The Weeknd, Orville Peck and more: songs you need to hear this week

4 fresh Canadian tunes to add to your playlist right now.

4 fresh Canadian tunes to add to your playlist right now

Canadian artist Orville Peck celebrated the 1-year anniversary of his album Pony on March 23 by giving fans a live-streamed performance. (Orville Peck/Facebook)

Each week, CBC Music producers come together to highlight Canada's best new tracks.

This week, we got hooked on new songs from the Weeknd, Sarah Harmer, Ada Lea and a touching cover by Orville Peck. 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.

'Hardest to Love,' the Weeknd

Being in a relationship with Abel Tesfaye isn't easy and he knows it. The Toronto R&B star behind the Weeknd moniker has built a career off playing tug-of-war with women's hearts: one minute longing for intimacy, the next proclaiming to be "heartless." On "Hardest to Love," Tesfaye reunites with "Can't Feel My Face" hitmaker Max Martin for another pop highlight on the Weeknd's latest album, After Hours. Whereas their breakout collaboration drew on '80s Michael Jackson flourishes to stake Tesfaye's spot in the mainstream, "Hardest to Love" adapts a '90s drum 'n' bass sound as the canvas for Tesfaye's reflections on past relationships. The chorus relishes in the push-and-pull tension of the rhythm as Tesfaye acknowledges the end of yet another romance, telling his subject, "It's hard to let me go." 

— Melody Lau 

'Islands in the Stream' (Kenny Rogers cover), Orville Peck

Orville Peck celebrated the one-year anniversary of Pony, his debut and Juno-nominated album, on March 23 with a solo acoustic live stream, and about halfway through he paid tribute to the late Kenny Rogers by singing "Islands in the Stream," the country star's 1983 duet with Dolly Parton. "I wanted to do a Kenny song and this is one of my all-time favourite country duets," Peck said. "I hope I don't screw it up, but sing along at home OK?" Peck's Elvis-like croon handles the song beautifully, though we do hope for a duet with a partner in the future. Check out his performance around the 39-minute mark. 

— Holly Gordon

'Perfect World,' Ada Lea

The perfect world Ada Lea describes in the opening lines is meant to feel miles away, a reflection of the past. But after the past couple of weeks, the line, "Where every headline reads 'we laughed about it,'" suddenly feels light-years away. "Perfect World" is washed over with a palpable, aching sense of melancholy and a yearning for better times even if the Montreal singer-songwriter's voice remains resolute. Where her emotions do show some cracks of weariness is in the instrumentation: halfway through the track, an electric guitar strikes like thunder and soon Lea's voice fades and comes roaring back in a low rumble that is quickly consumed by static, drums and an outro that provides a brief but needed catharsis. — ML

'St. Peter's Bay,' Sarah Harmer

The opening track to Sarah Harmer's newest album, Are you Gone, is a gentle ode to the end of a relationship — one that, if you close your eyes, will transport you to the ice on which Harmer and her former partner used to skate. It's fitting, then, that the singer and filmmaker Josh Lyon hopped a ferry to one of Ontario's Thousand Islands in the middle of winter to film the video. 

"For me this story takes place in a simpler time, when word was sent 'on the wires of woodsmoke' and ice was sure to freeze from one shore to another," Harmer said via press release. "The pain of ending a relationship is familiar in any era, and the vastness of the landscape in the middle of the river speaks to that timelessness." As Harmer walks alone on the ice, wistfully looking to her side, it's the perfect imagery for lines like "I couldn't get the fire of my faith in us/ warm enough to comfort your cold feet." — HG


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