Thursday, December 15, 2011


An insanely young and talented songwriter and singer, Gillis is just 21, but has already wowed everyone who has heard her, and continues to amaze on her new and second album.  The Ontario performer won Young Performer of the Year at the 2009 Canadian Folk Music Awards, but you could have just dropped the "young" from that title.  Also, I don't know genre to slot her in, other than great music.

She can rock out, ya.  She can haunt you.  That's the first three songs.  About a minute into number four, a bouncy banjo one called The Cove, after you've already figured out she a top singer, she opens her range up and starts hitting high notes and you realized she's got more tricks up her sleeve.  Then, the song toughens up and it sinks in that this is a number about those hunters that lure and kill the dolphins each year in Japan, the ones caught on video a couple of years back, and the protest against them.  This is strong stuff.

Next comes something extra-special, and like nothing I've heard before.  It's a fairy tale, a child's story with a moral, and so well done it will touch the most cynical of us all.  John And The Monster has to be heard to be fully appreciated, with the spoken-word start, the switch into a song, the tender and touching delivery, the ingenuity of the story.  A monster who can cure cancer?  The boy who finds him, but chooses to save him from being locked up instead of saving his own life?  Five minutes folks, I marvel at her ability to write and then polish that story into brief perfection.  I hope she's ready to turn it into a kids book immediately.

Another brilliant bit of story-telling comes in the tale of Cannonball Sam, the smartest sailor ever forced to walk the plank.  Next up is Snap Crack, a mystery-hipster-blues that Tom Waits could sing.  I could go on about each song, but I've run out of superlatives.

Normally when I see parental involvement, especially in major jobs such as production and co-writing, my instincts tell me there's trouble afoot.  However, not only is it clear Gillis comes fully deserving and talented to be an artist, she also had the perfect person to work with in-house.  Her father David is a champion fingerstyle guitar player, an award-winning songwriter, and obviously an able producer.  Plus, he's connected and smart to surround her with top-notch players, including Bill Dillon, Gary Craig and Kevin Fox.  I guess you could say she has an unfair advantage over all the other 21-year olds.  But this ain't Canadian Idol, this is the real deal, this is art.

No comments:

Post a Comment