"St. Paul" - Ann Vriend
Lastly this week I have another song that's been out in the world for a while, but unlike the previous two, this one has received next to no online attention to date. I pretty much stumbled upon it during my first run-through of the new SXSW MP3s. Serendipity rules.
A singer/songwriter from Edmonton, Vriend has a voice that sounds a bit like Kate Bush doing a Nanci Griffith imitation (or maybe it's Nanci Griffith doing a Kate Bush imitation; I can never figure out which way to go with that sort of comparison). "St. Paul" is a smooth strummer with a timeless core; once the song kicks into gear, after a minute or so, it sounds like something that must have always been around, something rock solid, stratospheric, and maybe even a little Dylanic (the organ that comes to the fore two-thirds of the way through contributes nicely to that last impression). This is one of those fortunate songs in which the chorus emerges as increasingly deep and revelatory, both musically and lyrically, each time it recurs. In it, she sings, "What if I dare to risk it all/Be free wherever I found myself," and the words on the screen can't begin to convey the richness of the aural experience, the way the unexpected melodic upturn at "wherever" and upgraded resolution at "myself" together spring the song into a grand new dimension, while both conveying and deepening the stated yearning (which is, truth be told, one of the deepest human yearnings of them all).
"St. Paul" is from the album When We Were Spies, Vriend's third, which came out back in March 2008. Yet to create any stir in the blogosphere, she will be performing next month down at SXSW, which may help; the MP3 is via the SXSW web site.