Ebhoni's breezy ode to an ex, and 7 more songs you need to hear this week
Fresh Canadian tracks to add to your playlist right now
Here at CBC Music, we're always on high alert for new songs by Canadian artists.
This week, we're listening to new tracks from:
- Alex Hall feat. Tenille Townes.
- Yu Su.
- Felix Cartal and Kiiara.
- Megan Nash.
- Blair Lee.
Scroll down to find out why you need to listen, too.
What new Canadian tunes are you currently obsessed with? Share them with us on Twitter @CBCMusic.
Hit play on our brand new Songs You Need to Hear stream, filled with songs that CBC Music's producers have chosen for their playlists, and tune into CBC Music Mornings every Thursday to hear CBC Music's Jess Huddleston and Saroja Coehlo reveal which of these tracks is the standout new Canadian song.
'Heart Shut,' Alex Hall feat. Tenille Townes
A flame that won't die is a heavy thing to carry, and country singers Alex Hall and Tenille Townes capture that emotion delicately with their new live performance video for "Heart Shut." Georgia-born Hall and Alberta-born Townes (both currently based in Nashville) co-wrote the song for Hall's Six Strings EP, and their voices, raw and vulnerable, twine for a song of longing and unresolved love. The two talented guitarists pair verse for verse, joining in together for the chorus, singing, "I wish I could walk over, say, 'hello, how've you been?'/ Pretend that this ain't killing me/ Pretend we're just old friends." In an interview with CMT News, Hall said, "We wanted it to feel like the classic duets we all love and don't hear quite as often anymore." Mission: accomplished. — Holly Gordon
'Melaleuca,' Yu Su
Vancouver-based musician Yu Su's debut album, Yellow River Blue, is an "ode to the mother river" near her birthplace of Kaifeng, China. And while there are Eastern influences throughout the record, Yu Su's sound is a melange of sounds, one minute swerving into a house groove and then segueing into trip-hop territory the next. "Melaleuca" is one of many examples in which Su rewards patience by gradually layering and transforming a beat into an entirely different beast by the track's end. A shimmering '80s sheen propels this track, in particular, a loose and fun moment that is later balanced out by a more moody, meditative flip on the album's closing number, "Melaleuca - at night." Yellow River Blue is a sonic journey that's worth getting lost in if you're willing to place your trust in Su's capable hands. — Melody Lau
'Happy Hour,' Felix Cartal, Kiiara
Remember happy hour? Crowded bars full of smiling people holding drinks and engaging in lively conversation? It's practically a foreign concept at this point in the pandemic, which is perhaps why Felix Cartal describes his latest single as an "uplifting loser anthem." On collaborating with "Gold" singer Kiiara, Cartal said, "We started thinking of juxtaposing 'Happy Hour' with darker lyrics. It kind of all fell together once we figured out how to attack it ... sort of pop, but sort of unconventional." The result is an EDM banger that's euphoric but tinged with self-doubt: "It's hard to breathe/ drownin', fallin' beneath/ I think I need a minute/ or I'll run out of speed." But when the drops arrive, with their affirming flute sample, none of that seems to matter. "We're all crashin' down/ when every hour is happy hour." — Robert Rowat
'Quiet,' Megan Nash
Sometimes, the best kind of break-up song is one that parades as a carefree dance-a-thon before winding up for that heartbreaking gut-punch. "Quiet," Saskatchewan singer-songwriter Megan Nash's new single with her band the Best of Intentions, gifts us that perfect mixture: an upbeat, drum- and synth-driven number with an ominous chorus, as Nash devastatingly sings, "You you you you've got the kind of quiet that can kill." "Quiet," Nash explained via press release, is about "your husband, soon to be ex-husband, driving away from you on the Prairies. What an unforgiving horizon Saskatchewan has. It can really draw out a goodbye." She paired that harsh reality with a delightful workout video for touring musicians — one that could easily apply to anyone trying to get moving during the pandemic. With "Quiet," heartbreak and heart rate go hand in hand. — HG
In 2019, CBC Music named Toronto R&B singer Ebhoni one of the breakout new artists of the year. Since then, she's only released a handful of singles, but each one signifies an ongoing growth and refinement of her island-influenced sound. Ebhoni's latest, "X-Ting," builds on an acoustic guitar-based beat as she sings about an ex who can't stop calling, promising to "put the hoes to the side." But she's not easily swayed by his regretful tone, instead effortlessly breezing by past relationships and, later on the track, even entertaining a "future ex ting" who comes calling. May we all feel inspired to deal with messy relationships with such poise and coolness. — ML
'Like 1999,' Valley
If you're feeling "2020 done," then Valley proposes an escape to simpler, pre-Y2K times on its latest single. "If you wanna come over/ Watch Friends and then get high," sings Rob Laska in the chorus, inviting you to "act like it's 1999" over predominantly acoustic guitar accompaniment. The song, which began as a TikTok video, generating more than 700,000 views and countless #secondverse responses, confirms Valley's mastery of the happy-sad bop. Its cheerful harmonies and invigorating beat somehow agree to disagree with the song's bittersweet lyrics. "Do you mind if I'm nostalgic?/ Let's go back before 2000/ Back before our love was so distracted," sing Laska and drummer Karah James in the bridge, a subdued moment of reflection before the chorus drops back in with renewed vigour. — RR
"I don't need somebody to come just to leave me/ stay when it's easy," sings Liza in the opening verse of her latest single, which uses a road trip as a metaphor for commitment in a relationship. "I hope you know if you hop in, we goin' down for a ride." And frankly, as a listener, it's easy to commit to "Rolla," from its seductive electric piano intro and gently swaying beat to Liza's singing as she effortlessly ascends and descends her range, finding beautiful vocal colours along the way. It's a great reminder that commitment can be sexy — the perfect sentiment for Valentine's Day or any day you're celebrating romance. — RR
'Lucifer,' Blair Lee
When the drum beat kicks in at the top of Blair Lee's newest single, "Lucifer," it's easy to believe a Toni Basil-like chant will come storming in. Instead, Lee's voice is soft and timid as she almost whispers the opening line, "I get this feeling in the middle of each night." Produced by Modmaxx (Drake, Roy Woods), "Lucifer" is a pandemic-inspired track where negativity and world-ending fears weigh on Lee like a devil permanently perched on her shoulder. "Come on, Lucifer/ Get off my back," she sings, with a coo that feels equal parts dreamy and weary. But one listen to this otherwise upbeat-sounding track should be the cure anyone needs to get rid of any and all bad thoughts. — ML