BAROQUE POP: The Deserters
By Rachel Zeffira, from the forthcoming The Deserters (Paper Bag); streaming here
With her new single, the classically-trained former Cat's Eyes singer-instrumentalist Rachel Zeffira creates a snow-globe world – a dancerly, softly orchestral creation built upon a revolving, barely-lit piano motif. The Italian-Canadian's voice is a cool soprano kind, used in a ghostly, gazing manner on lyrics about an old friend and a longed-for reunion. "Remember the music you made, those who heard became the deserters." As for Zeffira, she is the quiet siren waiting to happen – where do we sign up for her gentle musical cause?
SOUL: Minute By Minute
By The James Hunter Six, from the forthcoming Minute By Minute; download available here
"There's no need to check my watch / Cause time is all I got / till I get to you." The English soul singer James Hunter may not be consulting his timepiece, but his fans are. Minute By Minute is the title track off his first album in five years, and it is produced by Daptone Records's Gabriel Roth. It's a brassed-up piece, with Hunter longing in a gutsier Charles Bradley-style, a little less suave than we remember him. Hunter is back, and not a minute too early.
FOLK: Snowy Soul
By Trent Severn, from the self-titled album; streaming here
You've heard of Crosby, Stills and Nash? How about Nash, Nash and Nash? The sweet voiced harmonists from Stratford, Ont., are Emm Gryner, Dayna Manning and Laura C. Bate. They sing bird-high and right beautiful, about cold souls, better days seen, and the need to return home. A wicked violin solo chills and a bass-riff breakdown is from another era – it all feels like a very long time gone.
Trent Severn plays East Street Station, Goderich, Ont., March 15.
FOLK-POP: Find Her Way
By Chloe Charles, from Break the Balance; streaming here
"Will she find her way?" She's the step-sister of Julian Lennon and has earned comparisons to Patrick Watson and Basia Bulat, but Toronto's chalky-voiced Chloe Charles looks to forge her own path. On a magical, deftly arranged track, the answer to her question is self-apparent.
Chloe Charles plays the Revival, Toronto, Feb. 13; London Music Club, London, Ont., March 1; The Pearl, Hamilton, March 2.
VIDEO: Started From the Bottom
By Drake, directed by Director X; streaming here
The Los Angeles-based rapper once again asserts his Canadian roots, with a video that reps Toronto youth soccer and Shoppers Drug Mart. A hilarious drugstore interlude (filmed in Binbrook, Ont.) involves a bodacious female customer and leering male cashiers, while the Grammy-winning Drake's own journey is portrayed with a shot of his mother outside her Forest Hill home and Drizzy himself jumping out of a convertible in the middle of a snow flurry.