Leonard Cohen, PartyNextDoor and more: songs you need to hear this week
5 fresh 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 PartyNextDoor featuring Drake, Tommy Genesis, Pierre Kwenders and Uproot Andy, as well as a double dose of Leonard Cohen: one from his recently released posthumous album and another a cover by sister trio Haim. 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.
'Loyal,' PartyNextDoor feat. Drake
With the exception of a few guest spots, OVO Sound signee PartyNextDoor has been largely absent for the past two years. With news that his third studio album is set to drop in January, the Mississauga songwriter is capping 2019 off with a couple of teasers for what's to come. On "Loyal," he reunites with OVO leader Drake for a dreamy ode to steadfast partners. Over a low-key dancehall beat, the two take turns cooing the phrase "You're my best friend" in all its Auto-Tune glory. While both artists have put out their fair share of anti-love and commitment anthems over the years, it's hard not to fall for the sincerity (whether it's performative or not) of "Loyal."
— Melody Lau
'Thanks for the Dance,' Leonard Cohen
Nov. 22 saw the release of Leonard Cohen's posthumous album, Thanks for the Dance, a nine-track project meticulously produced by his son, Adam Cohen. While posthumous albums often feel like a gamble, Adam anchored the album around Leonard's gravelly baritone, taken from sessions for his final album, 2016's You Want it Darker. The result is part love letter to, and elegy from, Leonard, the singer's words and voice always at centre stage.
While there's a lot to dig through — the song "Moving On," with vocals recorded just after Leonard's former partner, Marianne Ihlen, died, is particularly moving — no song more perfectly captures Leonard's spirit than the title track, as the singer looks back at his full life with a spring in his step. "Thanks for the dance/ and the baby you carried/ it was almost a daughter or son," Leonard reminisces matter-of-factly over longtime collaborator Javier Mas's Spanish laud, possibly referring to the child he and Ihlen did not have. But this isn't the time for heavy hearts; it's a time for making peace: "Thank for the dance/ it was hell/ it was swell/ it was fun," he continues. As Leonard counts off his waltz one last time, gorgeous backing vocals from Jennifer Warnes and Feist take you by the hand and lift you into the song's step, twirling in celebration instead of sadness.
— Holly Gordon
'Gbadolite,' Pierre Kwenders and Uproot Andy
Gbadolite is a city in the Democratic Republic of Congo that Montreal artist Pierre Kwenders remembers as "a city full of potential and growth during Mobutu's reign, but lost everything and had become a bit of a ghost town since Mobutu's departure." On Kwenders and Brooklyn DJ Uproot Andy's latest track, though, the duo pays tribute to the city by reviving its bright and beautiful spirit, infusing the song with a liveliness that illustrates the joy that once ran through Gbadolite's streets. Using Congolese rumba and with Kwenders singing in Lingala, "Ghadolite," is an exuberant celebration of the African diaspora, a pure slice of sunshine from one of Canada's most vivid performers. — ML
'If it be Your Will,' Haim (Leonard Cohen cover)
You'd be forgiven for thinking Haim's song "Hallelujah," released last week, was a Leonard Cohen cover, but that was actually an original track from the sister trio about their bond as siblings. Five days later, though, on the day that Cohen's posthumous album, Thanks for the Dance, came out, Danielle, Este and Alana Haim dropped "If it be Your Will," recorded for Yo La Tengo's Hanukkah+ album. While the 1984 Cohen classic has been heavily covered, the Haim sisters' rendition doesn't feel like excess: Danielle's voice floats atop that familiar acoustic guitar, with Este and Alana adding harmonies to the vocal echo that make for a haunting, sombre effect. As we mark three years since Cohen's death, listening to Haim's delicate version of "If it be Your Will" feels the perfect act of remembrance. — HG
'Cinderelly,' Tommy Genesis
Early Disney films promoted the idea that every princess needs a prince, but in 2019, Tommy Genesis is here to tell you: "We don't need a prince/ everybody rich." The Vancouver rapper's latest single, "Cinderelly," is a punchy two-minute mantra that subverts fairytale concepts and celebrates women who are supporting themselves. "Cinderelly/ glass ceiling to the floor/ slow-motion down the pole/ she ain't really have no soul," Tommy Genesis spits over a glossy beat. Unless you're actual royalty, there's no point in aspiring to become a princess and prince. "Cinderelly" affirms that it's better to strive to become the "baddest bitch" instead. — ML