With her rich voice and evocative lyrics, Bonnie Ste-Croix is about to cement her position as one of Canada’s premier singer/songwriters with a new CD called Canadian Girl
As on her previous albums, Here I Am, Summer June and Flying High, Ste-Croix blends emotions and imagery in a way that feels both universal and intensely personal. Canadian Girl features songs inspired by, and recorded in, each of the country’s provinces and features a veritable feast of guest talent.
Legendary Québécois fiddler Claude Méthé is one of the album’s standout contributors, on the bouncy francophone tune “On Était Bien.” His spirited fiddling is the perfect complement to Ste-Croix’s strong, clear delivery, and it’s clear they’re having fun capturing the unique sound of la belle province. East Coast fiddling treasure Natalie MacMaster also makes an appearance, lending a Cape Breton flavour on the album’s title track, while BC’s Shari Ulrich weaves vocal harmonies with Ste-Croix on the haunting “October Song.”
It’s an interesting conceit: dedicating a song to each province and recording each piece in the corresponding place. What could come off as a gimmicky is actually effective. Canadian Girl’s genre transitions are noticeable yet not distracting as Ste-Croix travels across the landscape. There are subtle flavours of Canada’s varied and rich musical culture, while the overall whole remains distinctly folk and roots Canadiana.
“I did inject some subtle influences of the area,” says Ste-Croix. “The Newfoundland song [“If I Could Sail”] has a sea shanty feel to it, for instance, but it was really important that this album feel like a unified project, so everything meshed together nicely.”
Fourteen studios and 46 musicians later, Ste-Croix is now ready to take her newest offering on the road – something she finds both familiar and a little daunting. But having spent a lot of time travelling from coast to coast, it seemed fitting that Canadian Girl should be feted in a truly national manner.
“I’m originally from Gaspé, Quebec, but I lived out west for most of my life,” she says. “I went from university in Montreal to Banff and then Vancouver, but my partner and I talked about moving back east.
“When I thought about making that long drive one more time, my brain went off on this tangent of how many times I’ve driven across this country. Certain cafés and venues were so familiar, and I had this idea pop in my head that it’s like all of Canada is my hometown. I really just want to share that feeling.”
Bonnie Ste-Croix releases Canadian Girl in Toronto on Tues, Oct 18 at 9pm at C’est What, 67 Front St, and in Oakville on Wed, Oct 19 at 8:30pm at the Moonshine Café, 137 Kerr St. For more Canadian release dates, visit bonniestecroix.com.