Saturday, October 28, 2023

CD Odyssey Disc 1685: Skye Wallace

Another busy week led to another delay in getting this review to you, dear readers. But I’m back now, and ready to fill you with marvel and delight through a single picture and around 800 words strung together in a particular order.

Disc 1685 is…Terribly Good

Artist: Skye Wallace

Year of Release: 2022

What’s up with the Cover?  Skye Wallace displays a perfectly executed slouch. This slouch looks like it is taking place in the hallway of a cheap apartment complex. Then again, the wall behind her looks unscuffed, so maybe it is the interior of one of the apartments.

This would make sense, given the unzipped boot situation, implying she’s just getting home, or just getting ready to go out. And I know some of you may be thinking with respect to that latter scenario – she’s going out in public in those pants?

Well, dear reader, I happen to like those pants. I’d wear them myself, except that I prefer a slim fit.

OK, on with the music review…

How I Came To Know It: This summer there was an outdoor festival in Victoria (the Phillip’s Backyarder). I was going mostly to see Lord Huron but as a matter of course I always check out all the other bands ahead of time to see if I would like to see them as well.

Skye Wallace impressed me. Unfortunately, she was on first and the Phillip’s Backyarder does not allow in/out privileges. Not wanting to be there the full six hours or more, I made a judgment call to NOT see her live, which is a bummer because I later heard she was a good show.

However, while I was there, knowing I liked her music (I’d listened to her whole discography in the week leading up) I bought both a t-shirt and this CD. So…here we are.

How It Stacks Up: I am on the lookout for four other Skye Wallace albums, but they have not been easy to find (her CDs are all sold out on Bandcamp), For now, there is no stacking up.

Rating: 4 stars

Sometimes you just want some old-time rock and roll, straight no chaser. For those times, I suggest a shot of what Skye Wallace has to offer will serve you right.

“Terribly Good” is straightforward Canadiana pop/rock. It does not break any new ground, nor should you demand that it do so. Relax, enjoy some 4/4 time and sink into the groove. It will be easy to do all these things, because “Terribly Good” lives up to its name.

This is Wallace’s fifth record and she has perfected her sound. The songs are catchy, and her vocals are confident but not overwrought. Wallace knows she’s got a set of pipes on her, and therefore doesn’t have to do a bunch of American Idol style warbles.

Stylistically she reminded me a lot of the Beaches, which isn’t surprising given both acts got their start in Toronto about ten years ago. That would’ve been a killer double-bill at some seedy club, but sadly I came to both parties late. Wallace also has a bit of a Pat Benatar vibe going on, with that belting raunchy roughness with a youthful pop vibe mixed in, like a sugar coating to help everything go down easier. It’s mostly grit, but you’ll get little yips and squeals (the best of these are on “Phantom Limb”) that remind you that you’re here to have fun.

The production and arrangement on this record are perfect. The sound is rich, separated, and distinct. The arrangements let the guitar riffs and drum beats shine individually, before connecting into a larger sound greater than the sum of its parts. Does Wallace do all those obvious tricks like breaking things down again – isolating little guitar parts and generally try to catch your attention in a new way every few bars? Yes she does, but you will like it.

Standouts on the record show that within this “inside the lines” approach to rock and roll, Wallace still displays a good range. “Phantom Limb” has a good thump and Wallace’s voice peals out as cymbals crash in the background. Immediately following we get “Keeper”, a single echoing guitar and Wallace singing with sweet heartache in her voice. Whether it is “all the stuff” with “Phantom Limb” or just her and a guitar on “Keeper”, the choices are well made.

This record is very short – 8 songs and well under 30 minutes, and over too soon.  Fortunately it has good re-listenability and I didn’t tire of it despite many rounds in the car. You shouldn’t expect this record to challenge you musically – it won’t – just enjoy it on its own terms. You may want to tap your toe, or maybe turn the volume up. These are good instincts. Go with them.

Best tracks: Tooth and Nail, Phantom Limb, Keeper, Tear a Piece (Bite Me)

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