Just Who We Are: November 2022

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DAVID, The Magic of DAVID: Levitating Ferrari

Dave Norris (aka DAVID) recorded the entirety of The Magic of DAVID: Levitating Ferrari in his Toronto apartment studio, allowing him to reapply his skill as a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and engineer. Lockdowns and the loss of his mother sent Norris back to his songwriter roots. The result is an ambient, layered collection of songs that speak to his personal experiences of loss and re-discovering music’s place in his life as a means of coming to terms with circumstances beyond his control. “David Copperfield” rings of Sufjan Stevens-inspired instrumentation. Its lyrics meditate on the nature and process of death, “turning something into nothing,” becoming and unbecoming, and being and not being at the same time. On “For M.E.,” Norris sings, “You can stare straight at the sun, cause for me this is still new,” over a piano-driven, horn-inflected ballad about coming to view the world with a new perspective and slowly coming to trust in the way life has unfolded. • Sebastian Johnston-Lindsay

Quincy Griffith, “Just Who We Are”

The barriers we construct between ourselves and the world serve to keep others at bay for as long as we can afford to expend the energy necessary to keep those walls up. What happens, though, when we find that the effort is wasted on someone who seems wholly able to see through our carefully crafted exterior or who confronts us with an uncanny persistence that they know something about us that we might now know ourselves?

“I know you’re uncertain, you’ve been drowning for so long, come and meet at the surface,” London/Toronto-based artist Quincy Griffith sings on his sophomore single “Just Who We Are,” a song which takes the moment of surrender and tenderness and wraps it in a rich tapestry of piano and synth floating across a waltzing beat. Griffith continues to demonstrate his ability to weave deceptively deep themes that drive straight to the marrow of human experience into extremely accessible R&B tracks and shows no signs of slowing down soon. • Sebastian Johnston-Lindsay

Hayden, “East Coast”

When I was thirteen, while most of my friends were idolizing pop stars and guitar heroes, I found that I much preferred a quiet folk singer who had emerged from the same suburb as me. Hayden Desser has been creating tender and intimate music for close to three decades, yet at times it feels that his output is as slow as his songs. On “East Coast” (which is only the second track he’s released since 2015’s Hey Love album), he croons a plaintive yet arresting track that begins with his voice and piano, slowly building to include gorgeously dissonant guitar swells mild synthesizer, all blending with his rolling piano chords. It’s both reminiscent of his back catalogue and yet fresh and exciting. Nearly thirty years in, his songs are just as warm and inviting as always, and my fandom is just as strong. • Daniel Field

Holy Hum, Let It Be Desire

About Let It Be Desire, released in the Spring, Holy Hum’s Andrew Lee writes fragments on Bandcamp, including these: “The shape of a sound moving across the oceans. Moving in simultaneous revolutions that come in and out. To depend on distance. The sound returns.” The EP’s lush ambient pieces, full of piano, synth, strings, hymnic voices, and yearning, evoke the ocean – its ebb and flow. The opener, “Faith in Doubt,” is both gorgeous and frightening, not unlike the ocean itself. And somewhere amongst the piece’s seventeen-plus minutes, you realize maybe doubt and longing just means you are alive. • Laura Stanley

Thanya Iyer, rest

Thanya Iyer has a knack for encouraging self-care. It was, along with community and self-love, the focus of her 2020 LP, KIND, and now on her latest release, rest, which came out in August, she returns to acts of self-care, emphasizing gentleness and, yes, rest. But don’t think that Iyer and the incredible crew of artists she assembles take it easy on this EP. Iyer, like she consistently does so well, is bold in her jazzy and orchestral-folk-pop musical choices and brings us to unexpected and beautiful places. • Laura Stanley

Quilting, Quilting

The self-titled debut EP from experimental quartet Quilting, co-founded by Holy Fuck’s Brian Borcherdt (aka Dusted), is a tapestry of electro-acoustic instrumentation, including the harp and sarangi. Recorded live off the floor in a single performance to a small audience, there’s an exciting curiosity here that only live music can foster. • Laura Stanley

Rahael, All Four Corners

While the title All Four Corners, the debut EP from Vancouver-born/Toronto-based Rahael, invites the assumption that the songs enclosed will be poles apart, it couldn’t be further from the truth. These four placid, and sometimes twangy, folk songs are united by Rahael’s thoughtful lyrics and the singer-songwriter’s journey toward loving others and themself. • Laura Stanley

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