A decade and more after her sojourn in Europe the Winnipeg-born Monika Wall returns to her roots – literally and musically-speaking as well – with an all-too-short album of breathtaking, original repertoire. The album is called Earth but any suggestion that Miss Wall is tied down by things “terra-firma” are quickly banished by the floating vocals on the rippling opener, “Let it Flow”, a luminous piece that gives notice of the “heart-music” that is to follow.
No sooner than one is seduced by the innate beauty of her singing here than one is immediately struck by the growing awareness of Miss Wall’s enormous gift for music. The connotation of the album title, Earth begins to reveal itself almost as soon as the music of “Moments” begins to unwind, and as we progress languidly through the rest of the repertoire. It is a metaphor with which Miss Wall suggests a sense of belonging, combined with the urge to travel through time and space and experience life to the full. This comes to fruition in the heraldic yearnings rooted in Gospel as well as in the sultry wistfulness of folk and in the questing balladry that hints at the soul-stirring influence of Jazz as well.
The artificial boundaries that might separate one style of song from the other melt into one another as one is beguiled by Miss Wall’s vocals. Throughout she reveals herself to be an artist of the first order, broadening out from Gospel and the Blues – singing styles in which she has long been known to excel – to a singular song-form all her own. Her instrument is gorgeous; lustrous, precise and feather-light. Her musicianship is fierce as she digs into the expression of each word, brings ceaseless variety to soft dynamics and gives every phrase a particular grace. She is accompanied by musicians who are clearly in tune with her vision and artistry and together they make beautiful music and quite memorable together.
Track list – 1: Let it Flow; 2: Slings and Arrows; 3: Moments; 4: One Step; 5: Season of Rain; 6: We Will Rise
Personnel – Monika Wall: vocals, backing vocals (1, 3, 5), and claps (6); Murray Pulver: guitar (1, 2, 4 -6), glockenspiel (3), backing vocals (1, 2, 4 – 6) and claps (6); Dave Quanbury: guitar (2 – 4); Jonathan Alexiuk: keyboards (2 – 5); Julian Bradford: bass (1 – 5); John Baron: bass (6); Ryan Voth: drums (1, 5); Daniel Roy: drums (2 – 4, 6); Marc Arnould: organ (1, 3, 6), keyboard (2, 5); Richard Gillis: trumpet (4); Melanie Zebryski: backing vocals (2, 6) and claps (6); David Graham: claps (6)
Released – 2018
Label – Independent
Runtime – 22:56