Mon, Nov 4, 2013.
Montreal's Ladies of the Canyon are on their way east, with a couple of N.B. dates scheduled for the end of this week, in support of their brand-new, second album, Diamond Heart. The four women who make up the band turned a lot of ears with their vocal blend on their debut, Haunted Woman, from 2010. The singing is still there, but so is a toughened up band sound, a bit more on the rock side than the country they've been tagged in the past.
Jasmine Bleile sings and plays rhythm guitar in the group, and as, at heart, they are still a vocal band, but the playing side has become important to their development: "For me, it's singing, I prefer singing to playing, although it's only over the last year I've really been focusing on my guitar, and playing electric and buying gear and pedals. But singing is far more emotional for me. We got together over singing, we spent a lot of time together, we had a lot of crossover tastes, the 60's and 70's, Dylan, Joni, Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and now we discover music together, new and old. We are four very opinionated women and sometimes we don't agree, but this time around with this record, we spent more time learning a lot of rock songs to liven up our set, and we enjoyed that feeling. Covering Led Zeppelin, stuff like that. And it worked our way into this record."
The album has more dirty guitar, a deeper drum sound, and even the vocals, while still in step with the California harmonies of the 70's (see above influences), pick up on the edge. And then there's that Zeppelin cover, Babe I'm Gonna Leave You. "It wasn't really intended to have that on there," says, Bleile, who sings this one solo on the disc. "But one morning over coffee I was strumming my 12-string, playing that old song, because it was one of the first I learned. Our producer (Mark Howard) was in the shower, and came out and said, 'What was that you're playing? We're recording that today!' It became the day of Zeppelin."
Another big change for the new disc is the writing configuration in the group. Eight of the eleven originals feature some combination of group members Bleile, Anne Ruddick and Maia Davis in the credits. In the past, writing has been mostly a solo job for each of them. "Now that three of us have started to write together, there's something new that comes with that," says Bleile. "The magic of three brains and three hearts in the mix, you get a different connectivity. We've been together a long time, and been friends a long time, and been through a lot of experiences. We like to search out new things, we don't want to make the same record each time. I like listening to other artists when they have new things to present too."
"We still write individually, and in pairs, but (writing together) brings it to new heights. What it exposes you to is a new place stylistlcally. You pull each other to new places, and the end result is more interesting. The other two might dominate the verses, and the third might say here's the bridge you're missing. There are no rules, it changes every time. It was something we always wanted to do, but learning to write individually and in pairs was necessary, it requires strength and confidence to get to the point where we could all work together."
See them all work together this weekend, with shows at Moncton's iRock on Friday night, and the iRock in Fredericton on Saturday.
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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).