Spring 2023 album guide: 16 new releases you need to hear
Featuring music from Feist, Daniel Caesar, Kx5, William Prince, Jayda G and Vivek Shraya
As spring blooms and winter thaws, the longer days mean just one thing: more time to listen to new music!
There's the long-awaited return of indie pop icon Feist, the first joint effort from EDM superstars Deadmau5 and Kaskade, dazzling debuts from Debby Friday and Höhn, and new releases from beloved favourites like singer-songwriter William Prince, jazz vocalists Dee Daniels and Denzel Sinclaire, and R&B singer-songwriter Daniel Caesar, plus so much more.
Scroll down to check out CBC Music's list of the albums we're most looking forward to this spring, as well as a few rumoured releases for which we can't help but be hyped.
Release date: March 17
It was a year ago that legendary DJs Deadmau5 and Kaskade teamed up like Voltron to form a super duo known as Kx5. They released a series of singles including "Alive," which was tapped as one of the best tracks of the year by EDM.com. In addition to that success, their second ever show at EDC Las Vegas set a record in North America as the "largest single-day concert headlined by an electronic music artist." Rumours of an album were confirmed earlier this year with a drop date of March 17. It will include the duo's latest single, "Sacrifice," featuring Sofi Tukker (a.k.a. Sophie Hawley-Weld), a throwback to late '90s/early aughts techno anthems. The track is a banger that leans into realtalk with lyrics including: "Do I love what I do even more than I love you? I might." It's a sentiment that hits you in the feels thanks to Hawley-Weld's haunting voice. With additional collabs featuring Elderbrook, Hayla, and the Moth and the Flame, expect this album to hit as hard as five mighty lions forming into one giant robot defending the universe. — Ben Aylsworth
Artist: Debby Friday
Album: Good Luck
Release date: March 24
Debby Friday's Good Luck is a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart, it hits you squarely in the chest and demands you tune in with every ounce of your being. The debut album follows Friday's previously released mixtapes, BITCHPUNK (2018) and Death Drive (2019), that introduced her to listeners as an artist unafraid to push at the seams of conventionality. Friday was born in Nigeria and grew up in Montreal, where she eventually discovered the city's rave culture, a formative inspiration for her burgeoning artistic expression. After emerging from a phase of excessive hedonism that turned dark, she became sober and moved across the country to Vancouver for an MFA. In her insular art practice she found solace and rebalanced herself. The results of her innerwork are a running theme throughout all of Good Luck, as she belts on the opening track: "You better build yourself up, buttercup."
On the album, industrial sludge, hardcore, acid house, hyperpop, electro and alt-R&B become a cacophonous feast. Throughout the 10 tracks, co-produced by Friday and Graham Walsh, there is zero filler. It's rare for an entire album to command attention like this, and the dexterity of Friday's voice plays an integral role. From a screeching howl to a soft and effervescent lilt, from a braggadocious bark to a spectral and hollow wisp, she contorts her voice to portray her shifting emotions. Whether it's cocksure and self-assured on "I Got It" featuring Uñas or gentle and reticent on "So Hard to Tell," her voice's flexibility is enthralling. Good Luck will be released with a short film of the same name that Friday co-directed with Nathan De Paz Habib and starred in. She's building a whole world, one that you can't help but become fully immersed in. — Kelsey Adams
Artist: Logan Staats
Album: A Light in the Attic
Release date: March 24
Another cheap hotel,
Another book beside the bed.
Should I pick it up,
Or should I light a cigarette?
I think I'll light my cigarette.
There's an ache in Logan Staats's voice as he opens the first verse on "Holy Man," the second single from his upcoming album, A Light in the Attic. He strums his guitar, the weight of decision hanging in the space between each line, his warm voice hugging the sharp edges. "This album is the soundtrack to picking yourself up, and dusting yourself off," says the Mohawk singer-songwriter. "There is sweet grass and tobacco in every chord, there is sage and cedar in every falsetto, every song is my medicine."
