A long time ago, I had many favourite Alberta singer-songwriters who just happened to be female. Some have fallen off my radar (Jennifer Gibson, and many whose names have faded in memory), while several—Jane Hawley, Ruth Purves Smith, and Maria Dunn, to recall three—remain in regular rotation within my roots music world.
I was pleased to renew acquaintance with Jessica Heine this last week. I recall hearing her on area radio a lifetime ago, but until her new Fallen Trees release Goodbye Party appeared in my mailbox I had forgotten about her.
I’ve spent the last several days correcting my error.
Listening to Goodbye Party, I am reminded of several folks of the folk festival variety—Dar Williams, certainly, but also Feist, The Waifs, and even our Jann—making an instant connection. Spending more time with this personal, pensive set, I have come to appreciate its subtle beauty.
Nostalgia doesn’t overwhelm Heine. Challenging and introspective, “Captain My Captain” looks at the end of a relationship—“Maybe after the drowning we’ll go somewhere warm”—while “Easy To Please” has her coming out on the other side—“I’m choosing the life I lead,”—she sings.
Placing the therapy side of artistic expression at the fore, Goodbye Party balances bitter pain with hopeful brightness following. “Be Gentle With My Heart” reveals some of this positive outlook, while “When You Loved Me,” despite its reflection on a failed relationship, has a positive outcome: “I remember, while you forget, there was a time when you loved me.” “Could Have Loved You Better” and “To The Moon With You Alice” take very different approaches to relationships; fabulous listens, carried along by Heine’s strong, distinctive voice.
Not everything is emotionally heavy. “Figure It Out” recalls the poetic insights and melodic lightness of Lava Hay’s music—how’s that for a throwback reference?
Heine is joined by her long-standing backing band on most tracks. Brennan Cameron is prominent, playing a variety of instruments—piano, mandolin, and reed organ. Keith Rempel (bass) and Matt Grier (drums) also appear, as do Chris Tabbert (guitar) and producer Peter Stone (guitar and piano) of 100 mile house. Most everybody sings on the vibrant title track, including dad Doug and Elliot Thomas (banjo.)
Goodbye Party is a quiet album, ideal for listening on lonely, rainy nights, beverage in hand. Highly recommended.