Jill Barber, Hannah Georgas and more: Songs you need to hear this week
Each week, CBC Music producers come together to highlight Canada's best new tracks.
This week, we have songs from Hannah Georgas, Jill Barber, Jessie Reyez, Arkells and Safe. Scroll down to find out why you need to hear them.
What are the Canadian tunes you're currently obsessed with? Share them with us on Twitter @CBCMusic.
'Girl's Gotta Do', Jill Barber
Longtime fans of Jill Barber will inevitably hear "Girl's Gotta Do", the first single from her upcoming album Metaphora, and think, "Whoa, unexpected." Contemporary pop sounds layered over a really fun, dance-around-your-apartment beat, and a chorus begging to be sung along with. Barber, who is known for traversing folk, jazz and R&B has touched upon pop in the past, but never waded in quite this far. However, this is all part of the plan.
Co-writing with Mother Mother's Ryan Guldemond (who happens to be her neighbour), Barber is purposely trying to break out of genre limitations which were starting to feel artistically restrictive. All this coincided with her desire to write a song that could break "[the] silence over my own complacency around the power imbalances that exist in the music industry, a traditionally male arena." If that sounds somewhat heavy, bear in mind this is a pop song so this message sneaks in the back door while you sing along to some deliciously fun lyrics: "Give advice, like a man/ Don't think twice, like a man/ Don't play nice, like a man." This is a bold new direction, and it works.
— Mark Macarthur
'No Answer', Safe
"No Answer" is the latest and best track so far from next gen R&B artist Safe, a.k.a. Saif Musaad. We love the realness of his lyrics ("Why do I try to keep us together/ knowing I could do better") and his laid-back delivery, not to mention that icy, impossibly youthful voice. With production that's understated but concise, the downtown Toronto native has apparently hit his stride and got us impatient for his first EP.
— Robert Rowat
Editor's note: strong language warning
'Love Me Still', BLVK JVCK feat. Jessie Reyez
Jessie Reyez got her big break with "Figures", an acoustic number that circles around a "shitty breakup" where the Canadian singer-songwriter is fed up. On "Love me Still", a track by L.A./Miami production duo BLVK JVCK featuring Reyez as the lead vocalist, the recent Juno Award winner brings a similar sentiment: "Don't pull me down with these games/ I'd rather be flying." Over finger snaps and a blaring horn rhythm, Reyez still shows a sense of skepticism but instead of wanting to inflict pain on her partner, she's pleading for him to "show me pieces of your heart" in a more hushed, vulnerable tone.
It's a testament to Reyez's incredible musicality that she is often able to approach an emotion from so many different angles, each time dazzling listeners in a new and unexpected way. Whether she's on her own or jumping on other artists' tracks, as she has in recent years with Calvin Harris and Russ, Reyez is always front and center with her heart on her sleeve and an undeniable melody in tow.
— Melody Lau
'Bad Reputation (Joan Jett cover)', Hannah Georgas
Hannah Georgas has reimagined Joan Jett's punk rock classic "Bad Reputation" as part of the new Freaks and Geeks documentary that opened last weekend at the Tribeca Film Festival. On this new spin, Jett's growling guitars and vocals are swapped for a stripped-down approach that highlights Georgas' breathtaking coo and ambient piano. Even after a laid-back beat is ushered in midway through, the song maintains an air of quiet that perfectly underscores the defiant message.
— Jess Huddleston
'People's Champ', Arkells
Call-and-response lyrics, upbeat guitar riffs, and searing censure make Arkells' latest release, "People's Champ", a top contender for the title of 2018's protest song of the year. Following last year's highly successful "Knocking at the Door", Arkells appear to have drawn musical inspiration once again from the current political climate. The Hamilton band teamed up with their tried-and-true producer, Eric Katz, to create this anthem, which doesn't shy away from telling it like it is.
Speaking in the second person, they call out an unnamed (but implied) offender, stating, "You've got the world at your fingertips/ And now you have it crumbling/ …You
do nothing every year/ But you're showin' up on the read carpet." Clearly, Arkells isn't buying the all showboating sans action from the current officeholders and they aren't afraid to let them know it.
— Buhlebenkosi Chinhara