When Staats won first place on reality music tv show The Launch in 2018, it led him to larger cities and more travel, a whirlwind of a time that he bookended with a move back to Six Nations of the Grand River, rooting himself in his hometown. "I wanted to bring my songwriting back to the medicine inside of music, to the medicine inside of reclamation," he says. On A Light in the Attic, Staats lets us in on years of work, both external and internal, exposing the interconnected threads of intergenerational trauma, recovery from addiction and heartbreak. On his second album, and first in eight years, Staats sounds stronger than ever. — Holly Gordon
Release date: March 31
Höhn is the new solo project of Eric Haynes, best known as the keyboardist of Montreal-based soul collective Busty and the Bass (which also has a new album coming out this spring). For his debut, Haynes presents seven songs made entirely from field recordings gathered during his travels through remote locations in Alberta and Quebec. "I want to remind listeners that everyday sounds are art in and of themselves," he said via press release. Rippling streams, insects, birdsong and crashing waves become the building blocks of a techno/electronic fusion that "puts a piece of the planet in your pocket with bass-bumping vigour." For lead single "Egypt Lake," whose namesake is in the heart of the Rockies, Haynes uses water-based samples to transport you "to a sunset rave beside a favourite body of water." — Robert Rowat
Artist: Daniel Caesar
Album: Never Enough
Release date: April 7
When Daniel Caesar performed at Coachella last year, it appeared that the Toronto R&B sensation was ready to unveil a new chapter of music. Onstage, he premiered "Please do not Lean," a slinky new single featuring longtime collaborators BadBadNotGood, signalling a more mature turn while still employing a grooving R&B sound that fans would recognize and love. But months rolled by and as we neared the end of 2022, there were no further announcements of new music from Caesar. Fear not, though: that wait is now almost over with Caesar's third full-length, Never Enough, finally coming out on April 7. So far, two singles have been released — "Do you Like Me?" and "Let me Go" — the former expanding on the Toronto artist's sound by bringing in a bouncing funk rhythm, while the latter builds atop his signature intimate, acoustic, guitar-based soundscapes. Whether you're searching for the comfort of Caesar's established balladry or hoping to find him exploring new sonic territory, Never Enough promises to offer something for everyone. — Melody Lau
Artist: Nico Paulo
Release date: April 7
That Nico Paulo's upcoming album begins with birdsong and her gentle, wordless accompaniment is the perfect once-upon-a-time opening for a project that unfurls as a chaptered journey — sometimes joyful, sometimes bittersweetly reminiscent, eyes always fixed on the horizon. "Time was never easy on you/ time was never easy on me, too," sings the Portuguese, St. John's-based artist on the album's second single, "Time," her voice its own form of travel, transporting us to the free-spiritedness of Laurel Canyon, or, more recently, early era Feist. But before she gets too melancholy, Paulo switches gears and asks, "Have you ever thought of dancing?," her tone playful and teasing. Paulo, who moved from Portugal to Toronto in 2014 and eventually made her way east to call it home, recorded her debut EP on Nova Scotia's south shore with producer/percussionist Joshua Van Tassel, and with co-production by Tim Baker. There's a buoyant spirit to her voice, and she fills her songs with it. Even on breakup/ultimatum track "Now or Never," Paulo's sound and composition find a space that's endlessly optimistic, without feeling overly earnest or gullible. There is a nuance, vulnerability and light to the singer's work that is irresistible, and on this self-titled debut, she takes flight. — HG
Artist: Ottawa Bach Choir, Lisette Canton
Album: J.S. Bach: 6 Motets
Release date: April 14
After winning a Juno Award in 2020 for their album Handel: Dixit Dominus; Bach & Schütz: Motets, the Ottawa Bach Choir and Lisette Canton are back with the complete motets of J.S. Bach. They're "among the greatest achievements of choral polyphony and form the pinnacle of the genre," says Canton, who travelled to Germany with her choir last June to walk in Bach's footsteps and perform at Bachfest Leipzig. Ahead of that pilgrimage, and once pandemic restrictions allowed it, they recorded Bach's six motets with a stellar continuo section: Jonathan Oldengarm (organ), Jean-Christophe Lizotte (cello), Reuven Rothman (double bass), Matthew Larkin (harpsichord) and Lucas Harris (theorbo). Expect to hear brisk tempi, clean vocal lines and the genuine joy that comes from serving this ingenious music. — RR
Artist: William Prince
Album: Stand in the Joy
Release date: April 14
The familiar warmth of William Prince's voice is a hug from the person who loves you best, a smile from a stranger at your loneliest moment, a fire that will not go out as you and your friends laugh and talk until the moonlight calls you home. On his fourth release, Stand in the Joy, Prince makes space for darkness but as the title indicates, the singer-songwriter from Peguis First Nation is ready to revel in his blessings — not the least of which is the record's inspiration, his fiancée, Alyshia Grace, who provides backing vocals throughout and also appears with Prince on the cover.
