The Return... To Canada with Love
by Liona Boyd
A Beautiful and moving musical tour of a whole country
Stand Our Tracks:
By Simon Blair
You don't have to be Canadian to appreciate this album - but it helps!
If you want to see the whole country (or be reminded of why you love it) but you don't quite want to put on a winter coat and leave the house, just put this record on instead.
I only recently discovered the music of Liona Boyd. Having listened to much of her work over the last month in roughly chronological order, it's really interesting to see her come full circle artistically and personally with this album.
She explores her relationship with Canada with both deeply fond nostalgia for past places and people and also aching hope for its future promise. Her poetically vivid ballads combine with the intimate purity of her voice and a melodic fireside guitar- strumming style that makes you feel as if you're sitting right beside the artist in that canoe pictured on the cover. The superb production mixing of the album subtly layers distinctly Canadian sounds into the songs, as if the scattering of loons across a lake echoes in the distance like an instrument (though probably detectable only to Canadian ears!).
The experience of listening to the album (especially with headphones) is that it really feels as if you are drifting in a canoe across a misty lake on a crisp Canadian autumn, then hiking over the Rockies in winter, venturing into the Arctic north, arriving at the Maritimes in spring, and generally criss-crossing the full breadth of the country from coast to coast alongside a sage and gifted storyteller-guide, all while safe and warm on your couch. For this reason it's the perfect atmosphere-setter for a family home on a weekend or holiday.
By telling the story of her own evolving relationship with Canada over an extraordinary lifetime (much of it spent touring abroad as an ambassador for Canadian music, but always feeling the pull to return home), the artist gives a voice to the diverse feelings about and images of Canada shared and beloved by so many Canadians. In this way the album is rather unique: it's both a personal meditative exploration of what a place means internally to the artist, but at the same time it's a wide-roaming outward exploration of a continentally vast physical and cultural space.
If you're a fan of Liona Boyd or any of the great lyrical folk storyteller troubadours, you'll love this album. If you're unfamiliar with the artist or not particularly sold on the 'folk music' genre, but perhaps you'd like to have a transportive musical experience where you really do feel like you've explored an entire beautiful country in just 70 minutes, then definitely give this album a listen. A wonderful listening experience and highly recommend. Standout tracks are "You Drew Me Back Again", "Emily Carr" and "Song of the Arctic", but this album is best experienced as a journey from start to finish.
This would make an especially appropriate and touching gift for any Canadians in your life living abroad, as it really does take you on a 70-minute mental mini-vacation back home and across the whole country. I am sending out copies myself to my two sisters living overseas. If you're a Canadian comfortably and permanently ensconced in Canada yourself, but maybe you don't want to wait another four months for all the gold medals in Sochi to remind you of why you love Canada, then just put on your headphones, squeeze a drop of maple syrup into your Tim Hortons coffee, put your feet up and let the loving images of this great country wash over.