Street Sounds: Ambitious jams

Land of Talk released their first recording in over five years, entitled Life After Youth

The Montreal-based band Land of Talk, led by singer/songwriter/guitarist, Elizabeth Powell has released their first recording in over five years, entitled Life After Youth.

The album is a dreamy and ambitious flow of songs that invokes some die-hard optimism, having come after Powell’s past bout with vocal polyps and a short retirement. The record’s alternate title could be the 19th Century-themed Life After Hipsterism in the Hotbed of New Century Supergroups, or Finding the Will Not to Bow to Cynicism. Anyway, the record is image inducing.

There are some weighty names working on Live After Youth: Steve Shelly of Sonic Youth, Sal Maida of Roxy Music and producer John Agnello, (Dinosaur Jr and Kurt Vile). Powell’s band favours more guitar driven sounds than those found on Life After Youth, but that bite isn’t missed here. That place is augmented by mellow toned synthesizers and electronic overlay. They make the tracks shimmer and the jangle of songs like Macabre are given a wide scope, making a cool song sound deep and otherworldly.

The recording’s mood is heavy on the light but that’s reflective of its energy rather than substance. Songs like This Time and Inner Lover beg the question of why Powell isn’t a well known Canadian vocalist. Her high end range and phrasing is similar to Leslie Feist, but Powell has an unintentional cry to her voice that makes her notes arc effortlessly. She has a sweet tone that recalls early ‘60s balladeers and pop singers.

Her work with Land of Talk brings a classic pop melodicism to alternative arrangements.

–Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who reviews the latest music releases in his column, Street Sounds, every Friday.

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