"This record acknowledges pain but does not give it power," Prince said in a press release. "What I hope comes through are feelings of love, peace and strength. The strength to stand in the goodness of what you have, rather than sit in what you have lost." Among the standout tracks are album opener, "When You Miss Someone," which perfectly evokes the quiet ache and sweet melancholy of remembering someone loved and lost, while "Goldie Hawn" unfolds like the perfect love letter: intimate, playful and reverential without placing its subject on an objectifying pedestal. Stand in the Joy is a radiant declaration of gratitude and further proof that Prince is one of the greatest singer-songwriters of his generation. — Andrea Warner
Release date: April 14
On the thunderous opening moments of Feist's sixth studio album, Multitudes, the Canadian singer-songwriter sings of lightning as a source of illumination and revelation, a force of nature that thrusts truths both ugly and beautiful into the fore. For an artist who is often most comfortable operating in the shadows and couching some of her deepest emotions in sumptuous metaphors, Multitudes is potentially Feist at her barest. On the stripped-down "Hiding out in the Open," her words cut straight to the bone, kicking off with a brutal confrontation: "Everybody's got their shit/ who's got the gut to sit with it?" Feist's time in lockdown during the pandemic, a time in which she welcomed a daughter and unexpectedly lost her father, shaped much of this album. "It became a chance to find footing on more honest ground," she said in a press release, "when the effort to maintain altitude actually took more effort than just handing ourselves over to the truth." Completed in a converted barn in Big Sur with the help of old collaborators (producers Robbie Lackritz and Mocky; longtime friend Chilly Gonzales) and new (multi-instrumentalists Gabe Noel and Shahzad Ismaily), Feist's first album in six years is guaranteed to be one of the biggest Canadian releases of the year. — ML
Album: Birds, Bees, the Clouds & the Trees
Release date: April 28
After several EPs and two albums, electronic producer and composer Harrison continues his track record of playful, jazzy, R&B-infused songs on his whimsical and aptly titled album Birds, Bees, the Clouds & the Trees. The lush release is an extension of the rich textures he cultivated on previously released singles: the bouncy track "Outta This World" with rapper Tobi, and the hazy, Kadhja Bonet-assisted "Float." Listeners can get swept away in the blissful instrumental tracks that make up the bulk of the album, but those itching for some groovy hip-hop will also enjoy "Bump," a piano-driven standout that features rappers MED and Guilty Simpson. Each song has a cheerful, carefree air that translates perfectly to the quirky, cartoonish illustrations in the accompanying music videos. The dreamy melodies and crackling background noises give the project a retro feel, transporting listeners to an ethereal soundscape. It's a perfect soundtrack for sun-dappled spring days. — Natalie Harmsen
Artist: Witch Prophet
Album: Gateway Experience
Release date: May 1
Witch Prophet's projects are always deeply personal affairs and Gateway Experience is no exception. Following 2020's DNA Activation (which was an exploration of her Ethiopian and Eritrean roots, with each song named after her family members) this album highlights her experience with temporal lobe epilepsy and focal seizures. "I've focused my third album on the connection between epilepsy and spiritual experiences. From psychic seizures, auras, out of body experiences, to hallucinations, lucid dreaming and memory loss," she wrote to CBC Music over email. Each track is devoted to a different experience, "Memory" featuring Begonia captures the disorienting feeling of not remembering what happened after an episode: "Wake up in a cold sweat, oftentimes I wonder where I am."
There's an improvisational quality to the instrumentation, with resonant layered vocals, old school hip hop kick drums, and jazzy trumpets that trail off on their own journeys, that adds to the sense of feeling unmoored. Her wife and musical partner SUN SUN produced the album and it features more collaborations from Dillanponders, Zaki Ibrahim, Sate, and Junia T. On Gateway Experience, her soulful vocals are spellbinding as ever, as she candidly takes listeners through the different ways her seizures influence her daily life. — KA
Artist: Boogey the Beat
Release date: May 12
Boogey the Beat's upcoming full-length album, Cousins, features a who's who of high-profile guests and collaborators, and a sprawling sonic landscape that layers hip-hop, underground dance, electro-soul, techno, powwow drums, traditional songs and pop. Over 12 tracks, DJ and producer Boogey the Beat, who is Anishinaabe, brings out rap heavyweights including Drezus on the electrifying "Tapwe," and T. Rhyme and Eekwol on the joyous, fist-pumping title track, alongside newer sensations like Snotty Nose Rez Kids (featured on two tracks, including the witty banger "Run for Cover") and Mob Bounce's heartfelt crowd-pleaser "Way Up." Boogey the Beat also showcases emerging soul and pop singer-songwriter Sebastian Gaskin on the slinky, sexy "Higher," as well as traditional acts like Winnipeg women's drum group Southern Thunderbird Medicine Drum, legendary powwow and round dance drum and singing group Northern Cree, and Grammy- and Juno Award-nominated singing group Young Spirit. The result is an explosive and expansive musical triptych — past, present and future — of incredible artists in conversation with each other in a whole new way thanks to the wild imagination and talents of Boogey the Beat. — Andrea Warner.
