Review – “Sleeptalker” – Brenna Lowrie

sleeptalkerreviewed by Michael Thomas

Lethbridge was and continues to be a hotbed of musical talent. There’s something in the air there that encourages seems to encourage more psychedelic interpretations of music. One such example of this innovative spirit is Brenna Lowrie, who impressed me greatly with 2012’s The Body Electric.

Her music can be as gentle as folk or as piercing as psych-rock, often meeting both genres in the middle. On Sleeptalker, her latest EP, she shows how she can be simultaneously poetic and terrifying.

The EP is the result of a Jesse Northey-organized initiative, the Mixtape Club, which had a number of Alberta artists like Doug Hoyer, Mitchmatic, Tasy Hudson, Liam Trimble of Diamond Mind — and of course, Lowrie. They wrote one song every month based on a theme for a full year, and Lowrie picked her four favourites as a way to whet appetites for her next full-length album.

And once again she hits all the right notes. At times, her vocals are similar to those of Colleen Collins of Construction & Destruction, a heavily gloomy expressiveness. That’s especially apparent in the propulsive opener “Now (Again)” and the eerie closer “Burial Ground.” Both show her much more on the psych-rock side of things. “Death in Venice” is even groovier, with its surf-rock guitar riffs and Lowrie frequently yelling “Stop!” in the middle of verses.

Things get a bit softer with the mournful “Empty Road,” which feels exceptionally quiet despite her vocals and mournful guitar—as though she’s in a confined space, serenading only herself. “Oh Lady” is also quieter, but almost reverent. There’s a lot of descriptive language, as though Lowrie is painting a dream with words.

Perhaps the most intriguing inclusion is “Safe To Say,” which is almost like a pop song. There’s a pronounced drum machine, and the bass riffs just make you want to bounce around. It manages to tone itself down just enough, however, to make it still something reminiscent of Lowrie’s catalogue so far.

Four years after The Body Electric, Lowrie is still bouncing between genre and creating a ton of fascinating music in the process. No need to settle on one, either; may she continue to keep her audience guessing.

Top Track: “Oh Lady”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

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