At first I didn’t know what to think of this album. It was like one of those awkward first dates that ended in an ass-out hug. After listening to it a second time though, it turned out to be not so bad.
Erika Werry is a Toronto-based folk alt-country artist and she is a difficult artist to figure out. In the technical age it is so easy to find a musician’s webpage, blog, or Facebook and get some sort of hint about them that (usually) compliments their music. Werry, however, speaks mostly through her music. I managed to find an artist’s statement on the Tinderbox at http://boxesofboom.blogspot.ca/ where it is obvious that she is dedicated to her sound and takes exceptional pride in her work.
The album is quite long and diverse. It starts with an upbeat pop-punk feel in “What” and gradually falls into something reminiscent of folk-country ballads in “Early Wine”. Suddenly you are back in pop land with the track “Neil”. The flow reminds me a bit of the pacing in video games, where the action is built up to the point where your heart is beating out of your chest. This is usually followed by a huge wave of relief before you have a full-on meltdown in your dark basement at 3 in the morning.
Well, I was not listening to this album in a dark basement, mostly because I’m not privy to such luxuries. That’s not the only reason, but because Erika’s sound deserves birds flying through blue skies and bike rides in the river valley. Her voice has a natural wobble to it, which makes her stand out from her female counterparts. She’s also not afraid to experiment with rhythm, as heard in the track “Marguerite”. The overall sound is very dynamic, and changes from track to track. Altogether though I enjoyed the harmonies and the beautiful instrumentation. I’m a sucker for the harmonica in “Fishing for Fish”.
Her lyrics were a hit or miss for me. Some songs seemed to be conventionally based country songs about relationships, while others were quite strange with witty writing. I really enjoy the first verse in “What”:
Your ex-girlfriend is so beautiful,
You said she was a loser
I should’ve known you’d be a tool
She’s breezy and cool,
Her daughter is two.
Sticking up for another woman instead of viewing her as competition is a pretty original take on that sort of inter-relational dynamic.
Altogether this album is worth a listen. Try listening to it with headphones in, as to appreciate her voice. I found Werry’s voice did not have the same impact as when I played it in the background. It fits right at home when you’re cranking it during cooking dinner or laying in your bed looking at the ceiling.