Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Jane Gowan moved to Toronto from Vancouver in 2006 and formed Shade with bassist Mary Harmer (Weeping Tile) and drummer Cam Giroux (Oh Susannah, Violet Archers, Holly McNarland). Along the way, Shade picked up part-time band member and producer Tim Vesely of Rheostatics and Violet Archers, and put out last year’s Highway LP. For the new EP, One Last Show of Hearts, Vesley returned to the producer’s chair, but in lieu of the whole band contributing, Gowan and Vesley worked on the new songs alone on a “series of Sundays” this past winter.
The songs may be scaled back, but Gowan and Vesely have coloured them with unexpected hues and intricate instrumental weaves. There’s a smart and witty playfulness to the arrangements on these seven songs (I think it’s more LP than EP, actually, but I won’t get into semantics here) that offers a poignant counterpoint to the emotional vulnerability in the lyrics. Being my first introduction to Shade, I went back to check out One Last Show… predecessor Highway to see just how “stripped back” stripped back was. It’s subtle, but the EP takes a slightly more minimalist approach, really emphasizing the songs’ melodic structures and highlighting Gowan’s vocals. What’s interesting to me is that Vesley and Gowan were able to highlight Shade’s charms without falling into the trap of making it just a voice-and-guitar acoustic album, as seems to be the way so many other artists go. They’ve shown that a record can be stripped without being totally naked and vulnerable. That’s not an easy feat to pull off.
One Last Show of Hearts is available as a download from Shade’s Bandcamp page now (as is the debut LP).
Tags: iNTRODUCiNG, Shade