Published May 21, 2019On her debut solo album, London, ON-based artist Misha Bower — co-founder of the sprawling experimental rock band Bruce Peninsula — is a storyteller. On each of Trying to Have It All's nine vivid tracks, Bower shares stories about love, loneliness and the sharp tendrils of regrets.
There's a ghostly quality to the album's layered folk songs. Bower, with a persistently commanding voice, wails and snarls, depending on the story she's telling, while the gentle croons of backing vocalist Lisa Conway (L CON) provide a smoke machine-like mist that adds to the eerie ambience.
On both the album highlight "Man of Thirty," a story of an ill-fated cowboy, and "Misery's Faint Glimmer," a song about suffering, Bower's hushed warble casts long shadows and heightens the uneasy mood of the tracks' storylines.
In addition to Conway, Bower is joined by a stellar group of backing players: Will Kidman (electric guitar and piano), Nathan Lawr (drums), Dallas Wehrle (bass), and Mika Posen, Kelly Larochette, Jill Sauerteig and Julia Narveson on strings. Kidman's frisky guitar work energizes the playful "Love That's Loose," and on the strong opener "Starless Nights," he unleashes a guitar solo that cuts a jagged hole in the night sky. On the same track, the string quartet craft dramatic pitches mirroring the disposition of the narrator under the "big-city lights."
With Trying to Have It All, Bower and her supporting cast, craft densely emotional stories that linger long after you put this collection back on the shelf. (Outside)