Jah'Mila's achingly personal track, and 5 more songs you need to hear this week
Listen to fresh Canadian tracks from NLN, Softcult, White Lung and others
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:
- TheHonestGuy and Naja.
- White Lung.
- Christine Fellows.
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.
'Back Home,' Jah'Mila
Halifax-based reggae artist Jah'Mila has sung for the likes of the Wailers, Black Uhuru and Richie Spice, but last week she released something for herself: her solo debut album, Roots Girl. Featuring last year's sweet summer single "Sugar & Spice," as well as "Rise," her commissioned song for the East Coast Music Hour series The Story and the Song, Roots Girl weaves the influences of Jah'Mila's Kingston, Jamaica, and Halifax homes for something truly original — and something Jah'Mila didn't ever expect to happen.
"I always thought that my love of music would relegate me to background singing because the reggae industry is so very male-dominated," she said in a press release. "I don't see myself in the image of the popular artists that are coming out of Jamaica right now. With Roots Girl I've stopped thinking about all that noise, and instead invited people into my world. It's an honest portrayal of finding my voice and my place in music." "Back Home'' is a great example of that, as Jah'Mila reaches out for a love that's gone but long from forgotten. "How do broken hearts/ find their way back home?" she sings, over a bassline that moves her softly along the achingly personal track. Backed by an eight-piece band and her own backup vocalist this time, Jah'Mila is making a unique space for her brand of reggae. — Holly Gordon
'My Pleasure,' TheHonestGuy, Naja
When it comes to crafting romantic, bedroom-ready R&B songs, TheHonestGuy (Mubarak Adeyemi) doesn't mince words: previous song titles include "Morning Wood," "Let's get Blown" and "Beg for It," and his latest EP is called How to Make Love. This is overtly sexy music. "My Pleasure" completes the latter project, and its vocal intro, sung by Naja Wilson, is pure Mariah Carey. That's no coincidence, according to Adeyemi, who describes the song as "a classic ballad-duet reminiscent of records like 'Endless Love' [Carey's duet with Luther Vandross] and 'One Sweet Day' [her duet with Boyz II Men]." Enveloped by lush production (Adamjosh) and strings (arranged by Aaron Paris), the singers make vows of love to each other, wedding-style, and while the track clocks in at a generous four minutes and 41 seconds, you basically want it to last all night long. — Robert Rowat
'If You're Gone,' White Lung
The news of an upcoming White Lung album (Premonition, out Dec. 2) is bittersweet for fans. While a recent string of singles marked the first new music we've received from the Vancouver rockers since 2016's Paradise, Premonition will be the band's final release. According to a press release, White Lung's latest track, "If You're Gone," is the album's centrepiece, addressing the subjects of parenthood, postpartum depression and suicide. "The song is about the emotions of children when their parent is now gone and how they deal with that loss," frontwoman Mish Barber-Way (who gave birth to two kids during the pandemic) says. "It also looks at the struggle parents face when life gets so bad one doesn't see another way but to end it." Musically, the band's signature ferocity is still intact — guitarist Kenneth William's riffs sharp as ever, while Anne-Marie Vassiliou's drumming still barrels through with powerful precision. Barber-Way's vocals remain a central force; direct, but fuelled with empathy as she sings, "Someday they'll try to survive/ they'll wonder why you're not alive." — Melody Lau
'SWAG,' Christine Fellows
Christine Fellows crafts intricate worlds with each of her projects, and her new song, "SWAG," is a taste of the hidden treasures the Winnipeg songwriter's Nov. 25 album, Stuff we all Get, will hold for us. Weaving string and horn arrangements by Ford Pier — and backup vocals from husband and regular collaborator John K. Samson — with the song's piano backbone, Fellows cleverly picks at our world's algorithms, painting vivid pictures of us "tabulating views and alarming news, synchroniz[ing] our moves in the basement." For each track on Stuff we all Get, Fellows has made an intricate stop-motion video, and the one for this quasi-title track is delightful in its details. "In our dreams we're ravelling but all our stitches are pulling at the seams," sings Fellows, as cutouts of a kitten and a bright ball of pink yarn dance across the screen. "It's a hard drive. It's a hard drive. Give us patience. Give us grace. Give us peace. Give us space. Give us kindness. Give us light." It's a welcome reminder to be gentle with each other on this bumpy life road. — HG
When we were first introduced to NLN through CBC Music's Beyond the 6 earlier this year, the Ottawa rapper was in the midst of a years-long run of dropping a song a week. Through that process he flexed and sharpened his skills, proving that he can rap over any kind of beat and never sound out of place. He took a three-month break but recently announced his return to his exhaustive effort with "StickToPlan," again releasing a song every week since late October. Over an old-school beat — record scratches included — NLN drops hard-hitting bars with clever wordplay that'll have you listening a few times to discover all the hidden gems. He comes in quickly on "StickToPlan" and absolutely eviscerates any naysayers who might doubt his lyrical prowess, matter-of-factly putting them in their place: "If they don't understand, wait until they understand/ but until then Imma stick to plan." If there's one thing you need to make it as a rapper, it's the skill to back up your bravado — luckily for NLN, he has both in abundance. — Kelsey Adams
Kitchener duo Softcult's music has always used the personal to illustrate the universal, whether tackling misogyny, sexual assault or emotional manipulation. On Softcult's latest single, "Drain," Mercedes and Phoenix Arn-Horn set their sights at the greed of world leaders and multi-million-dollar companies that prioritize profit over everything else. "Look at your world/ isn't it beautiful to drain," they sing on the track's opening verse. "How much is it worth/ when there's nothing left for you to take?" Softcult's grunge-rock provides the perfect soundtrack to the duo's frustrations, with fuzzed-out guitars growing into an inescapable fury that practically combusts when the Arn-Horns sing "yeah" and let their outrage speak through their instruments, all clashing together in a moment of both cacophony and catharsis. — ML