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Kensington Prairie

Captured in Still Life

(Anniedale; US: Available as import; UK: Unavailable; Canada release date: Apr 2008)

Happy surprises like this are what make writing reviews worth all the flaming poop bags on my doorstep. Coming out of nowhere, the debut album from Vancouver’s own Kensington Prairie is a slice of happiness pie. Centering on the sweetly nostalgic voice of founding Maplewood Lane chanteuse Rebecca Rowan, Captured in Still Life joins the teenage wistfulness of Sixpence None The Richer, the contemplative indie nature of Young & Sexy, and the alt. country twang of The Buttless Chaps. On top of that, they pack in a touch of organ, mandolin, piano, and a laundry list of vibraphones, xylophones, and what-a-phones. These are not the songs of the revolution and won’t noticeably change the world, but they are addictively sweet and very impressive for Vancouver unknowns. In fact, they’re solid enough that two tracks have already been picked up for a new CBC prime-time series called Heartland. Rebecca’s vocals are more moving than anything in the Feist catalogue, while her arrangements (heavily featuring producer Jonathan Anderson) are charmingly rich but not swamped. Simply put, it’s a nice CD, no more, no less.

Rating:

Author of blurbs, curator of playlists, and booker of shows, Alan Ranta has been plugging away at that music writing and programming thing since 2004. His brutally honest critical opinion has appeared in such publications as Exclaim!, CBC Music, PopMatters and Tiny Mix Tapes, and has been enlisted to help judge the Polaris Music Prize, Pazz & Jop, and Juno Awards. Based in East Van, he graduated with a BFA in music from Simon Fraser University in 2012. He's also a social media plague, cat whisperer, socio-political haranguer, Canucks fan, and one of the last remaining cowboys, with a butt that won't quit.


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