Jeremy Dutcher and Yo-Yo Ma's 'Honor Song,' and 5 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:
- Majid Jordan.
- Jeremy Dutcher and Yo-Yo Ma.
- Brittany Kennell.
- Le Ren.
- Mind Bath.
- Neon Dreams featuring Mthandazo Gatya.
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 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 Coelho reveal which of these tracks is the standout new Canadian song.
'Summer Rain,' Majid Jordan
There's a refreshing harmonic shift from minor to major when the chorus arrives in this serene new EDM track from Majid Jordan and it's a clever musical manifestation of the simile repeated throughout the song: "Lost in the heatwave, but you came like the summer rain." That's Majid Al Maskati's cue to soar above the clouds, his falsetto a perfect rainbow as he sings, "I can't fight the feeling/ look what you do to me." You might hear echoes of vintage Seal in the song's sweeping trajectory, but the production is state-of-the-art with a crisp beat, resonant bass notes and, in the generously proportioned coda, magical droplets of synthesizer. — Robert Rowat
'Honor Song,' Yo-Yo Ma and Jeremy Dutcher
When Jeremy Dutcher released "Honor Song" in 2017, it was a revelation. A gorgeous reimagining of a traditional Mi'kmaq honour song, the track fused Dutcher's operatic tenor with strings, piano, hand drum and electronics for a stirring and contemporary work. This year Dutcher has returned to the song, this time with renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma for a collaboration that the Tobique First Nation artist says changed his life. "I'm so grateful to [Yo-Yo Ma] for sharing his platform and allowing so many more people to hear our songs and languages! Music brings the whole world together like nothing else," he said via Instagram. Ma's cello brings a new weight to the piece, and it's as if the two artists — cello and voice at the fore — were always meant to stand together. — Holly Gordon
'Clean Break,' Brittany Kennell
Montreal-based country artist Brittany Kennell describes her long-awaited debut release as a "happy breakup album." Its light and playful tone is the result of Kennell having some distance from the breakup that inspired her songs, as she told the Montreal Gazette: "By the time I was writing the album I was in such a happy place. I was just grateful and thankful for the way things turned around for me."
In contrast to fellow country star Kacey Musgraves' recent grief-stricken divorce album, Star-Crossed, Kennell's I Ain't a Saint benefits from a healthy dose of humour and an ability to succinctly capture feelings of heartbreak in witty wordplay and an upbeat kick. Many of the best examples are Kennell's singles: "Eat Drink Remarry," "You Don't get me Stoned" and the lowkey song of the summer, "Bought the T-Shirt." But the album's penultimate track, "Clean Break," pulls a similar trick, focusing on the first word of the popular phrase to paint a vivid picture of someone who uses cleaning and household chores as a distraction. "It's amazing what you can get done when you don't wanna think about someone," Kennell sings on its chorus. Next time you feel the urge to grab a sponge or a mop, motivated by heartbreak or not, we recommend adding this track to your cleaning playlist. — Melody Lau
'I Already Love You,' Le Ren
There are many folk and country revivalists out there, but few are playing so authentically and unembellished within those genres that they make you think twice about what decade their new song comes from. Take Montreal singer-songwriter Le Ren and her blend of gospel-swaying country and, in the case of "I Already Love You," sweet, softhearted folk that wraps you in warmth like a coming-of-age Joni Mitchell ballad. And a coming-of-age ballad this is; Le Ren, real name Lauren Spear, is singing about the prospect of motherhood. "As I get older, I find myself contemplating motherhood," she says. "'I Already Love You' was written for a possible future." Whatever Le Ren's future might look like, its brightness is certain. — Jess Huddleston
'Laced,' Mind Bath
Montreal artist Mind Bath has returned with more of his tantalizing, left-field R&B. "Laced" is a sultry track, with the strain of heated tension simmering just below the surface. In a PR statement, Mind Bath said, "'Laced' is what it sounds like to fantasize about somebody. I wasn't having sex for a while, which was sexy, and that energy found its way out in some of the new music." It opens with a dawn chorus of birds, a motif that returns multiple times to bring a bit of ethereal levity to a song that's raunchier than it appears on the surface. The production is subdued and mellow in contrast to the lyrics. Look no further than the cheeky first line: "Babe come inside, pull your shorts to the side, it's been a minute." As the chorus comes in and he repeats "Can I put it on you," his pleading voice drips with the trepidation of being reacquainted with an old lover. — Kelsey Adams
'Say it out Loud,' Neon Dreams feat. Mthandazo Gatya
Neon Dreams, the Canadian pop-rock duo of Frank Kadillac and Adrian Morris, got a big boost in 2020, not only when they were named breakthrough group of the year at the Juno Awards, but also when their song "Life Without Fantasies" suddenly and unexpectedly rose to the top of South Africa's streaming charts. "Sometimes music just needs to find the right home," reacted Kadillac at the time. They've since toured South Africa, with stops in most major cities, and the latest manifestation of their affinity with the country is "Say it out Loud," a collaboration with South African singer-songwriter Mthandazo Gatya, who sings a mix of Zulu and English on the record. It's a stirring, inspirational anthem reminiscent of '80s-era U2, and the video shines a light on the Justice Desk, a non-profit organisation based in Cape Town that focuses on human rights education, children's rights, and eradicating gender-based violence. — RR