Queen of her Castle!
This Canadian folk singer-songwriter based in Toronto returns with her second full-length studio release, Pink City. This 10-track gentle beauty represents a pomp of folk that Castle understands greatly and plays well. At 32 minutes in length, one would hope the quality of this album would be of a high calibre and after a careful listen to this cohesive release, Castle’s vocal flutterings do not disappoint as Pink City represents a significant, positive step forward in her professional growth as a musical auteur. With Owen Pallett (of Arcade Fire fanfare) and Mike Smith providing the elegant string orchestrations throughout the album, they unshackle the release and move it from an earnest acoustic folk style into more diverse territory.
Listeners cannot help but make comparisons to Joni Mitchell, as Castle channels Mitchell’s seductive, courting vocals on tracks like, well, all of them? Her meditative and fragile verses blend into the gorgeous instrumentals of flutes, violin, guitar and percussion. The album opens easily enough with “Truth is the Freshest Fruit” as we are served some delicious violin vibratos as Jennifer’s guitar playing bounces along. We dovetail into “Working For The Man” as the violin once again engages the listener with its dulcet tones as the piano lingers. Castle’s vocal range continues to impress with wobbling casualness in “Nature” to the vocal howling in “Broken Vase.” “Sparta” invites an intriguing mention as it delves into the country genre but then brings in a flute? The fact the flute works is a great accomplishment on this track. “How or Why” is another interesting track, as we hear some sound effects mirroring Castle’s sung lyrics. “Sailing Away” cannot be overlooked with its resplendent instrumentals, and “Like A Gun” has a radiant bluesy appeal. Castle’s adept guitar playing throughout the album makes for a nice woven tapestry that ties the album together.
This finely crafted, gorgeous sophomore album is a pleasant surprise as it brings forth the history of folk music and entrenches its roots in the present with Castle’s own modern troubadour, Canadian twist. This is an album that could inexplicably land in your lap through word of mouth, and bewitch you forever while becoming a precious belonging. Could her music encapsulate the aesthetics of a generation, new or old? Only time will tell. Hopefully these songs will become indelibly stamped on the minds of music lovers everywhere and more people will listen to this introspective muse as she continues to break new ground and Pink City‘s appreciation grows for ages to come.
– Chris X (aka: the “Dis·si·dent Mankey”)
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: JENNIFER CASTLE – PINK CITY