Leaning to the Sun (Independent)
Leaning to the Sun is clearly an album made by people who remember and appreciate that records once had two sides and demanded a maximum commitment of maybe 40 minutes, as God intended. This is classy adult rock in a deftly played and efficient 10-song package, lying somewhere on the blurry border between alt-folk and country. But vocalist-guitarist Katie Ormiston’s Neko Case–ish voice is a little too bright and cheerful for either, and the same goes for her songwriting: she does smouldering jazzabilly in “Chanel #5”, but bends the genre to her own personality.
Elsewhere, “Merde Il Pleut” is a Gallic jig about Vancouver’s weather, and the five-piece delivers what sounds like a lost Kirsty MacColl song in the knockout, bittersweet country rocker “Liquor Store”. “If I’m Not Dead” hangs almost entirely on a single blunt chord change, a hook that’s as barbed as it is fiendishly simple. Like everything on else Leaning to the Sun, it gets under your skin before you have a chance to notice. Most tellingly, there’s a character in the song “Sweet Music” (let’s call her “Katie”) who spends a whole two verses singing the praises of the “second to last song on side one” of Jesus Christ Superstar, having already contemplated the Band, Leonard Cohen, and Neil Young. That’s the kind of person Leaning to the Sun is meant for (let’s call him “Me”).