Yukon Women in Music (YWIM) have released their fourth album, which is as musically diverse as their membership.
Founded in 1998, the YWIM collective brings together female singer-songwriters who pool their talent and resources for concerts and recording opportunities. To date, it has released a live album, a sampler of pre-recorded tracks and a more cohesive album with a backing band. The album Song Rise, released in November, is the YWIM’s second sampler of new and previously released material.
The songs range from folky BAGWAG (boys and girls with acoustic guitars) to heavy rockers, with some jazz in between. This is what you’d expect from women of various age groups, languages, ethnicities and styles. It celebrates the talent and diversity of female Yukon musicians.
Rose Kirchner eases the listener into this collection. Her introspective lyrics on Fireweed are matched by delicately finger-picked acoustic guitar.
Claire Ness’s Call of the Yukon follows. While Ness may be better known as clown, she is in full-romantic mode on this song — singing about what draws her back home.
With a throaty and character-filled voice, she sings, “When the dark nights of winter just aren’t long enough/I long for sundogs howling at the moon.”
Sylvie Painchaud’s Me Voilà, the first of the French language offerings, has a similar substance, though completely different style. Against a steady crescendo of music built around her piano and versatile voice, she describes how the Yukon gave her the strength to be herself.
Nicole Edwards finds strength within herself. Living with scleroderma, an autoimmune disease, Edwards sings powerful, positive, heavy rock songs, like I Still Have Something, which can inspire us all to meet adversity and grow from it.
This Road by BJ MacLean follows in complete contrast to Edwards’ song. MacLean sings it with a light vibrato against her delicate acoustic guitar, underscored by light electric guitar provided by Bob Hamilton.
Blue Hibou consists of banjo-playing phenom Kim Barlow and ukulelist Hélène Beaulieu, joined on Courir sur la plage by Micah Smith on lap-steel guitar. It’s a light quirky song, reminiscent of Vaudeville or even earlier, as though Barlow and Beaulieu are reviving a lost art form.
Pourquoi by L. Grace (Lauren Tuck) is a bilingual song, drifting between folk and pop rock and switching easily between English and French lyrics. The bridge includes a light melodic rap, similar to her other musical project, The Lore.
The album’s jazz number is Fawn Fritzen’s I’m a Fool for You. Her voice is soft, playful and romantic, as is her piano.
One of my favourite artists is brigs (Andrea Burgoyne). With lyrics that rival John K. Samson’s and a powerful backing instrumentation provided by Jordy Walker, her song The Night Wins is huge. I’m only disappointed that brigs didn’t contribute a new track: I need more of her music.
Sense of Distance by Home Sweet Home matches Kate Weekes’ lyrics with Keitha Clarke and Boyd Benjamin’s fiddles, giving it a down-home feel.
With Slide Over by Brenda Berezan, the compilation returns to rock. This song cruises through the verses, accompanied by Wayne Garrett’s surf-rock guitar solos.
Karen Furlong’s Fear and Common Sense oozes a raw sensuality like early Liz Phair.
Furlong’s voice seduces the listener as she sings, “I bet you’d thrill me again and again and again and again.”
Sara MacDonald’s The Sun Too Will Die, was previously released by her band, the august arrival. It’s swirling folk melody and existential lyrics.
Kim Rogers’ I’m the Girl is the compilation’s big finale. With heavy guitars by Rick Santers and Kurt Schefter and Rogers’ passionate voice, the song has a hard edge like Heart in their heyday.
Outstanding Tracks: Courir sur la plage, The Night Wins and I Still Have Something.