers are currently listening to in short, snapy recommendations and raves. You'll also find the occasional playlist and other musical features. All contributions welcome — please get in touch to let us know what you're listening to!
As winter approaches, we should start to consider what music will accompany the gloom. Like central heating, stews, and mulled wine, Toronto musician Luka Kuplowsky’s, Capturing the Evening Song, is an essential comfort to get us through the cold. Released in the guts of winter 2022, Capturing the Evening Song is a meditation collection reminiscent of work by Beverly-Glenn Copeland and Hiroshi Yoshimura. It is a dreamy, synthy contemplation on simple, daily scenes.
I recently discovered a unique album called “I am in Need of Music: Songs on Poems by Elizabeth Bishop.” The Silken Water Suite with music composed by Alasdair MacLean and featuring soprano Suzie LeBlanc is arresting and beautiful. The four parts are: I. The silken water is weaving and weaving; II. Dear, my compass; III. Close, close all night; IV. Breakfast song.
Amongst those who know me, I’m not known as someone who can supply music fit for every mood. If anything, I select a song list entirely against the tenor of the evening, the moving vehicle, or the dish pit. Slow sad burners when the night is ablaze and the inverse. Not to be contrarian, but more so oblivious.
Except for hip hop or the occasional R&B-inflected jazz, I don’t really listen to much music with vocals. Last year, though, I started listening to the jazz vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant. Her latest album is Mélusine (2023) but I remain mired in and moved by Ghost Song (2022). I don’t just love her voice, its tone and timbre, I also love her intelligent lyricism, her confident pastiches of different musical eras, her jarring dissections of power in intimate relations, her masterful takes on great artists from Gregory Porter to Kate Bush.
Though it was only released a month ago as I write this, Kelela’s album Raven has been on constant rotation: whether it’s the summery “On the Run,” the piercingly erotic “Sorbet,” or the emotionally expansive “Enough for Love.” Her fusion of R&B, house, and electronica is like no one else. Unlike a lot of contemporary albums, I tend to listen to Raven from start to finish. It asks you to immerse yourself.
I often listen to the same album on repeat when I’m engaged in intense writing sessions – the rhythmic familiarity seems to provide the perfect level of inspiring-but-not-too-distracting background noise. The album I’ve listened to the most over the past couple of years, and that I always recommend to others, is my fellow Winnipegger, Begonia’s, Fear, which she released in 2019.
Every few years, I become fixated on an album and listen to it on repeat until my husband, children and cat are all desperate for reprieve. During the winter of 2021, Lotta Sea Lice was that album. A collaboration between speak-singing indie darlings Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett, it’s a subtle, well-crafted album that’s perfect to write to — it plods along pleasantly in the background until, one day, you realize that the songs are sneaky earworms and you never feel like listening to anything else.
A year ago, I moved to another continent just as COVID-19 was finding its feet (sorry, Mum and Dad). Stuck indoors for months and unable to connect to my new surroundings, I found myself seeking out and appreciating Canadian content more than I had when I was home. I began listening more and more to young Canadian artists – Faouzia and Scott Helman, in particular.