Artist: Vivek Shraya
Album: Baby, You're Projecting
Release date: May 12
After 20 years of releasing music independently, Vivek Shraya is making her label debut this year with Baby, You're Projecting via the B.C.-based Mint Records. Co-written and produced by James Bunton (Ohbijou, Donovan Woods), Shraya's first release — one not tied to another project like a book or theatrical project — since 2017's Polaris Music Prize-nominated Part Time Woman is ambitious. But the bigger the vision, the more Shraya often thrives. On Baby, You're Projecting, Shraya uses a break-up to explore her tenuous relationships with men; musically, she set out to make a "genre-fluid album," as she described via press release, employing sounds from hip-hop, country, pop and dance music to create something both varied yet still cohesive. While lead single "Good Luck (You're F--ked)," is a pitch-perfect, disco-tinged kiss-off, other tracks like "I Miss my Friends" and "Colonizer" are more stripped-down numbers that leave space for Shraya's truth and vulnerability to shine through. No matter the medium — Baby, You're Projecting is also being co-released with a 12-minute short film — Shraya proves here that she continues to be one of the country's best storytellers. — ML
Artist: Nonso Amadi
Album: When it Blooms
Release date: May 26
In 2016, Nonso Amadi became a rising star with his first hit single, "Tonight," a lovey-dovey melodic track that's amassed more than 11 million streams on Spotify. Instead of immediately capitalizing on its success by jumping to put out an album, Amadi bided his time — he hit pause on releasing music with a hiatus in 2019 that lasted three years. And now, the moment is right: his debut album, When it Blooms, is a culmination of the lessons learned in that period, resulting in Afrobeat-tinged, soulful songs that honour Amadi's Nigerian heritage and also embrace the sounds of contemporary R&B.
Listeners get a full picture of exactly who Amadi is on When it Blooms because each track is a personal vignette: "Ease Up" highlights the fight for social justice in Nigeria, while "Different" details the highs and lows of falling in love. Combining hip-swaying rhythms with lyrics that simmer with lust, Amadi uses his smooth vocals to draw listeners in, creating songs that fit the vibe of both a packed dance floor and a steamy night in the bedroom. — NH
Artist: Dee Daniels, Denzal Sinclaire
Album: Let it Shine! Let it Shine!
Release date: June 9
Here's an album of spirituals and hymns from the African American and African Canadian traditions, viewed through a jazz lens. After having success singing these songs as encores during their joint concerts, vocalists Dee Daniels and Denzal Sinclaire hit OCL Studios in Langdon, Alta., to record a full album with an outstanding group of musicians who're "familiar with the context of doing hymns and spirituals," as Daniels puts it in the promotional material: Herlin Riley (drums), Isaiah J. Thompson (piano), Bobby Floyd (organ) along with an all-Canadian horn section. John Clayton did triple duty as bassist, arranger and producer, and the tracks released so far sound fabulous. Each vocalist does four solo songs, and then come together for four duets. "Hair-raising," is how Clayton described his experience in the studio. — RR
Artist: Jayda G
Release date: June 9
Jayda G knows how to get a party started. Her disco- R&B- and soul-inflected house music has earned her Grammy and Juno nominations, and she's an in-demand DJ and producer. But Jayda G is also a singer, songwriter and electronic musician, and her new album, Guy, offers the most full-spectrum flex of her artistry to date. It's also her most personal effort so far. The title is a tribute to her late father, William Richard Guy, who died when Jayda G was 10 years old. Interweaving archival audio (he made more than 11 hours of recordings before he passed), she crafts a narrative informed by her father's experiences as a young, African American man growing up in the United States.
Though the record deals with heavy subject matter, Jayda G always finds the light and makes the beats irresistibly bouncy, like the propulsive first single, "Circle Back Around." According to the album press release, the song was partly informed by Guy's run-ins with neighbourhood bullies, and harassment from local police and other authority figures. Jayda G digs into the multilayered meaning of the song title (are the cops circling back around? Are the kids? Is she referencing the way history keeps repeating itself with police brutality and anti-Blackness?) by crafting swirling, relentless rhythms that circle back on each other. G also takes care to make space for herself and her own grief throughout, especially on the shimmering, soulful "Sapphires of Gold." Guy is a more pop-forward release than we've heard from Jayda G before, and her voice — literally and lyrically — takes a more prominent place, too. The result is an album with endless revelations no matter how many times you take it for a spin around the dance floor. — Andrea Warner
Artist: Haviah Mighty
Release date: TBA
At the start of 2023, Juno-winning rapper Haviah Mighty released "Room Service," which detailed a relationship that had reached its expiry date. The song has set the tone for more heartbreak-driven tracks on her forthcoming album. — NH
Album: Nav 2
Release date: Late spring
It hasn't even been a year since the release of the star-studded Demons Protected by Angels, but Nav 2, the upcoming album that was written and produced entirely by the chart-topping rapper, will arrive in late spring. — NH
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