Each successive release from Montreal’s Corinna Rose follows like a game of hopscotch: her 2011 EP was a beautiful affair with minimal instrumental parts, and her 2013 LP featured full band numbers to flesh out her sound. The Wharf EP is a return to simpler instrumentation, but with a twist; this time it’s a collaboration with autoharp player Leah Dolgoy.
If Rose’s music didn’t already have a magic of its own, the twinkling of the harp in the background of the EP’s six songs adds that touch. Just banjo, harp, strings and vocals (for the most part) make up this collection, and just as with Northeast Southwest, it starts with a stunner. “Broken Telephone” morphs as quickly as the message in the classic game gets mangled. Rose matches her lyrical pace to that of her quickly plucked banjo, and the playful song only gets more fun as Dolgoy’s voice and harp come in. When the two sing “Let us shout it out” later in the song, it has the warmth of a good Christmas carol.
If “Broken Telephone” is playful, “Wolf” is several steps towards mournful. The mood is darker with its subject matter (believing survivors of sexual abuse) and the gentle guitar playing makes the song as spooky as the sight of a wolf in the distance.
Mournful in a different sense is Rose and Dolgoy’s cover of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” which eschews country twang for a more delicate take—just banjo and harp. The title track, meanwhile, is delicate in a different sense—it’s like and breezy, and with lyrics about exposed skin, blades of grass and the salty sting of the brine, you’ll feel like you’re right there in the water.
“Don’t Fall in a Love” is also a breezy song thanks its loping melody, and the lyrics about a romantic stalemate may be all too relateable for some. Finally, an acoustic version of Northeast Southwest‘s “Lost Like You” strips the song to its essence without losing any of its charm and warmth.
What do you get when a banjo and a harp walk into a room? Some beautiful, beautiful folk music.
Top Track: “Broken Telephone”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)