CD Reviews 

Lighting the Fuse 

Have just found Canada’s female answer to Crosby, Stills and Nash. Would love to go into more detail, but that would prevent me from listening to them. Dear Wears The Trousers Reader,

Have just found Canada’s female answer to Crosby, Stills and Nash. Would love to go into more detail, but that would prevent me from listening to them.

TTFN,
Your critic.

P.S. Did I mention they were wonderful?

P.P.S. It seems they started out working in a guitar shop in Winnipeg. Their previous album, 40 Days was a Juno award winner, after which they lost founder member Cara Luft to a solo career. Remaining members Nicky Mehta (mezzo) and Ruth Moody (soprano) met Annabelle Chvostek (alto); the result is Firecracker.

P.P.P.S. You want more? Alriiight. Firecracker was produced by David Travers-Smith (Jane Siberry) and is a quantum leap from 40 Days, which, though equally lovely, was a little too twee in places. Firecracker is aptly named; each song literally fizzes with moments that raise the hairs on your arms, whether it’s Nicky’s beautiful solo on the lament Begin (“when are you going to learn things sometimes turn instead of turn out”), the rolling country-folk melody of Things That You Know or Annabelle’s haunting rising octave changes on Apocalypse Lullaby when she sings “earthquakes break the walls / oceans rise, empires fall”. You may have noticed that I’ve been able to pick out songs written by all three; each member contributes four songs, lending additional weight to the diversity and talent on offer. The only traditional arrangement is the stunning a cappella Long Time Traveller.

The icing on this particularly tasty cake is the way their voices blend together. On Swallow they are so much a bird on the wing you can practically feel the rushing wind through their feathers, while Starlight finds them “shatt- ered under midnight” and it’s almost unbearably sad. Then there’s the finale, Prairie Town, as perfect an evocation of longing to lose your origins as you’re every likely to hear and one of the best songs I’ve heard inǃ_ well, ever really: “when it rains it snows in this prairie town / and we just watch it fall to the ground / and wait for love to come around”. Ah, me, that was it, I was undone.

Recent live shows in the UK and throughout the US appear to have had the same effect on the crowds as Firecracker has had on me. It’s genuinely difficult to be critical of anything here, it’s simply magnificent. If there’s any justice, Nicky, Ruth and Annabelle’s acoustic assault on the plastic people will conquer; in reality, we may have to settle for the best-kept secret north of the Great Lakes. I deny anyone not to drown in this achingly beautiful record; it’s what your CD player was invented for. Now, please, leave me alone, I need to hit repeat.

4.5 stars