Artist: Joanna Drummond
Album: Songs For Mother’s Day
Genre: Folk, Americana, Singer-Songwriter, Earthy Celtic Pop
Sounds Like: Joni Mitchell, Sara McLaughlin, Norah Jones, Dido, Indigo Girls
Joanna Drummond is a folk singer-songwriter from Calgary with a clear, compelling soprano voice, and beautifully written, thoughtful lyrics. Her songs can feel like old folk songs written in a different world, and yet also speak vividly about the times that we are living in. Though Joanna began in classical music, with a B.A. In Music from the University of Calgary and a background in operatic training, she has chosen to leave opera entirely behind and turn her instrument towards folk music. She is drawn towards folk music because of its intimacy and simplicity, the way that often just one instrument and one voice can be enough, the power of words working together with melody. She counts Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Ani DiFranco and Amelia Curran among her main influences. And now she is releasing her second album, on April 18 at the National Music Centre. Songs for Mother’s Day is written to be a gift for mothers. The songs on this album are inspired by the intimacies and struggles that women sometimes share with each other, and sometimes face alone. They are drawn from the playground chat, the daily pressures, the quiet desires and the purest of joys. And even though each woman’s story is different, there are ways that motherhood can bring women together. So with that in mind Songs for Mother’s Day brings together a group of featured artists who are all mothers themselves to sing about the lived experience of what it’s really like to be a mom.
The CD gently takes flight with title track a smooth as silk intro piece “Lullaby For A New Mother” that serves up an inviting vocal groove against impressive fretwork, eloquent silk rhythm section and mesmerizing vocal delivery from Drummond. Track 2 “Spring Run Off” presents a slow moving piece that serves up a methodical musical build with a passionate melodic delivery with heartfelt vocals from Drummond that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. Track 3 “4 AM Waking“ delivers an upbeat melody with impressive strings, thought provoking lyrical content and hypnotic vocals. The production quality is impressive and the musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. I would classify this music as high end Folk, Americana, Singer-Songwriter earthy Acoustic Celtic Pop. Along the way you will notice an array of instrumentation with things like String Movements, Cello, Banjo, Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Accordion, Upright Bass, impressive vocal harmonies and well placed rhythm section. Also present are a few impressive solo segments and sporadic percussive accents layered along the way. Song for song the combination of Drummond’s fluttering voice and earthy fretwork are eloquent and masterful. Now turning our attention over to Drummond. As for her vocal abilities she is quite impressive. Her vocal style is cut from the cloth of Sara McLaughlin, Norah Jones, Joni Mitchell, Indigo Girls and Dido. Other comparable artists include Jann Arden, Amanda MacLean and Amanda Marshall. It definitely works well within the confines of this Americana catalogue. Drummond delivers a jaw dropping vocal skill set with impressive vibrato, falsetto and overall vocal passion clearly showcases a strong and confident vocal ability. Drummond also showcases impressive Power, Control and Finesse. I especially like how her voice just sort of flows and ebbs melodically with the music. Her falsetto is to die for and it’s obvious to me she is classically trained.No doubt she has solid musical instincts behind the microphone. All engineering aspects check out perfectly. All the Engineering aspects are in check (Recording, Mixing, and Mastering) as the CD possesses solid low end punch and crystal clear high end clarity. This impressive tribute CD from Drummond delivers 11 compelling tracks all providing an interesting snapshot of an amazing artist with thought provoking lyrical wisdom with messages that are positive, passionate and extremely captivating. I enjoyed the effective crossfade between Tracks 4 and 5. There isn’t a weak song on this entire catalog. From methodical “Dandelion Bouquet” to invigorating “In the Bud” to heartfelt “Good Mother” and These Flickered Scenes this CD has something for just about everyone. The song that touched me the most was Track 9 “Let’s Pretend” The CD ends with track 11 “Farther Afield” the perfect wrap for a catalogue like this.
It’s hard to find serious weakness with this production. A few song under or around 3 minutes feel like an incomplete statements to me. Like Joni Mitchell, Drummond showcases a rather sharp timbre especially within the higher registries. When she uses her power in conjunction with this it can be a wear on the senses over time. I would recommend Drummond dial down her power and intensity on some of the slower parts and save that reserve power for the finale moments of her music and some of the chorus’, or when the music calls for it. This will give her vocal delivery/music more peak and valley. I also want to hear her explore more vocals within the lower registries to mix up her vocal delivery a bit better. Perhaps lower 40% of the vocals an octave down.
I like everything about Joanna Drummond. She’s truly an infectious artist that possess a “Gold Standard” – look, sound, appeal, talent and impressive vocal presence. From start to finish “Songs For Mother’s Day” by Joanna Drummond is an impressive catalogue of music. The music is warm and earthy, highly passionate, uplifting and very passionate. The pin drop moments are amazing, and her falsetto is to die for. The songwriting is an interesting snapshot of music from a clairvoyant artist that has quite a lot to offer. All songs are consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair and signature groove. Note for note, song for song this catalogue is extremely consistent and fills the space with what I would describe as peaceful Americana exuberance delivered to us from North of the Border.
Score: 8.5/10 Stars
Cyrus Rhodes. Edited and Approved by Mindy McCall