Todd Stewart is no newcomer to the Canadian music scene, even if his EP, Everything You Want, is his first solo release. Most recently of the WCMA Roots Group/Duo of the Year winner, the Northern Beauties, Stewart is once again taking his music in a different direction.
On his first solo foray, Stewart has gathered up the songs that didn’t quite fit the duo, and added a few, deeply personal tracks. A love song to his wife, “Kerry Anne” pays tribute to the person he says, more than anyone, pushes him to go after what he really wants.
Restrained melodies suit Stewart’s intimate approach—a short harmonica interlude breaks up the rending “Everything You Want,” as Stewart quietly sings, “Was it everything you want/Was it everything you need/Was it everything you hoped/Your life would be?”
There are still moments when old rock roots shine through. “Ordinary Love” is a catchy first hook that blends the old and the new. “Out Of My Mind” does the same, but this time by reaching for some classic folk and country sounds through Stewart’s melodic string picking.
And while the first couple of tracks have all the makings of a fun, rollicking folk release, it’s the EP’s gradual reveal—song-by-song—that leaves the most impressionable marks. Stewart is at his most open on the slower tracks, and the poignant lyrics make the songs all that much richer, even as they strip themselves bare.
Top Tracks: “Ordinary Love”; “Everything You Want”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)