Coral Egan's third album delivers contemporary easy listening jazz and singer-songwriter fodder with a short shelf life.
As a Canadian, I try to give a little extra patience to the rare independent release my brethren produce, whatever it may be, but I just can't get behind this album. Hailing from Montreal, Coral Egan has sold over twenty thousand CDs in the frozen North, which is equivalent to approximately a few million in the United States and over 92 in Mexico, I think. Along the way, she picked up some Juno nominations and other awards not even well known amongst canucks, let alone recognized anywhere else (not that the Grammys actually mean anything). Regardless, you could feel yuppie café goers and single mothers of the '80s shuddering with anticipation for the release of Egan’s third full-length album to date. It's not like they’ve got a whole lot else to look forward to aside from the continual sagging of dangly bits, a loss of the senses, the collapse of social security, and death. As such, I'm sure they were not disappointed by Magnify. It delivers everything you'd expect from a one-sentence summary and not an inspiration more. Who really wants to re-examine their life or question anything at all, anyway?
If nothing else, Magnify is a great sounding album. Egan's jazz-influenced easy listening backing tracks are fabulously recorded, as rich and full as Garage Band® will ever be and mixed to sterile Pro Tools® perfection. Moments of Kinnie Starr, Aimee Mann, Jewel, Dianna Krall, and derivations of the like, blankets a malaise over the whole album, truly embracing the deadpan banality of every breathing second. It's like watching an old episode of the Royal Canadian Air Farce.
The music isn't the real problem here, though. It's easily ignorable. Her voice and utterly trite choice of lyrics are where she loses me. "Satiated" has one of the most childish refrains I've heard, saying over and over again, with a weak male accompaniment, "I'm not hungry no more". I know hip-hop and punk artists use double negatives for emphasis all the time, but this song simply means nothing. "2 to Tango" goes on to inform us that it takes two to tango, in a cheeky metaphor for a relationship struggle. That's such an incredible insight. It blows my mind, then reconstitutes it back into brain form and blows it again. What does Mother Goose have to say on the subject? What's your opinion on wooden nickels? Does a one-legged duck really swim in a circle? Should I let bedbugs bite? Inquiring minds need to know.
Her delivery is clearly formed out of Fiona Apple-style, mildly depressive pop songwriter feminine fragility and the Aguilera school of white-girl soul, with limp growls and "too-woo-woo" pointless extensions present and accounted for. There's just nothing controversial, mildly emotional, or remotely challenging about any aspect of it. On the whole, Magnify confirms all of Canada's least flattering shortcomings. It's subtly pretentious and utterly bland to the Nth degree. We’re not all like that, mind you, but it certainly doesn't help the stereotype we've been building for the last 200 odd years. Then again, you're not very likely to hear Egan unless you tune in to Canada AM or eat at Arby's® regularly, which really cuts down the numbers. Don't worry your pretty heads about a thing. Everything's gonna be just fine.