Kathleen Edwards, Mustafa, Swagger Rite and more: songs you need to hear this week
5 fresh Canadian tracks to add to your playlist right now
Each week, CBC Music producers come together to highlight Canada's best new tracks.
This week we got hooked on new songs from Kathleen Edwards, JP Saxe, Swagger Rite, Mustafa featuring James Blake, and Busty and the Bass featuring Macy Gray. Scroll down to find out why you need to hear them, too.
What new Canadian tunes are you currently obsessed with? Share them with us on Twitter @CBCMusic.
'Come Back,' Mustafa feat. James Blake
"Come Back" marks the second collaboration between Toronto poet and songwriter Mustafa and British artist James Blake. In the video for this new track, Blake is sitting at a piano, kicking off the song's main refrain pleading for someone to return, while Mustafa stands behind him silently soaking in the words and the sunlight beaming through the studio's window. The song is as simple as that, and its pared down production makes it all the more powerful when the two singers come together in harmony, softly singing, "Please come back/ at least in my dreams."
"Come Back," as Mustafa notes in a statement, was released on the second anniversary of Toronto rapper Smoke Dawg's death. "I pray the people you lost come back to you in the form that heals you best," he wrote. "If not a memory, a dream, if not a dream, in their siblings' eyes, if not that, then in the way you carry yourself." This song is a stunning tribute that packs an emotional gut-punch; it may not heal you completely, but it certainly eases the pain. — Melody Lau
'Hard on Everyone,' Kathleen Edwards
The time between making the decision to leave and finally making it out the door is different for everybody. Kathleen Edwards' new song, "Hard on Everyone," is a version of what it looked and sounded like for her. "This song is me waking the f--k up. And exiting. Written on the floor of my empty house after leaving a bad situation," Edwards wrote on Twitter. And there is something defiant and urgent in the guitars moving under Edwards' words. Her vocal delivery, which on many of her most beloved songs is often edged with a wry wisdom, is different here; she's in dialogue with whomever was part of her bad situation, but she's also in dialogue with herself. Edwards is making space for her anger toward this other person, but it never consumes her because it sounds like she's also operating from a place of much-deserved compassion for herself. Boundaries are hard on everyone, and leaving is sometimes the hardest, bravest boundary of all. — Andrea Warner
'Sticky,' Swagger Rite
Toronto rapper Swagger Rite has been making a lot of noise for a couple years now, and released his major label debut, The Swagged Out Pedestrian, in 2019. He's become known for his high energy and trap-influenced sound, but on his latest release, he shows off his softer, slower side. On "Sticky," we see Swagger reflecting on violence in the city, as well as his upbringing in the Jane and Weston area. "Growing up in the slums in these cold streets, public housing rats and roaches, plus there's no heat," he sings through Auto-Tune. It's a side of Swagger we haven't seen before, and shows that the artist is just as comfortable making a ballad as he is a banger, all while keeping to the vivid street scenes he's built his career on. "Cause it's real when you living in the field," he sings. "You either make it, go to jail, or you get killed." — Jesse Kinos-Goodin
'Hey Stupid, I Love You,' JP Saxe
JP Saxe is a self-described "over-feeler, over-thinker and over-sharer," and that's what makes his effusive, emotionally vulnerable songs so irresistible. That, and his unpretentious, conversational style of singing. "If somebody wants more love from you, turns out its a lot easier to just give it to them, than to convince them they don't need it," he explained on Facebook, introducing his new single, "Hey Stupid, I Love You." Restrained production keeps the focus on the lyrics, as Saxe articulates the insecurities we all feel from time to time — "I just wish you could lean in and kiss me/ Say nothing's wrong, tell me to settle down" — and, let's be honest, make us feel a bit stupid. — Robert Rowat
'Out of Love,' Busty and the Bass feat. Macy Gray
Four years ago, Montreal band Busty and the Bass covered Macy Gray's "I Try," adding their own DIY flair to the soulful classic. Fast forward to 2020 and things have come full circle: the two artists have come together on a new track titled "Out of Love." Whereas "I Try" is a song about feeling stuck and unable to let go of someone, "Out of Love" is begging for a relationship to dissolve. "I just wanna come out and say I'm sick of waiting," singer Nick Ferraro kicks off, adding, "I just wanna hear that it's over now." Gray's signature raspy vocals effortlessly blend on the second verse as she echoes the exhaustion. "Drop the ball and hope I make the call but those signs are just a waste on me," Gray coos over the track's sparkling disco-inspired production and bright horns. "Out of Love" may sound breezy, making it an ideal summer jam, but simmering underneath is a burning desire to move on. — ML