Fresh Tracks: Celeigh Cardinal, Sammy Volkov and Dana Wylie, The Analog Dream releasing new music

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Celeigh Cardinal: Boundless Possibilities

Grief is a lonely road, but it was a journey Celeigh Cardinal endured to come out stronger on the other side. The Edmonton-based singer-songwriter says a pair of tragedies formed the songs that became her third album, Boundless Possibilities, due out June 21.

“In 2020, my son’s father was murdered and I lost an old friend to suicide. It was these events, in combination with the collective mourning that COVID brought into the world, that I experienced a grief that I had never known,” Cardinal says in the album’s accompanying press material.

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Cardinal says navigating her grief allowed her to break free from previous constraints and emerge from her comfort zone to record Boundless Possibilities with co-producer James Bunton. The resulting songs are often raw and direct; barbed missives fired off to lovers past and present. Themes of love and death hang over the album but the overall sound is varied and welcoming rather than melancholy.

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The album begins with the title track, a hazy, ethereal spoken-word piece that lays out the themes of loss, spirituality and hope. Every Day follows, in which Cardinal sings about the bittersweetness of time healing wounds at the expense of fading memories. Other songs such as the album single Let Me Lie to You mine Cardinal’s personal experiences. On the surface, it’s a sultry neo-soul song, but Cardinal explains the track was written about a dating experience where her partner developed feelings she could not reciprocate. Same deal with You Make It Look Easy, which Cardinal says is about the difficulties she encountered as an Indigenous single mom navigating the music industry.

Cardinal’s vocals are strong and replete with personality, ranging from her contained but heartfelt singing on How I Learned To Live Alone to the soaring piano ballad Wandering River. Credit also needs to go toward the musicians she surrounded herself in the recording process. The songs are rich and textured with ’70s rock touchstones such as Wurlitzer electric piano, organs and synths, giving the album a warm, lived-in feel.

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We’re halfway through 2024, but it’s safe to say Cardinal’s  Boundless Possibilities is in the running for local album of the year. Listen to it on streaming platforms when it’s released on June 21. Cardinal will also be performing an album release concert at the Varscona Theatre on June 21 along with Jay Gilday as support.

celeigh cardinal
Celeigh Cardinal’s new album, Boundless Possibilities, comes out June 21. Photo by supplied

Sammy Volkov and Dana Wylie: The Day Had to Come

Sammy Volkov burst onto the scene with his retro-tinged debut album Be Alright! generating heaps of acclaim for his man-out-of-time musical stylings. It makes sense for Volkov to team-up with Edmonton’s Dana Wylie, whose timeless sound led to one of 2023’s best albums, to record an album of duets.

The resulting product is a collection of country music songs that pay equal amounts of homage to the genre while highlighting the duo’s strengths as songwriters. Their combined vocals conjure up memories of classic pairings of the past, such as George Jones and Tammy Wynette and Lorette Lynn and Conway Twitty. Layed over a rich music bed consisting of pedal steel, mandolin, violins and other country-music mainstays, the album would not sound of place on either an AM radio band or on someone’s streaming playlist.

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Album standouts include Volkov’s lonesome Secret Subway Conversations, the heartbreaking Saw the End Before We Started and Wylie’s tearjerking The Day Had to Come about the helpless feeling of watching a former lover move on. Not all of the tracks on the album are tear-in-your-beer ditties, as Volkov and Wylie find a comfortable toe-stepping shuffle on Bird Song and the Western-swinging Ain’t Found Heaven Yet.

Listen to The Day Had to Come on major streaming services. Volkov and Wylie are performing an album release show on June 6 with Kaiya Kodie as the opening act at the Aviary. 

sammy volkov and dana wylie
Sammy Volkov and Dana Wylie have just released a joint album, The Day Had To Come. Photo by supplied

The Analog Dream: Lonely Exile

It’s been over a decade since we’ve heard from Jonathan Greig’s The Analog Dream project, but he’s returned with a new EP set to be released June 14. Produced, written and performed by Greig, Lonely Exile consists of six dreamy indie-pop tracks. Greig is joined by the likes of James Mcalister who adds drums and programming, Peter Mol contributing bass and keyboards, and guest vocalist Wendy Wegner among others. The result is a gorgeous mash-up of glitch-era Radiohead and bedroom confessionals of The Postal Service.

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Greig’s hushed vocals are processed to sound like audio diary entries recorded in a forgotten audio format, contributing to the EP’s intimacy. Musical textures float through the tracks, adding to an ultimate headphone listen. The title track and the EP’s single feature a bright guitar chiming throughout and a killer hook while keyboards crash and clank in the background.

Reheated Fresh Tracks

Travel back to Edmonton’s indie-rock scene of 2010 when venues such as Wunderbar and The Empress still existed. Rock trio Camembert Stacy Lloyd Brown, Josh Holinaty, Sam Pillar – recorded its self-titled album live off the floor and released it in 2014 while maintaining a desire to press it to vinyl. Camebert’s music is riff-heavy with a bit of Black Sabbath sludge holding down the bottom, resulting in a fun listen well worth seeking out. The band eventually broke up but a decade later are realizing their vinyl dream.

A limited run is now available for purchase online at www.thehighdough.ca/merch beginning June 4. There are rumblings of new treats from Camembert in the pipeline so stay tuned.

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