Canada consistently produces amazing musical story tellers. From Lightfoot, Cohen, and Young to the younger Mangan and Plaskett, there's something in the fresh water that makes us a nation of talented raconteurs. Jay Aymar has recently been added to my list of favorite Canadian songwriters, and I wish I'd known of him sooner. Passing Through is completely stuffed full with fantastic and thoughtful lines of poetic genius. Aymar has quite the knack for putting words in beautiful succession and pitting fact and fiction.
Aymar has been stepping across this country for many years now, pleasing crowds in concert halls and small town bars alike. Only pure dedication to a craft such as this can garner such honest results.
Passing Through is a steady stream of bluesy and classic country sounding similar to Dylan and The Band. Aymar kills it with his lyrical phrasing and simple melody, the flow allows his lyrics to come through clearly and resonate; especially in the case of "Passing Through", my favorite track off of the album. A five minute finger picked ballad that's full like a novel but would fit in a church bulletin. My other favorite part of this record is the amazing fiddle performances throughout the album, ridiculously tasteful and subtle. Very well played.
Passing Through carries the energy of a live performance while keeping tight and crisp, which is not always easy but pulled off flawlessly here. Aymar's storytelling is forefront here and rightfully so, it is definitely the writing that sets this album above the bar and evokes more emotion than your average country record.
If you'd like to experience Jay's incredible storytelling first hand, he is appearing live at the 5th Avenue Cup and Saucer on Thursday, June 14th. Contact them for more information.
"Radio-ready" rock is not my favorite. If you've read previous reviews you'd already know my stance on the genre. Especially rock that comes ridiculously close to the edge of nothing more than distorted heavy noise. However, an artist who's willing to be completely honest with their audience, no matter how depressing or proud, is something I'll always give a hand to. Manafest's album Fighter speaks volumes to the emotions, both positive and negative, that we all feel daily. Garnering worldwide support and a couple Juno nominations to boot, Fighter is definitely a strong start for this Canadian born king of perseverance.
Fighter is full of sing-a-long anthems, thick heavy chords, and an unusual amount of talented rapping. It brings to mind many rock bands from my high school years like POD and Thousand Foot Crutch. I'm not a versed expert of the Christian rock scene, but I feel that this album follows each pattern to a tee. Inspirational and loud, it's something many of my old friends would have been crawling all over. For me though, the album lacked imagination and poetics. I found it cliche and couldn't really tell when one song ended and the next began. Manafest does show a massive amount of talent though, and expresses himself like he's only singing to the closest of friends.
But who am I to argue with 150,000 worldwide sales, features on prime time TV, and international tours? People like to know that someone hurts too, or that someone has overcome a really terrible situation only to better themselves. Inspiration sells too many types of people. If you feel like you need some of this in your life, Manafest is playing in Yorkton at the Army Navy & Airforce Veterans club on June 13th along with some other hard hitting acts.