Wed, Jun 12, 2013.
It's always interesting to watch the development of a group which is full of ideas and ready to follow the muse where it takes them. That's certainly the story of Albert County's Lovestorm, as unique a duo that's ever come out of the province. They started as a couple, who were also a couple of musicians: Tim Isaac, the cellist from the folk blues duo Isaac and Blewett, and Nina Khosla, the bass player in the pop band Great Balancing Act. Wanting to create something new together, their 2009 debut as Lovestorm, Great Ocean, surprised everyone who heard it. Khosla is the main vocalist and lyricist, and plays keyboards, while Isaac brought not just his cello, but also started programming loops, sounds and percussion. The theme of the group was just as bold: they sang life-affirming, love-affirming lyrics, both intimate and personal, and about the broader world, with a connection to the environment, nature and the senses. It was as positive as could be.
Now they are three albums into the project, with the new Free To Love. The pair has really honed their sound, and lyrics as well. The song productions are bigger, with the electronic and percussion elements now the major component of each. Well, that and the cello, and that's what makes them unique. This is orchestral, electro pop music, the keys, beats and loops as cool as any European techno group, but with the added interest of that cello providing such beautiful lines on top, mostly playing great fills, answering the vocals and melody. Vocally, Khosla has become more daring, a little tougher than what she's done in the past, finding more energy. There are fewer atmospheric songs here, and more electronic, with dance grooves. Khosla picks up on that, and gets more adventurous and upbeat. I think these are all improvements, this album is their most cohesive, and pulls off a tricky move. It's put the duo closer to the techno-pop scene, fitting them in, but at the same time they've retained their individuality, with the cello as main instrument, and the positive force in the lyrics a concept that stands out.
Now as for the words, this is also the best set of the three albums. In the past, I've picked on the lyrics as possibly over-the-top in sincerity and simplistic in delivery, like a Sesame Street song and lesson. The message is still the same, love one another, love yourself, respect each other and the planet, but the writing is more mature, more poetic and in-depth. I'm all for that. I think the life lessons still come out, and you pay more attention. Both Khosla and Isaac have really stepped up to the plate.
Lovestorm are about to launch the new disc with a series of shows in the province. It starts off next Tuesday night, June 18, at Taco Pica in Saint John. Next Wednesday they'll be at Sunbury Shores in St. Andrews. Thursday the 20th it's Fredericton's Cedar Tree Cafe, and on Saturday June 22nd, they'll be in Moncton, at the Empress Theatre for the the final CD release show.
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Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).