Amelia Curran has established herself as one of Newfoundland’s (and Canada’s) most important songwriters. Since her 2008 debut album War Brides, she has built her reputation for personal and linguistically elaborate lyrics with acoustic, warm-feeling music with influences from country, jazz and the traditional music she grew up with in St. John’s.
Her newest album was released on March 10, entitled Watershed, which references her ongoing battles with misogyny and mental health. Her campaign to break stigmas about mental health in the arts is very relevant to this album’s lyrical content and overall message.
From the first track, it’s clear that her songwriting skills are still at the top of her game and her lyrics are still very phonetically pleasing. However, like many artists, the pressure to produce something commercially advantageous can be seen in the production choices of this album. The musical landscape includes a lot of low-tuned, ‘thuddy’ drums and stadium country-esque electric guitar, a far cry from her 2009 album Hunter Hunter (which is my favourite work of hers).
Her melo, alto voice doesn’t sit well in the midst of a full drum kit, electric guitars, electric bass and occasional brass, and I miss the quiet coffee house reverence of her earlier work. For that reason, the tracks “Try” and the finale “You Have Got Each Other” stand out. The other instruments leave room for her voice and every lyrics rings in the listener’s ears.
Overall, if you like folk or Canadian artists or both, listen for the tracks “Act of Human Kindness” and “Every Woman Every Man”, but listen to her old work first. That being said, her experimentation and branching out is commendable and as a wordsmith, she consistently and effectively communicates an intimate side of herself, by the end of this album, you may feel as if you know her personally.
-Luke Webster, Assistant Arts & Culture Editor