All it takes is 3 chords and a dream!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Abigail Lapell - Great Survivor

Abigail Lapell - Great Survivor
2011, Great Survivor

Toronto singer/songwriter Abigail Lapell has been touring Eastern Canada for a few years now, with notable performances at NXNE, Pop Montreal, Winterfolk and In the Dead of Winter.  Lapell wins over audiences with memorable melodies, dead-on honesty and a voice that evokes sorrow as easily as water reflects light on a sunny day.  Lapell first came to our attention last year through her evocative Demo EP.  In 2011, she returns with her debut album, Great Survivor.  Swinging the same velvety alto voice and an almost timeless story-teller mystique, Lapell vivisects the world around her in song, searching for understanding in poetry both abstract and refined.

Great Survivor opens with "Crescent Moon"; a promise to return in a light, whispy folk song as fleeting as the moon's phases.  "Great Survivor" is instantly recognizable, with a chorus you'll swear you've heard a thousand times before.  Lapell writes almost in thought arrangements, making abstract connections as a spider spinning a web.  There's a hero crush buried deep here in artful poetry, but Lapell's fung shui lyrical style is so deeply imaged that it's not easy to follow without great care.  "Sally" finds Lapell engaging in gentle word play as she once again surfs the abstract for understanding.  This is one of the prettiest melodies on the album.

"All That I Wanted" is an angst-filled song of next steps, choices and indecision.  Lapell's low key approach is a thing of beauty here.  "Yellow Rose" finds Lapell exploring allegories for love and how it keeps missing the mark.  There's a sort of non-committal melancholy here that's mildly intriguing, as the narrator sees her way forward alone.  "Beautiful" looks at a prospective love with intense honesty, acknowledging baggage in the way.  This could either be an intensely realistic look at a situation, or the self-doubting safety of one who finds it safer to love from afar than to act.  Either way, the honesty here is compelling.  Lapell changes gears with "Paper", a song about stepping out of time and simply being together.  The cadence of the song is absolutely enthralling, and you'll find yourself drawn in almost immediately.  Great Survivor bows with "Twenty-Nine" is a rumination on love and the uncertainty of its various courses.  Lapell's voice bears the ghosts of country and folk in an unglamorous but plain-beautiful song that speaks from the heart.

Abigail Lapell is a distinctive voice, both as a singer and songwriter.  Lapell fills her songs with highly literate lyrics born of deep intelligence and a struggle to understand human traits that are irrational and insane.  Love plagues the songs on Great Survivor like water on an open wound.  That which cleanses also hurts, confuses and often evades in Lapell's songs, but is revealed, as always, as the prime motivator of all that we do.  Abigail Lapell's voice is of the earth, warm and wintry in its turn, but always evocative and full of emotion.  Lapell leaves her heart out in view on Great Survivor, and you can't walk away without knowing the artist more than a little.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more at or  You can purchase Great Survivor directly from as either a CD or download.  The album is also available via iTunes.

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