Joanna Chapman-Smith - Contraries

by Katy Ledger Rating:7.5 Release Date:2010-06-14

Meet Joanna Chapman-Smith, a 26-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter, who presents us with Contraries her second album of jazz-tinged ethnic folk music. Multi-instrumentalist Chapman-Smith explores the struggle and contradictions of both sides of the human spirit with earnest and honest lyrics, inspired, according to her press release, by William Blake's 'The Marriage of Heaven and Hell' and her art school past. How very bohemian.

Joanna's diverse ethnic background and bohemian lifestyle are reflected in the music. The album employs various European influences, with some songs having a distinct Parisian flavour whilst others adopt the musical stylings of the Romany Gypsies. Although Joanna Chapman-Smith has a beautiful voice her vocals are enhanced when accompanied by the pretty harmonies and scattered percussion of her band The Tryst. 'Between the Minds', where Chapman-Smith is joined by singing and whistling family members has a particularly captivating communal feel and is where Joanna and her music really come to life.

Contraries is an assorted and more distinct effort than her 2006 album Eyre Corvidae. And while her boho-boasting and unnecessary references to 18th century poets seem clumsily desperate, they do not detract from what is a charming and affecting bundle of folk songs.

Katy Ledger

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